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October 23, 2013 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-10-23

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4A - Wednesday, October 23 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

l e Iic[ igan ail

Are we post-emotional?

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

struggle a lot with binaries.
It isn't surprising that they're
everywhere. In a world with
so much com-


plexity and
they offer an
easy shortcut to
what it means
to be: masculine
versus feminine,
west versus east,
religious versus
secular and the


Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board.
All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
The battle for donor equality
A federal ban on gay men donating blood is scientifically flawed
As Michigan's annual Blood Battle blood drive against the Ohio State
University approaches, Blood Drives United, a student-run organi-
zation, is starting a petition to overturn the ban on gay men donating
blood. Currently, any male who says they've had sexual contact with another
male is permanently banned from donating blood. This question harms both
agencies trying to maximize blood donations and villainizes gay men. As a
prejudicial ban long overdue for an appeal, the suggested alteration of gays
donating blood should be implemented and the movement supported.

The petition, organized through We The,
People,.the White House's petitioning platform,
supports replacing the current survey ques-
tion with one that will continue to prevent the
spread of HIV, the justification used for barring
gay men from donating. The Food and Drug
Administration currently prohibits gays from
contributing because they are "at increased risk
for HIV, hepatitis B and certain other infec-
tions that can be transmitted by transfusion."
The proposed new question, which asks if any-
one has had unprotected sexual contact with
a new partner in the past 12 weeks, would still
allow an accurate screening process for these
types of diseases. However, instead of targeting
gay men and their sexual histories since 1977
- as the policy reads now - this new question
significantly reduces tile risk of anyone of any
sexual orientation from donating potentially
contaminated blood.
From a scientific standpoint, the risk of gay
men donating HIV-infected blood is an outdat-
ed stigma. Even with the gay population having
a higher HIV percentage rate than other sexual
orientations, new technology has minimized
the risk of transmitting the disease. Every

donated sample gets screened for HIV, and the
odds of a false negative are one in two million.
Therefore, there's no scientific purpose for gay
men not to donate, which is agreed upon by
numerous medical establishments, including
the American Medical Association. "The life-
time ban on blood donation for men who have
sex with men is discriminatory and not based
on sound science," William Kobler, an AMA
board member, said in a statement in July.
The ban on gays donating blood has been
prejudicial and technologically illogical for
longer than necessary, and it's time for a
change. Numerous pieces of legislation have
tried to overturn the ban since 1997, and con-
sidering hospitals continuously have a low
blood supply, the time has come to allow gay
men to donate.
The' proposed question addresses the
FDA's concerns while also including a group
of donors that should have been eligible long
ago. With the petition only needing 100,000
signatures for the Executive Branch to view
the proposal, hopefully this could be an
important step in the battle to end the stigma
and be a step toward social justice.

one ever present in academia: emo-
tional versus logical.
Binaries are problematic for a lot
of reasons. Not only do they leave no
room for the grey in-betweenness
that most things actually fall into,
but they also hierarchize categories.
In the case of emotion versus logic,
the latter always trumps the former,
especially when it comes to knowl-
edge and scholarship. The problem
with ranking binaries is that we're
not only ranking concepts, but iden-
tities and experiences informed
by these concepts. In this case, the
logic-emotion binary elevates Euro-
centric Cultures that emphasize less
expressive ideals, while debasing
non-western/non-white cultures
that may be differently or more emo-
tionally expressive.
The logic versus emotion question
plays out in many scenarios between
both people of oppressed and privi-
leged identities. In dialogues, for
example, although all participants
may be processing their emotions
in their own ways, privileged folks
often set the guidelines for how to do
so. By universalizing arbitrary rules
on what kind of emotional expres-
sions are and aren't permissible, they
police the emotions of everyone else
in the room.
Recently, I was in a conflict reso-
lution meeting that involved two
white men on one side and a diverse
collective of people of color on the
other. My friend, who was clearly
upset and hurt by the incident we
were addressing, steered away from
speaking in abstracts like some in the
room, and instead took a courageous
risk by telling how the incident per-
sonally impacted her and explaining
what was going on inside.
Her transparency and exposed
vulnerability was met with fierce

tone policing, shrouded through
whitewashed phrases such as,
"Can't we have a civilized discus-
sion?" and "I can't speak with
someone angry who isn't even look-
ing at me," and "I advise we speak
with more tact and decorum."
This sort of emotional policing,
especially when it occurs during con-
versations related to race, only per-
petuates racism by settinga dynamic
where white people are instructing
people of color on how to express
their emotions and how to speak -
about race or otherwise.
Beside being very racialized, the
logic-versus-emotion notion is also
norms, this binary renders profound
intuitions and emotional energy as
things specific to women. And even
if women consider these powerful
sources of knowledge, these ele-
ments are regarded as inherently
weak and dubious because of their
perceived femininity.
Ironically enough, the "emotion-
al" label is applied-
irrationally and j
inconsistently. Regulati
For example,
when men exhibit and iSn t
anger, they're not "
seen as "being so is groun
emotional" but as
"just being men." Opp1
Because aggres-
sion is deemed
an integral part of hypermasculin-
ity and therefore looked at favorably,
anger by men often isn't even viewed
as being emotional. And even if it is,
it's viewed as a justifiable, good type
of emotional.
On the other hand, if a woman
is even slightly passionate while
speaking and resists being silenced
in the process, she's not only labeled
emotional, but as the bad kind of
emotional - a derogatory word,
loaded with all sorts of inferiority
Regulating what is and isn't
deemed emotional and what types
of emotions are deemed good or
strong, bad or weak depending on
who practices them is groundless
and oppressive.
Erasing emotions because we
think doing so somehow leads us to
better and higher forms of knowl-
edge is a hegemonic norm that ought
to be questioned. Why should an

abstract theory or scholarly "factual"
pieces be looked at as the only way
of knowing, or as more informative
than our lived experiences? Who
does abstract theorizing benefit and
whose perspective does it 'center?
Whose perspective does it leave out?
It's a strange feeling to be stud-
ied and spoken about by others in
the same room. In class recently, we
looked at Muslim women in the Mid-
dle East. Obviously, everyone had
something to say. The class sat there
for an hour and half intellectualizing
the shit out of everything.
Somehow this conversation was
supposed to relate or speak to my
people, our history and, to some
extent, me. But none of it did. When
I finally mustered up the energy to
bring in my personal experience,
what I said stood contrary to what
the reading said, which made things
complicated for the instructor who
centered the discussion around a
particular academic perspective and
for the students who wanted so badly
to consume it
as Truth.
ng what is There are
no number of
emotional books, essays or
equations that
can teach what
"s e I know through
essl~e- my experience
as an Arab-
woman. By foregrounding my own
experiences and the diverse experi-
ences of other Arab-Americans and
women of color, I am able to decen-
ter and destabilize the whiteness and
maleness that we've been taught to
place at the center of all that we learn.
This shift in perspective affects how
I think about readings for class, how
I take in what my professors say and
how I choose to write about and
produce knowledge.
There is no need to pretend that
we live in a postemotional society.
Nothing appeals to me about a soci-
ety that fears feelings and won't
admit that emotions are very much
tied into learning. Our lived experi-
ences and intuitions shape how we
receive knowledge because what we
feel cannot be divorced from what
we know - for all of us.
- Zeinab Khalil can be
reached at zkha@umich.edu.

Laughing at Laffer -

During a White House meeting with Dick
Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld in 1974, Arthur
Laffer, .a newly minted economics Ph.D. from
Stanford University, sketched on a paper napkin
a simple parabola which he believed perfectly
captured the relationship between marginal tax
rates and government tax receipts. Supply-side
economics and the modern Republican Party
were born.
Supply-side economics, the belief that the
key to maximizing economic growth lies in cut-
ting marginal tax rates, was always too simple
and rustic for academic macroeconomists. Laf-
fer and other supply-siders built their careers
in insulated right-wing think tanks and peri-
odicals - far removed from the peer-reviewed
world of academia. Faith inthe power of tax cuts
to deliver America from the evils of unemploy-
ment and sluggish growth never had a home in
the ivy tower. And to this day, there are literally
no supply-side economists in tenure at any major
American university.
So if supply-side economics lacks the rigorous,
well documented and well researched theoreti-
cal backbonethatonly thorough academic debate
can provide, what about Laffer's scrawled graph
is so intellectually persuasive for the right? This
exploration of the underpinnings of the Laffer
curve is bestundergone by entertaining two sim-
ple questions on public policy.
First, if the government was to set marginal
tax rates at zero percent, how much revenue
would the government take in? A softball ques-
tion: If there's no tax, then the government col-
lects no taxes, so there's zero tax revenue.
Second, how much revenue would be collect-
ed if marginal tax rates were set at 100 percent?
Intuitively, most would saythatall income would
go to the feds in tax revenue, but why get out of
bed and head to work in the morning if all your
wages are gobbled up by faceless bureaucrats?
Clearly, there is no incentive to punch the clock
if your income is eaten whole by the gluttonous
maw of the IRS. Thus, a marginal tax rate of 100
percent will leave federal coffers untouched and
empty as the populace leave their workplaces
unattended. That means the revenue-maximiz-
ing tax rate must be between these two extremes.
In terms of public policy, the implications of
the Laffer curve are also straightforward. If tax
rates are to the left of the maximum tax revenue
point we can hike them to increase tax revenue,
and if tax rates are to the right of this point we
can cut them to accomplish the same. A correct
theory, albeit an uninteresting one, is that real
controversy is notwith the Laffer curve itself, but
rather with the "Laffer hypothesis."
Laffer used his parabola to make two supposi-
tions about the economy. First, the United States
was far to the rightcof the tax rate that maximizes
revenue, and second, the optimal tax rate is close
to zero percent. The policy implication was, and

still is, immensely appealing to conservatives.
If Laffer is correct, the federal government can
drastically cutincome tax rates while simultane-
ously producing a deluge of federal tax receipts.
Laffer also claimed that these cuts would produce
sweeping economic growth as workers increase
their productivity in response to higher effective
incomes. Math may not be sexy to Republicans,
but a proposal which succinctly vilifies Big Gov-
ernment certainly is.
Taking Laffer at his word, former President
Ronald Reagan cut the top marginaltaxrate from
70 percent to 28 percent. But rather than creat-
ing a revenue bonanza, the federal debt reached
a historical high of $2.85 trillion - a threefold
increase in the tab left by the Carter administra-
tion. While there was a tepid increase intaxreve-
nue, when extraneous factors that automatically
raise tax receipts are factored out, the tax rate
change had a neutral or negative impact on rev-
enue growth, as detailed bythe Center on Budget
and Policy Priorities.
But what of Reagan's impressive growth
record? Per capita GDP increased at an average
annual rate of 3.4 percent during Reagan's years,
but two confoundingvariables make itextremely
difficult fortax cutsto be credited as the proprie-
tary source ofthe1980s boom. First,much ofthat
growth is attributable to the economy makingup
for losttime after bottoming out during the 1981-
1982 recession atcan unemployment rate of10 per-
cent. In the business cycle, deeper slumps make
for headier booms, so Reagan benefitted from a
rising tide of economic activity entirely outside
of his control. Second, throughout this period,
Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, after
raising the federal funds rate to a sickening high
of 20 percent to squash stagflation, progressively
cut interest rates throughout the 1980s, increas-
ing investment spending and buoying economic
growth.Moreover,supply-sideeconomics' ingre-
dients for growth,higher labor productivity and a
greater national savings rate never materialized.
Labor productivity grew slower under Reagan
than it did under Carter, and the national savings
rate fell from 7.8 percentof GDP to 4.8 percentby
the close of Reagan's term.
So the question becomes if tax cuts weren't
a magic bullet in the 1980s, then what are the
odds that they'll be beneficial in 2013 under atax
regime which is much more lenient than the one
which faced Reagan?
When Paul Ryan and Rand Paul crow about
the virtues of slashing tax rates, they have it'the
back of their minds Arthur Laffer's total mis-
understanding of his own invention. In other
words, treat economists and policymakers who
cling to the supply-side doctrine with the same
respect owed to a chemist who thinks that phlo-
giston creates fire.
Ryan Dau is anS LSA freshman.

Kaan Avdan, Sharik Bashir, Barry Belmont, James Brennan, Eli Cahan, Eric Ferguson,
Jordyn Kay, Jesse Klein, Melanie Kruvelis, Maura Levine, Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald,
Victoria Noble, Adrienne Roberts, Paul Sherman, Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe I
A different football game
"You're missing football season?" ing what has cynically been referred ers with a bad aftertaste, similar to
Their accusatory tone insinuated to as furlough casual or shutdown the one Congress has left us with. If
I was some sort of witch, or worse, chic - jeans and a T-shirt. you can get past the scuzzy images
a communist. While Congress was tone deaf to of who I'm assuming to be President
When I .broke the news to my the angry outcries of hardworking Barack Obama and Uncle Sam, Miley
friends and family that I'd be spend- Americans, I found myself asking, makes an important point: Politi-
ing a semester in Washington, D.C. as "By God, man, did no one think of cians don't seem like real people to
a partof the Michigan in Washington the interns?" us; theyare two-dimensional charac-
Program, I was met with congratula- But the politicians cried, "Nay!" ters with talking points, and we don't
tory praise along with an assessment on the contrary, they argued. respect them.
of my mental health - admittedly, no Speaker of the House John Boehner In the days leading up to the
one in his or her right mind would said, "This isn't some damn game!" reopening of the government, when
miss football season. Well, Mr. Speaker, it sure seems my own faith in our two-party sys-
When I arrived in Washington, that way to us. tem was at an all-time low, Wash-
D.C., my MIW program manager, If the shutdown showdown were ington Post chief correspondent
Margaret Howard, told us to prepare a football game, certainly Sen. Ted Dan Balz came to speak to the MIW
ourselves. Why? Because after Labor Cruz would be the Republican Party students. He was asked if he had lost
Day weekend, D.C. would "have its coach. With an act of bold political faith in Washington and his answer
game face on." I wasn't really sure obstructionism patriotism, he con- took me by surprise.
what she had meant by that, but I'd vinced both teams to play into the "I'm a long-term optimist and a
find out soon enough. end zone of no return - the debt ceil- short-term pessimist."
I was still bitter about missing ing. He gave them something to fight Why? Because those who vote will
game days, and the Snapchats of for and against: Obamacare. His pep solve this, and even though it may
my friends bleary-eyed with school talk lasted 21 hours, making me think take a while for things to change,
spirit(s) didn't exactly ease my nos- he might have taken former Michi- they will change. And strangely
talgia. I wanted to scream the fight gan football coach Bo Schembechler enough, I believe him.
song until I sounded like a chain a little too seriously when he said, As I sit here writing this, I'm sip-
smoker. I wanted to dance on elevat- "Those who stay will be champions." ping some cold, terrible coffee out
ed surfaces until Ihad shin splints. I Sen. Rand Paul also seems tothink of my ornamental Starbucks "YOU
wanted to be in the stands dutifully this is a game. In fact, Iknow he does. ARE HERE" Washington, D.C. col-
shaking my yellow pom-pon. As I In a candid, hot mic moment cap- lection mug. YOU ARE HERE -
soberly lamented my circumstanc- tured by local news station WPSD what a funny thing to put on amug. I
es, little did I know that while I'd 6, he told Senate Minority Leader know I'm here; we all are.
be missing football season in Ann Mitch McConnell, "Ithink if we keep I once got to ask Chris Cillizza, the
Arbor, right here in D.C. I'd get to saying, 'We wanted to defund it. We founder and editor of The Fix, what
watch one of the biggest game of fought for that and that we're willing sport he thought politics was most
winners and losers in 17 years. to compromise on this,' I think they like. He told me football.
Cue the government shutdown. can't, we're gonna, I think ... well, I At the University, we love football.
After only a month of my intern- know we don't want to be here, but We wake up every Saturday at some
ship and weeks of political brink- we're gonna win this, I think." Now ungodly hour to the smell of Crystal
manship, it had finally happened: that's a gaffe that makes Mitt Rom- Palace vodka singeing our nose hairs
Congress had shut the federal ney's tree appraisal look like the to cheer on our team.
government down. work of an expert arborist. If Washington has its game face
But what exactly does that mean? But, didn't Boehner just say that on, so should we. To paraphrase
Congress couldn't agree on how to this isn't a game? Hey guys, is there Dan Balz, let us be short-term pes-
fund the federal government, and something you're not telling us? Have simists about the current condition
without funding, the government you been - dare I say it - lyingto us? of politics and long-term optimists
can't remain open. As a result, hun- As D.C. continues to saythis isn't a that we can make a difference
dreds of thousands of government game, we all know that's a joke. And because we are here. Otherwise,
workers were furloughed until the Miley Cyrus knows it, too. In Satur- this is just a game of losers.
tentative date of reopening. Many day NightLive's parody, "We did stop So here's to beinga team player.

Washingtonians, including a handful
of the 23 MIW students who are fed-
eral-government interns, were rock-

(the government)," her witty lyrics
and lewd portrayal of Rep. Michele
Bachmann (R-Minn) leaves view-

Natalie Ertzbischoff
is an LSA junior.


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