4A - Wednesday, December 4, 2013
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
4A - Wednesday, December 4, 2013 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
4e fitichioan l 4:latblm
A comedian and pope start a revolution
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and ADRIENNE ROBERTS MATT SLOVIN
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EDITOR IN CHIEF
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H e 1 1 H e t
Higher wages, better living
Raising the minimum wage can revitalize Michigan's economy
Calls to increase the minimum wage in Michigan have gained
momentum over the last year. In April, Democratic lawmakers
in the state's legislature introduced a bill that would raise the
minimum wage to $10 over a three-year period. A month later, fast-food
workers across the state participated in a nationwide protest, demanding
a wage increase to $15 an hour. And during his visit to Detroit on Mon-
day, the presumed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer
addressed these concerns, announcing his plan to increase the state's
minimum wage to $9.25 over three years. Regardless of who wins the
gubernatorial race in November 2014, raising the minimum wage should
be a priority for Michigan as the state attempts economic revitalization.
aybe you saw this inter-
view circling around
the social-media strato-
sphere a few
weeks ago. In
the clip, BBC's
who spends 10
cating for a JFFE
overthrow of the
system. The shaggy former-drug-
addict-turned-celebrity is verbose
but sharp, eloquently espousing
a vision of egalitarianism - first
laid out in his lengthy New States-
men feature - in which the masses
cooperate to remedy global wealth
disparities, remove the influence
of big business from politics and
end the devastation of planetary
resources. when Paxman press-
es for details about just how this
would be achieved, Brand responds,
"Jeremy, darling, don't ask me to sit
here in a bloody hotel room and
devise a global utopian system."
I suspect thatthis response ticked
a lot of people off. In a scathing cri-
tique, Conservative commentator
Lord (ha) Norman Tebbit notes that,
"what was totally missing ... was
any vision of how Mr. Brand would
like to see our social, economic and
political system in his post-revo-
lutionary era," before concluding
that Brand is, "no more than a self-
important self publicist."
For those of us who generally
favor the three main components
of Brand's proposition - redress
growing income inequality, get cor-
porate interests out of politics, quit
fucking up the environment - Teb-
bit's critique of Brand's motive and
lack of strategy poses two impor-
tant questions. First, in challenging
the dominant ideology of globalist
capitalism, is it required to have
a preconceived alternative with
methods of creation and implemen-
tation already laid out? And second,
what right does someone with no
background in economic or politi-
cal theory have to call for reform -
or even revolution - of our current
political and economic system?
Enter Pope Francis. In only
eight months, the sovereign of
Vatican City has achieved a viral
popularity with his call for a more
relaxed stance on birth control, his
admonishment of lavish spending
by bishops and his suggestion that
persecuting homosexuals is maybe
not the most Christian thing to do.
"Nice work, new Pope," applauded
the reasonable humans of the 21st
century. "Keep it up."
But then last Tuesday, in his first
papal pronouncement, the pontiff
took a direct shot at supply-side
economics that left many wonder-
lng if the leader had overstepped
his role as non-partisan theolo-
gian. Lashing out at "trickle-down
theories" and "the absolute auton-
omy of markets," Francis spoke of
the proverbial little guy, rendered
"defenseless before the interests of
a deified market."
In a column for Yahoo's finance
section, Rick Newman dismisses the
remarks as liberal idealism, before
observing that, "the pope doesn't
have much to say about what would
be better." He goes on to add, "What
has been a lot
more effective at
raisingthe living Russell
standards of bil-
lions, however, is and Pop
capitalism." have suc
religious leader presen
and the come- alternativ
dian could not be
there are telling
similarities - both obvious and less
so - between Pope Francis's call for
reform and Russell Brand's call for
revolution. On the surface, both are
criticisms of laissez-faire econom-
ics, concerned that our obsession
with growth has created a power
elite with an ability - and tendency
- to exploitthe underclass. Both flirt
with socialist-based solutions, while
never actually addressing the ideol-
ogy's essential tenet - that is, public
ownership of the means of produc-
tion. And both statements have been
ridiculed for the fact that neither
figure appears capable of devising an
economic system more favorable -
oratleastmore profitable - thanfree
enterprise without restrictions.
What may be less obvious in this
tedious comparison of the two fig-
ures is the fact thatboththe Pope and
Brand are rallying as much against
ing their high profile platforms to
offer an emotional appeal directed
squarely at a younger generation.
Consider Brand's recommendation
that, "the solutionhas to be primarily
spiritual and secondarily political,"
and his qualification of spiritual as,
"the acknowledgement that our con-
nection to one another and the planet
must be prioritized." Similarly, con-
sider Pope Francis, speaking in an
interview about the growing culture
of exclusion: "What I would tell the
youth is to worry about looking after
one another and to be conscious of
this and to not allow themselves tobe
There's an important parallel in
the Pope's carefully worded criticism
of "deified markets" and Brand's dis-
course on "spiritual revolution." In
the two decades since the fall of glob-
al communism as a serious threat,
the increasing reliance on free-mar-
ket solutions has been married to
the prevailing notion that we're each
entitled to our individual excess, and
that cutting social programs in the
name of auster-
ity will permit
Brand the market to
Francis abstract concept
of human suffer-
'essfully ing. In attempt-
ing to terminate
ted an the creeping
iAWolCoI plague of apathy,
' '* I'd argue that it's
-- first necessary to
present an alter-
native mindset to a system that has
left so many disillusioned and even
Pope Francis calls this the "dic-
tatorship of an impersonal economy
lacking a truly human purpose."
Brand calls it "a system predicated
on aspects of ... greed, selfishness
and fear." The respected econom-
ic minds of our time - the Paul
Krugmans and Paul Ryans of the
world - would have a more tech-
nical assessment of this system;
perhaps an analysis based more in
policy than emotion. Still, Brand
and Pope Francis have successfully
presented an alternative ideology
- one focused on eliminating the
exclusionary, individualistic ideals
that precipitate widespread apathy
- and for that alone their remarks
should be taken seriously.
- Jake Offenhartz canbe
reached at email@example.com.
Since the last wage hike in 2007, Congress
has allowed the national minimum wage to
stagnate at an amount incapable of sufficiently
supporting an individual - let alone entire
families. At the current rate of $7.40 per hour,
a minimum-wage worker in Michigan will
earn roughly $15,000 annually - less than the
$18,163 MIT estimates a single adult needs to
live in Michigan. Schauer claims his initiative
will aid in solving the financial struggles of the
electorate. At the press conference on Monday
he stated: "This is about people. It's a measure
that will help stimulate economic growth." As
low wages struggle to meet the demands of
inflation, Schauer's concern for the people and
their economic welfare is refreshing for a state
plagued by financial hardships.
Schauer's initiative is not an entirely new
one. Four states - California, NewYork, Con-
necticut and Rhode Island - have already
initiated policies to increase their minimum
wage this year. California, in particular, has
set the standard by planning on increasing
pay to $10 per hour by 2016. While the wage
hikes have been contested by Republicans,
both large and small businesses support the
initiative. A recent study found 70 percent of
small-business owners agree with the idea of
raisingthe minimum wage within their states
- arguing an increase in wages would ampli-
fy the workers' spending ability and, in turn,
boost the economy.
Critics of raising the minimum wage argue
that an increase in pay will lead to an overall
decline in employment. However, as Schau-
er suggested, the economic boost the state
will receive simply from increased spending
on basic necessities will add $1 million over
three years to Michigan's economy. In those
three years, Michigan will experience a net
increase in jobs available - even when an
increased minimum wage is factored in.
In order to remain competitive within the
national economy, Michigan's legislature
needs to follow the examples of California
and other states and to recognize the needs of
the people. With Detroit still in a precarious
state and a substantial number of residents
struggling to bypass the poverty line, raising
the minimum wage is a viable solution.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS
Kaan Avdan, Sharik Bashir, Barry Belmont, James Brennan,
Rima Fadlallah, Eric Ferguson, Jordyn Kay, Jesse Klein,
Melanie Kruvelis, Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald, Victoria Noble,
Adrienne Roberts, Matthew Seligman, Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe
VICTORIA NOBLE I
Pope's views warrant attention
POLINA FRADKIN I
Diary of a dumb bitch'
Pope Francis assumed the papacy amidst
a serious culture problem for the Catholic
Church. Viewed as corrupt, antiquated and
unable to control its own priests, the Church's
message was received with more than a grain
of salt by many. However, the "apostolic exhor-
tation," released by Francis Nov. 26, deserves
universal recognition for its promotion of basic
human equality and economic support.
In his 224-page document, Francis con-
demns the consumer culture that creates
unfair disparities by which individuals are
systematically dehumanized and deprived of
basic goods and services and condemns that
these things are accepted as a valid trade-off.
He asks questions like, "How can it be that it
is not a news item when an elderly homeless
person dies of exposure, but it is news when
the stock market loses two points?" These
questions deserve consideration from us all.
The document connects the need to change
this world system with biblical values and
Catholic social teaching, but Francis's message
isn't exclusively religious. Calling .for better
care and compassion for the homeless, unem-
ployed, underemployed, elderly and other dis-
advantaged groups is a message that students
- regardless of faith - should consider.
As university students, we fall within a
small minority of educated young people.
Regardless of socioeconomic background,
being students - and probably future grad-
uates - of the University places us in an
advantaged position compared with much of
the world. According to the Huffington Post,
in 2010, only 6.7 percent of the world had a
college degree. We're among that fortunate
small percentage and therefore have an obli-
gation to use some of what we learn here to
help others. We're part of - and near the top
- of a complex, global economic system that
disadvantages many. Our education gives us
the privilege to change it. It's important that
we take that opportunity.
Francis's document brings much needed
attention to a problem that's often overlooked
by world leaders. Endemic poverty often
receives very little attention compared to
other economic issues, and the global reach of
the papacy has already forced the issue back
into the international spotlight. After the
release of the document, the Pope met with
Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss
the welfare of Russian citizens.
The Pope also called for more politicians
that are "genuinely disturbed by the state of
society, the people and the lives of the poor."
And while he didn't list specific parties or
countries that need to make these political
changes first, I'd be willing to bet that the
United States is on the shortlist.
The document is clearly a step in the right
direction for the Catholic Church. The push
for greater economic equality is a good move
for an institution that spent several centuries
as a key player in the detrimental economic
system that this document deplores.
But there's more work to be done. As a Cath-
olic, I'm deeply disturbed by the state of the
Church - even now. A deep-seated intolerance
for LGBTQ lifestyles is problematic for a new
papacy that wants to promote equality, a value
that's not solely economic in nature. In the doc-
ument, Francis wrote that he isn't interested in
changing the Church's stance on gay marriage.
True equality has cultural, political and social
implications, and they all need to be addressed
if the Church wants to successfully emerge
from the shadows of past scandals.
The document also lacks a specific, cred-
ible plan of action that will really shake up
a world of economic, political and social
unfairness, a culture of massive spending
and a lack of appreciation for the lives of the
disadvantaged. But that's our job. Catholic or
not, the problem highlighted by the Pope is
real and affects us all. Hopefully our Univer-
sity educations will enable us to craft creative
solutions to some of the world's most difficult
problems of inequality.
Victoria Noble is an LSA freshman.
If I had to guess what single fac-
tor will bring about the demise of
this great nation, it'd be the sexy
baby vocal virus. Oh, you know what
I'm talking about. The girl holding
up the Starbucks line, ordering a
low-fat, unsweetened, iced soy latte
- wait, no, caramel latte. Wait, no,
vanilla latte - "and can you, like,
throw it in the blender? Thanks sooo
much." The girl in the library pout-
ing to her friend that "he doesn'teven
get my politicaljokes!" The nth girl to
walk down South Forest asking the
age-old question, "Howww can you
live above No Thai? And not eat it?
Like ... Every. Day."
Listen up, you'll hear it. They're
everywhere. A saleswoman at Nord-
strom asks if I need any help, and all
I can think is, "Dear Lord, ifa Bean-
ie Baby could talk, surely it would
sound like you."
My seemingly everlasting awk-
ward phase struck a climax in ninth
grade and was all the more exac-
erbated by the girls perched atop
the high-school hierarchy - a steep
climb up from where I was. Their
swishing ponytails gave me anxi-
ety. Their jingling car keys gave me
heartburn. They were older and cool-
er. And I was terrified of them, until
one day, I overheard them speaking.
Strange, I thought. What a peculiar
chorus of squeaky toys. I wondered:
Was it pretense? Perhaps a common
speech impediment? Granted, our
personal interactions amounted to
zero and to call us acquaintances
would be an uproarious overstate-
ment, but I had an instinct. They just
sounded so... unintelligent.
For years I was vexed. Why did
hearing a woman speak like Dee
Dee from "Dexter's Laboratory" on
helium feel like death by a million
paper cuts? Suddenly, my mission
was clear, and last Thursday morn-
ing, I stepped into the world for five
days as a sexybaby.
When attempting sexy baby voice,
it's not just about a high pitch. The
important partis includinguptalking
and elongated endings. You know,
as if everything you're saying is a
questiiiion? Vowel retraction is key,
along with sharpened, hiss-like "s"
sounds. "This" turns into "thessss,"
"stupid" to "sssstu-peh-d." Don't for-
get to include a vocal fry. Think grav-
elly register, scraping vocal cords
against a cheese grater. Say fry with
a fry. Go ahead, tryit.
While studying, I harassed my
friend David to tell me what he
thought of my new "accent." He
seemed a little bit too forbearing,
which unsettled me. Finally, I wrung
out a response: "Because you sound
like an idiot, I'd probably sleep with
you and never talk to you again."
He shrugged, returning to his video
game. I could barely muster an awk-
ward "thank you."
It was a rather thirsty Thursday
evening when I caught myself shout-
ing after my friends to stop power
walking and cursing the inventor of
stilettos. The next thing I knew, a
grody male specimen with a fratty
disposition walked past me and
addressed me with the utmost con-
viction: "DUMB BITCH!"
Naturally, my first thought was,
"Wow - I'm getting such good
data!" But the excitement of the
moment soon settled, and I was left
lagging behind the group, trapped
in my vocal affectation, vulnerable,
I am not a dumb bitch.
But is this what girls are being
taught? That dumbing down for
men is OK? The human voice is half
of the persona. My vocal alteration
gave the impression to everyone
around me that I am less: less con-
fident, less pressured to be a great
thinker. It's as if the voice said,
"Relax, I'm not as clever or opinion-
ated as you. This'll be easy."
In public, I became the token
quiet friend. Embarrassed to speak,
my former outgoing self was substi-
tuted with a meek diffidence. I ate a
practically silent lunch with a friend
because she wouldn't - couldn't -
tolerate me. "You realize how annoy-
ing you sound?" she asked. Gingerly
nodding my head as I bit into a sand-
wich, I wondered how many friends
I'd lose over the next few days.
No one has been taking me seri-
ously. Even if the next words I spoke
were to be "I'm finishing my Ph.D. in
biophysics and I'm a two-time Ful-
bright fellow," eyes still glaze over.
Vague smiles crystallize. A mocking
tone is weaved into the distracted
response of whoever has the displea-
sureoftalkingtome. Men makejokes
about me in front of my face. Most
women feign interest, but judgment
waxes intheireyes. I findmyselfelic-
iting laughter in English class. Why?
Because I sound like a Dumb Bitch.
My professor would never admit it,
but it's true. He's thinking it. I see it
in his face when I speak in class and
I can't help but wonder: If this were
truly how I spoke, could I ever get
past a job interview? Would any-
body hire me as a criminal attorney?
Would someone choose me to be his
or her children's doctor?
The voice isn't only a communi-
cative medium - it's an implicative
one. Far past the age of women qui-
etly knitting pastel-coloredtea cozies
beside their husband, now is the time
of hasty assumption and easy access.
Baby wants, baby whines, baby gets.
Whatdoes the sexybaby voice imply?
What does it strive so hard to obtain?
Based on my findings, it certainly
Perhaps Marilyn Monroe's
breathy, girlish tone mutated into
the voice of the Britney genera-
tion - and it just may have seeped
into the modern subculture of
young women today, generating a
self-deprecating, resounding echo
to the world. The damaged female
voice festers in high schools, uni-
versities, on TV and radio, slow-
ly claiming girls everywhere.
Now, I'm no die-hard feminist -
although the current state of my leg
hair would begto differ - but in my
opinion, women should sound like
women. Not dumbed-down, sexed-
up dolls who end every sentenceee
in a question? Let's climb out of the
vocal rut, women, and realize that
the way words are spoken is just as
important as what's being said. No
more "Dumb Bitch." It's time to rise
above the facade. It's time to re-
watch Legally Blonde. Ladies, are
you with me?
Polina Fradkin is an LSA sophomore
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