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July 31, 1996 - Image 4

Resource type:
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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1996-07-31

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4:- -iae M. gar baily ecresday ulW M,;1496 ___________
Edited and managed by LAURIE MAYK ERIN MARSH
students at the Editor in Chief PAUL SERILLA
University of Michigan Editorial Page Editors
tj Ulu Unless othen vise noted. unsi >ne< editorials reflect the o pillion o<>'the
420 Maynard Street /n opiyffth Dail r albardAllotherarticsa ers<ad
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 "a'o'""' "'"''"''" V"'f"''t" i'""of"' "'"" ""l

L ast week the Senate passed its version
of a bill that proposes to permanently
change the face of social services in the
United States. Welfare stands to suffer the
most under this most recent phase of the
Republican-led assault. However, as was
the case with two previous attempts in the
past year to cut welfare, the brunt of this
attack will be felt by the poor, minorities,
and other underrepresented and low-voting
demographic groups.
The heart of the bill is a five-year life-
time maximum for receiving welfare ben-
efits and a clause that states recipients
must find employment after receiving ben-
efits for two years. However, the bill has
no provisions for education, job training or
retooling, employment aid, or - most
importantly to the single-parent beneficia-
ries who seem to make their way into so
many Republican speeches - no provi-
sion for childcare services. This bill pro-
poses that millions of Americans can sim-
ply go out and grab a job and live the
American dream. The American reality is
that now more than ever, finding gainful
employment requires supplements to a
high school education, technical skills and

Hard knocks
Senate approves major cuts to welfare

a great deal of luck. Most people on wel-
fare are struggling to meet their daily
needs. If they are expected to leave the
welfare system, they must have the neces-
sary tools.
Though the Senate's bill does provide
means for beneficiaries of welfare to still
receive Medicare after the five-year maxi-
mum has been reached (mainly because
most of those benefits go to blind and oth-
erwise disabled recipients), this bill seri-
ously jeopardizes the health and well-
being of millions of Americans.
Over 70 percent of welfare recipients
are children. Though some minor provi-
sions have been included in this bill to pro-
tect food stamps benefits, Congress is not
only taking the budgetary crises out on the
traditionally low-voting poor, but actually

attacking a group that has no means to
defend itself. Children, especially those
below the poverty level, do not have lobby-
ists, they don't make political-action dona-
tions and for the most part, that is why the
budget is being balanced on their heads.
In March, Congress and later the presi-
dent approved a measure that will increase
Social Security benefits for the elderly by
$5.6 billion over seven years. Federal farm
subsidies, many of which go to huge agri-
cultural corporations, also saw a signifi-
cant increase this year. In a year when cuts
have been talked about with such fervor,
why have these groups seen such increas-
es? Because agricultural firms and lobby-
ists for the elderly not only have signifi-
cantly economic backing, they have proven
in the past to be effective in rallying those

they represent around a cause and getting
them to the polls. This is not to say that
Congress needs to fund every program
without cuts, but clearly this bill targets
those without any means of fighting back.
Welfare is criticized as a safety net thO
promotes complacency, but often it is the
only thing that keeps the rate of sub-pover-
ty level children (already the second-worst
in the industrialized world) from reaching
epidemic proportions.
President Clinton vetoed the other two
welfare bills because of significant cuts to
Medicare, and because those bills would
have plunged over 1 million children cur-
rently on welfare below poverty level. This
bill does not rectify that figure completelg
but it does smooth it over. The small pro-
visions for food stamps and Medicare
caused half of the democratic senators to
support the bill, and Clinton's veto is any-
thing but certain.
Even if this bill remains intact through
conference committee, it is still not the true
welfare reform that both parties have been
calling for - it is, as Sen. Carol Moseley-
Braun (D-Ill.) called it, "election-year poI
tics and rhetoric raised to the level of policy

Ungui stic elitism
Panel approves English as official language
R epublicans and Democrats agree that English is the primary language of life in this
country, a national language in all but the law books. However, Republican repre-
sentatives took it one step further when they proposed a bill declaring English as the
official national language. As it was proposed last week - when the Educational and
Employment Opportunities Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives voted to
send the bill to the full House - it is a measure that could have disastrous repercus-
sions.
If the current bill is passed into law, all federal business would be conducted in
English, with the exception of some diplomatic activities, business dealing with public
health and classes designed to teach English to non-native speakers. In addition, the ver-
sion now under debate would end provisions for bilingual ballots and foreign-language
income-tax forms.
According to its sponsors and backers, the bill would have a unifying effect on this
nation, by trying to help "recent immigrants better assimilate, and empower them with
new language and literacy skills." Supposedly, these measures would lead to a more
inclusive nation. However, with the end of bilingual ballots, this forcible installation of
English amounts to a de facto disenfranchisement of one segment of the American pop-
ulace, as some citizens are blocked from voting by ballots they cannot comprehend. Far
from unifying the nation, the result would be further alienation of minority and immi-
grant groups.
Furthermore, this debate is not simply about the codification of a national language.
In this election year, the revival of the English-only efforts represents a blatant effort to
play upon the fears of those opposed to immigration, and those native citizens who do
not know and do not care about the plight of newly arrived immigrants. Aimed square-
ly at immigrants, the bill could irrevocably chill the beneficial effects of multicultural-
ism and diversity in the U.S. As an election strategy, this maneuver represents politick-
ing of the worst kind, an almost racist form of cultural protectionism.
Finally, past all the ideological baggage connected to the issue, there is the question
of whether or not this bill is logistically necessary. According to the General Accounting
Office, 96 percent of Americans already speak fluent English. Additionally, over 99.6
percent of Federal business is already conducted in English. Republicans insist that an
English-only bill is necessary, while only 4/10th of one percent of federal business is
conducted in all other languages combined.
Fortunately, cooler heads in the Senate probably will not consider this bill until after
the current political season is over. Nevertheless, backers of this bill, including
Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole (R-Kansas), would like us to ignore the fact
that, through 200 years of diversification and growth, the multicultural approach has
been very successful in building this nation.

On the cutting edge
'U' continues technological advances
he University is characterized by excellent academic opportunity, a wealth
research and superior technological resources. The University community c
once again celebrate the culmination of these factors in an overall educational
improvement.
In the past few months, the University has taken strides forward in the world of tech-
nology. The construction of North Campus's Media Union drew statewide recognition,
right up to the dedication by Governor John Engler last month. The state of Michigan
has made significant contributions to the University's advances, both monetarily and
politically.
Engler visited the University's North Campus yesterday to announce a state gift to the
Center for Display Technology and Manufacturing. DTM was created three years ago y
an effort to improve research and development to make the University a leader withW
the industry. The gift will significantly increase DTM's capacity for advances within the
field of flat panel display technology. A leader in many aspects of research and technol-
ogy, the University's expansion of DTM promises to further improve its reputation in the
field.
One of the catalysts of the improvements is former University President James J.
Duderstadt. Engler commissioned Duderstadt to head a project called the Virtual
University. In an age when students can access a vast array of information through the
Internet, the Virtual University project will offer classes online. The project will offer
courses in automotive engineering to residents of the state of Michigan starting January
1997.
Duderstadt is also heading up the Millennium Institute project, which will exami*
the University's future and technology's role in it. Duderstadt describes it as "a research
laboratory to stimulate thinking about higher education." Part of the focus will investi-
gate "alternatives to the classroom" - a theme which ties in with Duderstadt's Virtual
University project. Duderstadt's commitment to technology was present throughout his
presidency - his eight-year term was characterized by a number of significant techno-
logical improvements for the University. He should be commended for maintaining his
technological interests in the University even after his resignation.
Although much of the focus seems to be on North Campus systems, the improve-
ments affect the University as a whole. Many departments regularly receive system
upgrades - professors, researchers and students are able to adapt programs to fit th
needs and improve their accomplishments. Better technology improves the quality of tf7
University education and continues to improve the University's reputation as a leader in
technology. Students, faculty and staff alike can reap the benefits of the improvements.
Thanks to the hard work and determined efforts of members of the University commu-
nity, students will enjoy the advantages of cutting-edge technology for years to come.

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