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July 14, 2003 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2003-07-14

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The Michigan Daily - Monday, July 14, 2003 - 5


Destination: Gilbert, AZ

Column ignores
facts and is based
on weak grounds
First, I want readers to take note
of the 22nd word of Jason Pesick's
column (Republican Party betrays
America, 7/7/03). It says "Voters,"
not "The Republican Party." That
means that voters decided to remove
the politicians. If anyone had any
inkling of the tendencies of South-
ern states, it is the propensity to
propagate and support the idea of
states' rights. Do the South and the
flag have a racist history? Undoubt-
edly so. Do I abhor the symbol?You
bet. But there are instances where
intervention by the government is
necessary (slavery, human rights
abuses, etc.) and when the prefer-
ence of the state presides.
Second, the title "Republican
Party betrays America" is so
brazenly dishonest, considering the
past decade. Unless Mr. Pesick has
forgotten the '90s, it was the Dems.
and Clinton and Co. that allowed
scores of terrorist attacks, including
the USS Cole and the embassy and
army barracks bombings, to go rel-
atively unchallenged. And lest any-
one forget, it was former Secretary
of State Madeleine Albright and
former President Jimmy Carter
who "secured" a non-proliferation
deal with North Korea. Kim Jong Il
must have forgotten that, since he's
been trying to blackmail the U.S.
into giving him more money. Some
blame this action on President
Bush's "axis of evil" speech, but
even if there wasn't North Korea's
admittance that the 1994 deal was
broken years ago, could anyone
honestly believe that within less
than a year of the speech a poverty-
ridden country cooks up a nuclear
weapon out of the blue? Maybe,
but I doubt it. And while we're on
the subject of betrayal, let us not
neglect to mention formerAttorney
General Janet Reno's little endeav-
ors: namely Waco and sending
Elian Gonzalez back to "oh-wait-
it's-still-a-dictatorship" Cuba.
Some final notes: First, I would
never offer up some short pithy title
saying, "Democratic Party betrays
America." It's too simplistic and too
childish. Second, I would advise Mr.
Pesick that if he's going to charac-
terize an entire party based on cer-
tain people's' actions with which he
has taken disagreement, he had bet-
ter come armed with more than pea
shooters and a swooning devotion to
the Kennedys.
The letter writer is aformer staff
writerfor The Michigan Review.
Professor's article
misleading and
A grossly inaccurate article

appeared in the recent "Spring
LSA" on Social Security. The
misiaorme. author was Profes-
sor Saul Hymans of the Univer-
sity's Economics Department.
Professor Hymans stated,
"The Federal Government is not
spending the Social Security
surplus. In fact, nobody is; it's
setting there fully invested and
earning interest ... " Completely
untrue! All of the surplus has
been spent for operations and
non-negotiable Special Treasury
Securities, nothing but IOUs,
placed in the Trust Fund as an
addition to the national debt, a
taxpayer obligation. If there
were a surplus, the national debt
should have shown a decrease.
This has not happened since
1960, which was the last year
the Treasury Department
records show federal income
exceeding expenses with a
decrease in the national debt.
Professor Hymans adds to
the above misinformation with
the grossly inaccurate statement
that Social Security is funded
with a "5.3% tax levy matched
by an employer." Again, com-
pletely untrue! Social Security is
funded completely by the
employer when payment is made
to "Employer's Quarterly Feder-
al Tax" (line 6 & 7 Form 941).
Again, the tax is not 5.3 per-
cent but 12.4 percent of the
employee's Social Security
wages for O.A.S.I. and 2.9 per-
cent for D.I. In addition, half of
this amount is deducted from the
employee's paycheck, thus mak-
ing part of the payroll tax sub-
ject to the employee's personal
income tax.
Whataxdeception! And from
an economics professor at the
The Michigan Daily welcomes
letters from all of its readers.
Letters from University students,
faculty, staff and administrators
will be given priority over
others. Letters should include the
writer's name, college and school
year or other University affilia-
tion. The Daily will not print any
letter containing statements that
cannot be verified.
Letters should be kept to
approximately 300 words. The
Michigan Daiy reserves the right to
edit for length, clarity and accuracy.
Longer "viewpoints" may be
arranged with an editor. Letters will
be run according to order received
and the amount of space available.
Letters should be sent over e-
mail to letters@michigandaily.com or
mailed to the Daily at - 420
Maynard St. Editors can be
reached via e-mail at edipage.edi-
tors@umich.edu. Letters e-mailed
to the Daily will be given priority
over those dropped off in person or
sent via the U.S. Postal Service.

I lost a bet (again!) a few
weeks ago when the
Chicago White Sox beat
the Chicago Cubs
(again!) to clinch the
season series. The stakes
of that bet are being
served right now as you
Sread this. I had to change
my tagline from my
usual trite phrase to what you see there now. It's
not true at all. I loathe the Pale Hoes.
Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau
issued a report on the state of city
populations across the country. Sur-
prise, surprise, Detroit has lost more people
since 2000 than any other major city in the
country. Motown, which exactly 50 years
ago boasted a population near 2.3 million, is
now home to 925,000.
Apparently the excitement generated by
the 2006 Super Bowl, Compuware and river-
front developments, isn't bringing permanent
residents to the city. Or maybe they're on
their way. Maybe 925,000 is as low as the
city will go. Hard to say. The point is, it's
2003 and people are still abandoning the
20th century's great cities.
Detroit was not the only loser. Cincin-
nati, St. Louis and Cleveland all lost sizable
chunks of their populations. Even San Fran-
cisco - California's St. Joseph to Oakland's
Benton Harbor - lost residents. Mostly,
though, the hardest hit cities can be found in
the Rust Belt and the Deep South, which
means, of course, that the place to be these
days is Gilbert, AZ.
Yup, Gilbert, AZ, which along with

Nevada's North Las Vegas and Henderson,
rounded out the top three. I've never been
to any of these cities, but I bet I know
what they're like: Orange County, West
Bloomfield, wherever.
What does it all mean? Well, for one, it
seems alot of people are really into that dry
heat thing. It also means that that most ubiq-
uitous of dreams - the American one -
has changed very little since post-WWII fed-
eral policy allowed it to become synonymous
with cul de sacs and picket fences.
Accompanying this news are recently
released unemployment figures that put
the national rate at 6.4 percent. In cities
like Detroit the unemployment rate is
much higher - into double digits - fur-
ther evidence that most of the jobs to be
had are no longer in our crumbling center
cities. The New York Times reported last
week that blacks are being disproportion-
ately affected by the latest layoffs.
So, the connection: As people continue
to flood out of cities, they increasingly
leave behind them the poorest blacks and
failing infrastructure. And as they move
farther out, they bring with them sprawling
development and new, tax-funded infra-
structure that very few people actually use.
Jobs follow. New industry, business and
residents further harm the environment.
Americans have followed this wasteful
pattern for years now. And - no question
about it - the suburbs have been the win-
ners and cities the losers.
But it was not somehow foreordained
that the suburbs would have better schools,
less crime, more resources, et cetera.
There is no Grand Blueprint that demar-

cates the good life from the bad life with
interstates and Rustling Pines Estates
signs. This pattern emerged from specific
and deliberate decisions. And it will con-
tinue, sprawling and merely semi-con-
scionable, unless we directly attack it.
There are many, I suspect, who would
argue passionately in defense of suburban
life. But the issue here is not our own indi-
vidual quality of life. It is the quality of life
of the entire nation - all of us - and our
children's children, et al. I will stop short of
saying living in the suburbs is selfish, but
that thought should give us pause.
There are some positive signs, especially
around Washington and a handful of Sunbelt
cities, that Americans are slowly integrating
themselves. But we should not hold our
breath. Population trends are difficult to iden-
tify as they occur. Politicians, for example,
often point to a burgeoning black middle
class and increased black presence in the sub-
urbs as evidence that America is belatedly
moving along anatural course of integration.
But it is quickly becoming clear that
those cities - without specific plans to
uphold their newfound racial integrity -
eventually reach a tipping point when
enough black folks inove there (often near
20 percent), and they rapidly become
mostly black/minority enclaves.
This is not how we should desire to live.
Everyone should be able to enjoy what sub-
urbanites do. But in order for that to happen
we have to make it so. Passivity will only
lead us downroadswe've already laid.
Honkala can be rached at

Off the deep end

After the U.S.
C o u r t
3 released its opinions
on the University's
admission policies, I
got the impression
from the media that
there had been no
clear victory for either
side - that the cases were a mixed result.
Affirmative action would be allowed to
continue, but was highly suspect and
would be watched with strict scrutiny.
So, you can imagine my surprise when
I received a letter of congratulations in my
e-mail box from none other than Universi-
ty President Mary Sue Coleman. Appar-
ently, Mary Sue was having a party, in
celebration of the victory in court. Cele-
bration? We lost the undergraduate case
6-3! Besides, it isn't like there is a clear
student majority on the issue; in a poll
compiled by the Michigan Student
Assembly in March, only 40 percent of
the student body agreed with the policies
to begin with. Well, free punch is free
punch. Give yourself a pat on the back
Mary Sue, and thanks for the grub.
Less appetizing was the response
from BAMN or "The Coalition to Defend
Affirmative Action and Integration and
Fight for Equality By Any Means Neces-
sary." I expected the results of the cases
to lead to one of the following: BAMN
would claim victory and fade into obliv-
ion, or BAMN would burn the Union to
the ground. But there was another possi-

ble result that I had not expected. In a
viewpoint published on June 24 in the
Daily, Agnes Aleobua and Kate Stenvig,
both BAMN organizers, not only claimed
victory, but also maintained that BAMN
would stick around to help "defend and
expand this victory with the power of the
new, militant, integrated, youth-led civil
rights movement." Rambling on, "This
victory would have been impossible if not
for the 50,000-person national March on
Washington on April 1, which was orga-
nized and led by BAMN." How arrogant.
You've got to be seriously ballsy or
seriously delusional to make statements
like those, weighing more on the side of
delusional. Rest assured, this "victory"
had nothing to do with anything remote-
ly associated with BAMN. Podunk
fringe groups like BAMN don't sway
the highest court in the land.
Sure, at first, BAMN seemed harmless
- a group that in the excitement and reck-
lessness of its youth had simply lost touch
with its target audience. It was always
oddly amusing watching its petitions pass
through a 600-plus student lecture hall,
only to emerge on the other side with no
more than a handful of reluctant signa-
tures. But organizations like BAMN
demand far more than bleeding hearts
have to offer; they need zealots - individ-
uals so consumed by the righteousness of
their cause that they lose touch.
They certainly have that in Agnes Ale-
obua. Most students just write her off,
knowing full well that on a given night
BAMN meetings draw fewer students than

a frat party keg stand. Personally, I choose
to take people like Agnes seriously -
despite her tendency to make bold state-
ments like, "The South has now been
opened for integration again."
Go ahead and laugh, but bear in mind
that this is a woman whose problems run
deeper than a lack ofpeople skills. This is a
woman who promises the rise of a militant
mass movement hell-bent on the protection
of affirmative action. A woman delusional
enough to believe what she wants to
believe. In Agnes Land, if you oppose
affirmative action, then you're a "segrega-
tionist." In Agnes Land, the hundreds of
Detroit-area high schoolers her own group
buses into Ann Arbor for rallies, are all
members of their broad-based movement.
This woman, and the organization she
represents is outof touch and over the
line. Ignorant, vacuous and righteous to
the point of arrogance, this group is a
horrible stain on the University. It has
proven to be well beyond reach of the
diverse education that its members claim
to defend so staunchly. It represents
diversity of skin color, when the true
promise of diversity lies in the tolerance
and acceptance of many different points
of view. How sad that a group who pro-
fesses a love for the late Martin Luther
King Jr. has so completely missed the
fundamental idea of his message: integra-
tion through tolerance and peace. Agnes
and BAMN choose any means necessary.
Adams can be reached at

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