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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    The Daily Wildcat Opinions Desk picks the issues of the year

    The Daily Wildcat Opinions Desk picks the issues of the year

    It’s been a long, tumultuous year. The Daily Wildcat’s opinions columnists sat down to give us their take on the year’s most significant issues.

    The failing economy

    Of all the issues affecting the quality of life and education at the UA, no single topic has had as great an impact on the student body as the downturn of our economy.

    At the end of the day, many of our hopes and dreams are contingent on “”external”” factors, not explicitly mentioned in any program’s prospectus, yet inherent in the quality of education provided to the students of our university. Ultimately, being a state university means that the funding of the programs we need to attain the careers we want some day may be more dependent on the economy than any prestige or work done by our outstanding faculty each day.

    As the academic calendar year has progressed, so too has the financial position of the university itself. The UA’s budget shortfall, a function of state funding and out-of-state tuition premiums, has quickly morphed into a cause for tuition hikes, which has eventually led to a concrete economic surcharge just this May.

    Although the state of the economy has forced us to reevaluate the economic value of any future high-profile concerts or recreation center expansions, it should primarily bring pause to the budgeting of the university and the future tuition policies that affect both faculty and students each day.

    We can’t predict any boom or bust in the economy, much less which programs will eventually be axed or downsized when budgets tighten. However, we can plan for the next rainy day and we can take measures for future generations of UA students.

    Just as the Feds should have worked in a countercyclical manner to pop the housing bubble, the university should take steps to increase tuition rates when times are better, so as to provide a cushion of sorts when the next recession rears its ugly head. I know, another tuition increase sounds like nails on a chalkboard right now; however, I advocate a tuition increase in the form of a low interest bond when the economic tide eventually turns.

    Although a student could surely utilize other investments, a required tuition bond as a form of tuition increase could provide the university with access to adequate cash in the short-term without burdening the university with excessive debt. Similarly, the “”tuition increase”” would actually be an investment redeemable upon graduation from the university that provides interest each semester successfully completed. Thus, the university could build short-term funding from the “”true investors”” while creating a more flexible budget in the future.

    Ultimately, if we want the university to be as great for future students as it has been for us, then we need to think of new and better ways for the university to maintain funding and become more resilient towards the realities of the business cycle. At the end of the day, maintaining quality education rests upon the ability of the university to cut checks, not departments.

    -ÿPaul Cervantes is an accounting senior.

    Bush and Cheney get off the hook

    For the last two or three years of his term in office, President Bush often arrogantly declared that “”history”” would vindicate him. No contemporary had the right to judge his presidency, he would insist; only the historians would understand what he had tried to do.

    It is painful to imagine what efforts historians will have to go to in order to clean up the reputation of a president who dragged the United States into two imperialistic wars, ordered terrorism suspects to be seized and tortured in secret prisons, effectively suspended habeas corpus and claimed dictatorial powers.

    The solution, no doubt, will be to downplay these actual events in favor of “”the big picture.”” That Bush lied to take the United States into a war with Iraq will appear less important than the effect the war had on America’s global “”position,”” or its “”interests.”” This sublimely empty-headed perspective has the effect of making the ignoble seem ignorable, for judged by the standards we might apply to, say, Otto von Bismarck or Julius Caesar, what American president could possibly appear in a bad light?

    The fact that Bush’s successors have shrugged off the responsibility to bring his administration’s crimes to light and judge them by the exacting standards of the law has ensured that those crimes will be forgotten. The debate, disgracefully, has treated these crimes as “”policy differences,”” as if all views of the Constitution – including one that treats it as giving the president the right to do whatever he wants -ÿwere equally legitimate.

    So I’m afraid that Bush will one day be seen as a great president. (Wartime presidents always are.) Until that bitter day, we can take solace in the fact that he remains detested by the great body of the American people – who, unlike future historians, have the advantage of knowing what it was actually like to exist under two terms of what the Founding Fathers rightly called “”an elective despotism.””

    – Justyn Dillingham is the editor in chief of the Daily Wildcat.

    Democrats take charge

    A year ago, politics seemed to be certain; the Democratic Party’s momentum would continue, and a “”blue”” president was likely. But if anyone had told me that some senator with poor experience would be president, Hillary Clinton would be Secretary of State, and that the United States would be telling the G20 to throw $1 trillion into the air, I would have laughed.

    A year later, all of this just seems to be blandly normal, all thanks to the invention of three magic words: “”crisis,”” “”change”” and “”hope.”” And these words are truly supernatural. With these incantations, most Americans will believe just about anything that is read off the presidential teleprompter. I just wish I had such conviction.

    Suddenly, the hard-left wish-list of the last few decades became not only perfectly acceptable, but the perfect potion to cure our ailments. Why were small businesses closing and corporations shipping jobs overseas? A lack of socialized health care, naturally. If the people are in financially dire straits, how do you help them out? By making energy more expensive, of course. How do we strengthen America’s foreign policy?

    Obviously, the president must publicly blame America for everything. From desired union policies to already-passed stimulus legislation, it seems like the solution to every problem is whatever has been deemed most likely to consolidate Democratic power. If something isn’t working – well, it’s just not liberal enough, that’s why.

    Unfortunately, only a minority of Americans actually support any of these policies. Yet the hex keeps people thinking that no matter what breaks, President Obama will fix it.

    Even worse, the spell on most Americans seems to have no effect on anyone else. Persians laughed at Obama’s overconfidence, although the hilarity probably died down after our president insisted on how much he respected Iranian leaders as the paragons of democratic and Islamic leadership. Even the French and the Germans were shocked by how radically anti-capitalist Obama’s policies were, and none of America’s allies felt the urge to help us.

    I don’t have a crystal ball. I don’t know what will happen, or whether our adulthood will be defined by paying off Nancy Pelosi’s shopping spree. All I know is that we will be worse off than if we had never been charmed by the words “”hope,”” “”change,”” and “”crisis.””

    – Daniel Greenberg is a political science junior.

    The ASUA concert fiasco

    Dear Jay-Z,

    I’ve got 99 problems and a buck ain’t one. The problem is that I haven’t got a dollar to my name right now. On behalf of the UA (you graced our campus with your presence on April 29) I’ve got to say that we are broke. By a twist of fate (I’d rather not point fingers) our university, the oldest in the state, lost more than $900,000 because of that concert.

    Bail-outs are what the cool kids are calling “”hep”” and I think that you should take some initiative, clear your good name (taking money from a poor university like ours? It’s like taking candy from a baby!), and consider giving our school a helping hand. Hopefully this helping hand can come in the form of a check for a million dollars. I know it sounds like a lot, but seriously, think about what this would cost you. Perhaps you would have to wear the same diamond-studded Rolex for (gasp) two days in a row and spend the money that you would have spent on an additional watch to help out our school. Is that too much of a sacrifice for you to make? I know it’s not your fault that we are in this predicament but I hope that your visit to our fine institution made a lasting impression on you so that you may consider my plea.

    Due to budget cuts, our school is closing all of our cultural centers, including the Martin Luther King Jr. building, and will be shoving them all under one roof (the location of which has yet to be determined) and calling it the Unity Center. Faculty are losing their jobs and tuition prices are rising. A hefty donation in your prestigious name would really help our school, and then you could know that you are helping a worthy American institution with your money. How does a Jay-Z meeting room sound? Or a Jay-Z restaurant? We have been debating over a suitable name for the Cellar Bistro for a year now and the Jay-Z Bungalow has a nice ring to it. All it takes is a little signature on a check. Please think about my argument. I enjoyed your performance at our Last Smash Platinum Bash. I hope that it won’t be the last good time our school remembers, before things all went downhill due to a lack of funds.

    Yours,

    -ÿAlexandria Kassman (who is a creative writing and Spanish senior)

    The state’s budget crisis

    This year, we’ve seen the election of the nation’s first black president and a major economic melt-down. Swine flu continues to terrorize the gullible and hypochondriacal; and closer to home, ASUA’s ill-fated Jay-Z concert created a $900,000 budgetary shortfall for the student government. But for UA students, the issue of the year is Arizona’s budget crisis.

    Whoever you choose to blame it on, Arizona was $1.6 billion in the hole this fiscal year, and faces a mammoth $3.4 billion deficit in fiscal year 2010. The National Conference of State Legislatures determined that the deficit comprises 24.2 percent of the state’s general fund, making our budget crunch the worst in the country.

    To cope with the crisis, the governor and State Legislature have had to make sweeping cuts to all sorts of social programs, with education – both K-12 and higher – taking a severe hit.

    For UA students, this means everything from program cuts to tuition hikes. Already, the Arizona Board of Regents has approved a brutal mid-year tuition hike of $766 for Arizona residents and $966 for non-residents. Both NAU and ASU were also hit with mid-year increases.

    But tuition is just the beginning of it. The budget cuts will undoubtedly lead to severe cut-backs in every other area of university life, from staff to degree programs to student services.

    The scariest part is no one can really predict the full extent of these cuts. Higher education is in limbo as the Arizona government decides what to do with federal bail-out money. We can hope that some of those funds will go toward education, but in the meantime, we must plan for the worst. The university we come back to in the fall of 2009 might not be the one we leave this spring.

    So for those of you embarking on a summer of adventure or relaxation, enjoy it while you can. Not to be dire, but this crisis will likely get worse before it gets better.

    -ÿHeather Price-Wright is a creative writing and Latin American studies sophomore.

    The torture debate

    Though any issue of the past few months is overshadowed by the stimulus, the release of the infamous torture memos will have the most lasting effects on America’s moral legacy. It seems as if everyone besides Fox News is willing to admit that the most intense interrogation methods constituted torture. The former officials of the Justice Department abandoned their legal ethics in authorizing these methods, sacrificing America’s moral credibility.

    The typical response that “”torture works”” in extracting valuable information is overblown, inaccurate and morally irrelevant. Placing detainees under perceived life-threatening conditions does not guarantee accurate information. Even if torture guaranteed answers, the message becomes, “”It’s okay to torture as long as it works.”” This message places American troops in grave danger, as they could become victims of this catastrophic logic.

    Though President Barack Obama’s message of moving forward is important, the torture memos must result in some form of investigation and legal action. This is where things get tricky. The Geneva Convention did away with “”following orders”” as an absolute excuse. However, military and government interrogators were dependent upon the Justice Department for legal clarification.

    Like any citizen receiving improper legal advice, federal investigators should hold the Justice Department officials accountable for their atrocious assessments. Though hindsight is 20/20, individual interrogators should not be prosecuted for committing acts that legal experts declared fair game.

    A decade from now, our economy will hopefully be on track. If we fail to take action on these crimes, the rest of the world will never forget. Long gone will be the moral reign of the United States of America. After failing to properly investigate these legal manipulations, the call for human rights violations against countries like China will ring hollow. Though there is unlikely to be jail time or proportionate punishment, the minimum response should be a thorough legal review of all the officials involved. The damage already done to America’s foreign policy history should mandate disbarment, which would still be a slap on the wrist.

    – Daniel Sotelo is a political science junior.

    Russell Athletic’s shady shenanigans

    College graduation is a time that is at least several years in the works – and decades in the making. It is the gateway to affluent society for those looking to become professionals, scientists or public servants that “”improve the human condition,”” as reads our official UA principles. One of the scientific principles we are brought up on is pretty basic: “”do no harm.”” Another one is simply to tell the truth – however embarrassing or shameful – whether as a scientist, a journalist or a citizen. Without undertaking a considerable amount of self-delusion, then, one can hardly avoid the implications which unfolded this year tying the UA (and all of us) directly to cases of murder, destruction and criminal exploitation.

    The facts are clear and stubborn. From among several international and local human rights groups including world-renowned Human Rights Watch, together with the Workers Rights Consortium, a local group Equipo de Monitoreo Independiente de Honduras (EMIH), and the Fair Labor Association, come detailed and extensive documentation of the abuses and atrocities implicated upon the UA’s multinational corporate partners such as Fruit of the Loom, Inc. (who owns Russell Athletic, of the “”Russell case”” as it came to be known this spring), Caterpillar, Inc., and Motorola, Inc. – all three with which we have firmly profitable university licensing agreements.

    The order of business is simple: these companies use our name simply to make money, while we cowardly stand to the side and hold out our hands in utter complacency or ignorance to collect the royalty checks. Royalty indeed. The money presumably goes right back into making our campus a toweringly pristine, ivory lair of lavishment, truly fit for a royal nobility, 21st-century-style. (For info and sources regarding the above, see issues of the Daily Wildcat 4/15, 4/16, 4/21, 4/28, and Arizona Daily Star 4/15.)

    The decision to cut our licensing agreements has been, and remains, at the lone discretion of UA President Robert Shelton who could end it today if he wanted and who, in the case of the Russell scandal, has been briefed by his faculty labor and human rights monitoring group for over a year on the continuing situation. (So, actually, he could have ended it each of the past 365 days.) But today our criminal responsibilities keep as fresh as newly caught fish ready to be cooked and devoured. Every day we remain knotted with the execrable activities of Fruit of the Loom, Caterpillar and Motorola, makeing criminals and murderers of us all.

    – Gabriel Matthew Schivone is a junior majoring in art, literature and media studies. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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