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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Pass or fail

    Catty candidates

    P

    Viewers who tuned in to the latest Democratic debate this week, hosted by CNN in South Carolina, may have noticed something was missing: the issues. The latest bloviation celebration was marred by bickering between the current frontrunners, Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. While grandstanding pundits have denounced this regression as petty politics, the spat reminds us of what the business of politics is all about. This is a primary race between a man who proclaims a message of transcendent hope and a woman who vows to break through the glass ceiling and make America right again. Yet, it’s important to remember that they are at their root politicians, and, as H.L. Mencken put it, “”a good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.”” For reminding us what politics is really all about, Sens. Clinton and Obama have earned a Pass.

    Box office numbers

    F

    Ask the Motion Picture Association of America about college students and you’re likely to hear a horror story: According to the entertainment industry, students are some of the biggest contributors to the online piracy problem that’s sapping away their profits. Until this week, they had a reliable statistic to support that claim. According to a report it commissioned in 2005, college students are responsible for 44 percent of the industry’s lost profit. Sounds like a huge problem – but it’s absolutely false. This week, the MPAA admitted that the bogus figure was caused by a “”human error”” in the survey, which actually found that student impact is about 15 percent of lost profit. The study has been widely used to pressure universities across the country into draconian crackdowns on the online activity of students. This year, the movie lobby even developed a software package called “”University Toolkit”” to make it easier to spy on student communication. For using completely bogus numbers for completely bogus ends, the MPAA deserves a Fail.

    Too little, too late

    F

    Yesterday, the White House and Congress announced that they had reached an agreement on a $145 billion economic “”stimulus”” package. The plan includes $600 tax rebates for as many as 117 million people, along with an additional $300 rebate for children. While the idea of mailing off checks to citizens sounds nice, it is a paltry stimulus plan. The last time the government mailed out rebate checks, in 2001, the checks were either saved or used to pay outstanding debt – hardly the stuff of a resurgent market. Furthermore, if all goes as planned (and it usually doesn’t), rebate checks won’t even be received until months from now, long after the worst of the economic downturn has passed. The Federal Reserve has already introduced its own stimulus by cutting interest rates drastically; this move is more than enough. For introducing an ineffective measure far too late, Washington gets a Fail.

    Blue skies in Beijing?

    I

    The New York Times reported Jan. 24th that the Chinese government will attempt to cut down on motor traffic in Beijing by 50 percent as part of its promise to hold a “”green Olympics.”” A four day experiment with traffic reduction in August managed to pull over one million vehicles off the roadway per day, but didn’t have as significant of an impact on air pollution as was hoped. Moreover, an American environmental consultant issued a recent report calling into question the efficacy of Beijing’s “”Blue Sky”” pollution monitoring program, and concluding that air quality over the past nine years hasn’t improved, contrary to the assurances of reduced pollution by city officials, and the often heavy-handed actions of the Chinese government. Decreasing traffic and monitoring air pollution are admirable goals, but reassurance and showy gestures without results aren’t much better than total inaction. For being environmentally aware but not necessarily proactive, Beijing gets an Incomplete.

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