Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Letters to the Editor – 2/1

I am writing in response to the opinion piece written by staff writer Samuel Bakken, entitled “Stereotypes, racism still plague Madison.” He tells a story of a poor man who panhandles on State Street. Bakken and his buddies decided to help the man out and find him a place to hang out for the night.

Bakken makes his story out to be an encounter with a theme of racism. How can the Herald justify the story’s headline when only one portion of the story contained racism? Racism exists, but to say it “still plagues” Madison is completely ridiculous, as if racism were a serious problem for Madison in the past.

The other theme of this article is how stereotypes also plague Madison. These stereotypes exist for many reasons. For example, if it looks like poop and it smells like poop, nine times out of 10, it’s poop. Bakken decides to rebel, and takes this story one step further. He decides to taste the “poop.”

While helping the man find more money, Bakken states others gave him funny looks because his companion “looked the part of a transient” and was “a black man missing his two front teeth.”

“Black man?” You think people looked at you funny because you were hanging out with a black man? Perhaps they were looking at you funny because of the contrasts between a presentable, cleanly dressed male and a toothless street bum? Reverse the picture. Bakken is a black male, and the bum he speaks of is a white, homeless man, wearing the common clothes of a person in his category. I would still give them the same odd looks. But when a white male is seen hanging around a black homeless person, and receives strange looks, it’s racism.

Bakken later leaves the party and heads off to “Paul’s Club,” where the homeless man then disappears without a simple “thank you.” Maybe the headline should have read “Homeless man suckers UW student.”

Paul Arnevik

UW freshman

As if Wisconsin lacks controversial politicians these days … “Liberal” isn’t the word for Ed Thompson, the prospective gubernatorial candidate featured Thursday in The Badger Herald. “Unqualified” is more like it. Being the brother of former Gov. Tommy Thompson gives him name recognition, possibly the only reason he may get votes come November.

Thompson himself pointed out a number of reasons why his candidacy for the most powerful job in the state would be a humorless joke. First of all, he says he doesn’t know much about being governor. Hey, Ed, I would love to be an astronaut; if you become the next governor, I’m moving to Houston.

In regard to UW-Madison, he said students favor him because he’s in favor of legalizing marijuana and lowering the drinking age–what high regard Thompson has for the intellect of UW students. While many people here loathe drugs and alcohol, some of us still find issues, such as the economy and equal rights, to be a bit more pressing. I can see it now: the line out the door at UHS for students claiming to have unbearable pains in their back and neck.

Thompson’s political experience is limited to Tomah, where he became mayor following public cry from his arrest in 1997 for operating illegal video poker machines in his restaurant. He rode that issue to the to the top in a town of 8,000 people. Let’s see now if he can ride incompetence to the top in a state of over five million.

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Kollin Kosmicki

UW senior

While Benjamin Thompson goes to great lengths to mock opponents of free trade (“Pro-poverty protests”), he does not actually address their concerns or arguments. Thompson’s line of reasoning is in actuality only a shallow example of Econ 102 macro-economic thought.

Let’s address his first assertion: “Those planning to protest ? are completely wrong.” Your deduction implies free traders and “anti-globalizers” have the same goal, but differing political and economic means of achieving it.

This is most certainly not the case. Free traders want to increase wealth only in the most economically efficient manner possible, namely, through reducing any and all trade barriers. Most anti-globalizers are typically “pro-global,” but believe economic efficiency must be balanced with other values.

Thompson reminds us that “the poor country benefits because money pours into the country in the form of capital investments, taxes and worker’s salaries.” Thompson fails to analyze if this theory is working.

First, foreign investment is exactly that: foreign. Thus, profits are going to circumvent developing countries and go straight into the pockets of American and European investors.

Second, the salient tactic of competition for foreign business by most developing countries is to not tax them, and even going so far as to invest in infrastructure themselves, so as to reduce costs on foreign corporations as much as possible.

Finally, there are documented examples in which workers’ standard of living (northern Mexico) has plummeted after the local economy transformed from one of subsistent farming and bartering to a free trade market.

Finally, let us examine the conjecture that “poor countries are the biggest advocates [of free-trade], and rightly so.” I agree that presidents, dictators and trade ministers of agriculture-based countries are pro-free trade at any cost, as there is no greater prestige for developing countries than to Westernize and appear more “American.” But I’m not so sure what the poor workers in those countries think–I haven’t seen The New York Times or The Economist interview them.

Max V. Camp

Madison, Wis.

As someone who grew up in Ann Arbor and lived there until last year, I have to disagree with the reasons given in Ben Robinson’s article (1/31/02) for the decline of the University of Michigan men’s basketball team.

First, Michigan is no Duke or Kentucky. Never has been, never will be.

Second, Michigan had good recruiting classes because booster Ed Martin gave gifts and loans to players like Chris Webber, Louis Bullock and Robert Traylor. This practice was painfully obvious to those of us who saw the players around town in their Ford Explorers and designer clothes. With evidence that Steve Fisher at least knew about these practices, UM fired him.

To suggest Fisher was a good coach or “essentially a victim of circumstance” because he illegally recruited great high school talent is ludicrous, and anyone who watched his teams play would know that he did very little coaching.

Brian Ellerbe inherited a program already in decline. He tried to run a clean program, but was ultimately unsuccessful in recruiting star players amidst NCAA investigations and university sanctions. Give Ellerbe a break and instead give Ed Martin and Steve Fisher the blame they deserve.

Jeff Wilcox

UW research assistant

This letter is meant to be read by those who have street parking, namely those in zone three on Gilman, Carroll and Henry Streets. Learn how to park! If you can’t parallel park or you’re too worried to park close to another car because someone might tap your bumper, get a spot in a private lot.

Quit parking like f*cking morons and costing other people parking spots. I’m sure with the snowfall we received yesterday, those of you unable or unwillingly to park the right way will be back at it again in no time.

B. Riedel

UW junior

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