Opinion

PROPOSTITIONS

The views expressed in this section represent a majority vote of the editorial board. The editorial board consists of Vincent Gragnani, Editor in Chief; Bill Burger and Alison Norris, Managing Editors; Jeffey White, Copy Editor; Tom Vu, Opinion Editor; Lauren I. Coartney, News Editor and Robert Fulton, Sports Editor. The endorsements are not necessarily those of the UC Board of Regents, the ASUCSD, nor the entire Guardian staff. Veterans’ BondProp 32: Vote Yes The Guardian endorses Proposition 32, the Veterans’ Bond Act of 2000. Sponsored by Gov. Gray Davis, the bond act would approve $500 million in low-cost, low-interest home and farm loans for Californian veterans. The loans are aimed at California’s Vietnam veteran population. Despite recent criticism of California’s Department of Veterans Affairs by two state watchdogs which stated that the department is grossly inefficient and is not offering attractive loan programs, the Guardian believes recent major reforms to the department are moving it in the right direction. Supporters say the program is self-sufficient, with bonds being solely funded by the vets themselves with their mortgage payments. Without the passage of the bond issue, Cal-Vet loan programs will run out of funding by 2002. The Guardian feels we owe it to our veterans to compensate them for interrupting their lives and risking life and limb for their country. All too often, veterans of war have a difficult time readjusting after war, and they deserve all the help they can get. With low-interest loans with low down payments, more of them will be able to afford homes, and many would be able to afford better homes in safer neighborhoods. With the armed forces increasingly struggling to meet recruitment goals, it does not help to see war veterans and their families living in unsafe neighborhoods, unable to afford homes. Therefore, the Guardian believes it is essential for morale and recruitment numbers that we treat our veterans like the heroes they are, and help them to improve their lives and the lives of their families Legislative RetirementProp 33: Vote Yes The Guardian endorses Proposition 33, which would allow members of the state legislature to receive the same retirement benefits as part of the Public Employees Retirement System as any other state employee, without any additional perks. If passed, the proposition would provide incentive for ordinary citizens to serve in the legislature. Proposition 33 would also reverse aspects of Proposition 140, passed by California voters in 1990, to discourage career politicians. Proposition 140 enacted term limits of six years in the Assembly and eight years in the Senate, and also excluded members from receiving pension through PERS. Legislature members should receive the same benefits as other state employees. Retirement benefits should not be considered a “”perk;”” they should be considered a privilege that every state worker has the right to take advantage of. Opponents of Proposition 33 argue that legislative members receive $99,000 salaries and should invest in a 401K on their own instead of receiving what opponents feel to be underserved benefits. Although Assembly members serve only six years, they may serve up to 14 if they also serve in the Senate. This is a long time to go without accruing basic retirement benefits. Through the plan, legislature members would get benefits according to standard procedure. They may opt to set aside up to 5 percent of their paycheck. If the investment portfolio does well, members will receive interest. If it stays the same, the member’s 5 percent will be matched. The costs to the state are relatively low, expected to weigh in at just $1 million. The measure would also eliminate the $121 members receive per day to cover personal expenses, which add up to approximately $25,000 in tax-free money per year. Giving members of the legislature a pension instead of play money is a more sound approach to taking care of their financial needs. In addition, a vote against Proposition 33 will most likely mean that few but the rich will be able to hold a job in the legislature. Most members are part of a retirement plan with their existing job before they come to serve on the legislature and must forfeit up to 14 years of benefits. Public office holders should not have to do this. The Guardian endorses Proposition 33 because it is not about further accommodating members of the legislature, but rather, about treating them the same as everyone else. Campaign FinanceProp 34: Vote No Sen. John McCain from Arizona campaigned hard for the issue of campaign finance reform while he was running for president. Proposition 34 brings campaign finance reform to the forefront in California. While the proposition has good intentions, the details show the inadequacies of Proposition 34. Therefore, the Guardian cannot endorse this proposition. Briefly, Proposition 34 would set limits on the amounts individuals and companies contribute to state politicians’ campaigns. The limit of $6,000, primary and general elections combined, for legislative candidates would be implemented with the 2002 elections. A limit of $40,000 will be set for each election cycle for gubernatorial candidates and limits of $10,000 per election cycle will be imposed on all other statewide elections, such as Treasurer and Secretary of State. While Proposition 34 looks attractive standing alone, compared to an earlier campaign finance reform proposition, Proposition 208, it is much weaker. Proposition 208 is much more stringent with the imposed limits — $2,000 each election cycle for statewide candidates and $1,000 each election cycle for legislative candidates who agree to limit their overall campaign spending. If passed, Proposition 34 would nullify the earlier Proposition 208. Another argument against Proposition 34 is that it does nothing to stem the flow of soft money. Soft money is a contribution made to a political party and then distributed to the candidates of the same political party. Considered a loophole in current campaign finance laws, soft money unlimited and unregulated and is the main problem facing campaign finance. Proposition 34 does not supply the type of campaign finance reform that California needs. It nullifies the earlier, more stringent Prop. 208 (still battling through the State Supreme Court) and does not address the huge problem of soft money. For these reasons, the Guardian opposes Proposition 34. Public Works ProjectsProp 35: Vote Yes The Guardian supports Proposition 35, a measure that would allow the state to contract with private entities to provide architectural and engineering services in the construction of public works projects. The measure imposes a competitive selection process in awarding engineering and architectural contracts. Currently, services provided by state agencies generally must be performed by state civil service employees. Contracting to private firms is only allowed if services are of a temporary nature, not available within the civil service, or are of a highly specialized or technical nature. This measure would allow the state government to contract construction-related projects in any case, rather than just on an exception basis. The Guardian supports this measure because we do not believe the government should have a monopoly. California has serious traffic problems, and when the government decides to expand our infrastructure, there is often a backlog of projects. CalTrans cannot do it all alone. When there is a short-term surge in construction activity, contracting for services could be faster than hiring and training new employees. While the fiscal impacts to the state are unknown, we believe that this new competition will save the state money. We are frustrated with traffic problems in this state, and urge a “”yes”” vote on Prop. 35 so that the private and public sectors can work together more efficiently to improve our infrastructure. Drug TreatmentProp 36: Vote No Drugs are a serious problem in the United States. Drug abuse poisons our society, increasing violent crimes and creating a debilitating addiction for anyone who falls prey to narcotics. Something needs to be done to deter the crime and help the addict. We at the Guardian feel that Proposition 36 on Tuesday’s ballot is not the answer, and that a “”no”” vote is suited at the voting booth. Proposition 36 “”diverts certain drug offenders from incarceration to treatment and probation, applicable to those convicted for the first and second time of drug possession offenses and most nonviolent offenders who violate parole using drugs. The measure would allocate $120 million a year for treatment.”” Instead of going to jail, under Propsition 36, convicted drug users would be sentenced to rehabilitation. Rehab alone is not a solution to the drug problem. The fear of spending time in prison is required to deter criminals no matter what the crime. Punishment for breaking the law needs to be doled out. Drug rehab can be done, but it should be done behind bars while the criminal serves the necessary time for his offense as required by law. Proposition 36 is not just one “”get out of jail free”” card. It is a pair of “”get out of jail free”” cards, for “”first and second-time convicted drug possessors.”” How many second chances can someone get? Knowing that there will not be a suitable punishment only encourages drug abuse. It does not in any way deter it. The Guardian feels that addicts do need help in breaking their habit. Proposition 36 means well, but because of lenient consequences, it is not the solution. Vote Requirements: TaxesProp 37: Vote No Proposition 37, a state constitutional amendment to “”redefine certain regulatory fees as taxes,”” is opposed by the Guardian. We feel that, if the proposition passes, it will allow large, polluting companies to avoid paying for wastes. Proposition 37 changes some regulation fees to taxes. While a simple majority in the California Legislature to impose a regulatory fee on companies, taxes require a more stringent two-thirds majoirty to pass. In addition, local taxes require a two-thirds majority of the electorate. Fees do not require voter approval. While it may seem like this proposition would make it more difficult for the government “”to slap a regulatory fee on businesses,”” it also allows large companies to get out of paying for the pollution they cause. If the proposition passes, it would be harder for the government to financially regulate companies’ pollution. Instead of the simple majority required to impose the regulatory fees, it would require a two-thirds majority. The taxpayers would then be left to pay for the clean-up. The list of supporters of the proposition seems to be comprised of the usual big-business corporations: The proposition was placed on the ballot by alcohol, tobacco and oil companies. These types of business have spent millions endorsing Proposition 37 to ensure its passage. Proposition 37 is a suspicious act propagated by big businesses that want to avoid paying for their pollution. It is bad for California and the Guardian opposes this proposition. School VouchersProp 38: Vote No Proposition 38, if passed on Nov. 7, would authorize minimum annual state payments of $4,000 to any private educational institution to which a parent chooses to send his child. Although it is intended to diversify and embellish the academic experiences of California students, the initiative is rampant with flaws and is not supported by the Guardian. Although Proposition 38 states that private schools wishing to redeem state-issued vouchers cannot “”advocate unlawful behavior”” or “”discriminate on the basis or race, ethnicity, color or national origin,”” the proposed amendment does not protect Californians (students or not) from enduring the violation of one essential concept upon which our nation was founded. According the U.S. Constitution and a handful of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the state cannot entangle itself in the affairs of religious institutions, such as religiously based private schools. That Proposition 38 could annually channel $1.1 billion of taxpayers’ money toward religious private schools proves that the initiative is inconsistent with the rhetoric of our national identity and one of Americans’ most cherished rights — freedom from state-endorsed religion. Not only does Proposition 38 make an obvious leap over the church-state boundary, but it also restricts state and local authorities from demanding that private schools receiving voucher money meet state academic requirements. Furthermore, the proposition establishes significant new restrictions on the ability of governments to adopt new regulations regarding private schools. Specifically, local governments could not establish new health, safety or land use regulations for private schools unless they attain a two-thirds approval of the local governing body in addition to a majority vote in an election held in the affected area. These burdensome restrictions would make it nearly impossible for local citizens to demand that private schools adhere to important changes such as updated health codes, bans on expansion due to environmental issues, or even improved fire and earthquake regulations. Overall, Proposition 38’s authors may have meant well by attempting to increase students’ educational options and trying to eliminate economic barriers to the private school experience, but we believe the initiative they have placed on the November ballot is not only unconstitutional, but also unfair to the students who may end up stuck in schools that cannot be forced to meet state academic standards, local health ordinances, or even environmental regulations. The Guardian refuses to endorse this risky initiative and encourages voters to vote no on Proposition 38. School Facilities BondsProp 39: Vote Yes California schools are in an awful state of despair. Overcrowded classrooms are the norm and the buildings are run-down. Students are packed like sardines into dilapidated buildings and are expected to receive a proper education. The Guardian believes that Proposition 39 can be a solution to the problem and deserves a “”yes”” vote. According to the Voter Information Pamphlet, Proposition 39 “”makes it easier to get voter approval of local bonds for school construction, which are paid off though higher property taxes. The current requirement that bonds be approved by two-thirds of voters would be lowered to 55 percent.”” This is the best thing that can be done to help schools. Institutions of learning are important to our society and need the money, and they rely on bonds to provide the necessary funds. Because of today’s stringent two-thirds rule, it is sometimes impossible for a well-meaning bond to pass. Nothing gets accomplished, and it is the children that end up getting hurt. Some bonds do not pass because homeowners refuse to give back to the community in which they live. Many older citizens often do not feel it is necessary to help out the younger members of the community. In reality, the burden to a homeowner on paying back bonds comes down to a few dollars a month, and Proposition 39 would free up this much-needed money. Lowering the required votes to 55 percent shields well-intentioned schools from being denied funds to build new classrooms. At the same time it does not make the law too lenient, which a simple majority vote would do. Our public schools need drastic help. Proposition 39 is a step in the right direction. ...

2000 ELECTION Guide

The views expressed in this section represent a majority vote of the editorial board. The editorial board consists of Vincent Gragnani, Editor in Chief; Bill Burger and Alison Norris, Managing Editors; Jeffey White, Copy Editor; Tom Vu, Opinion Editor; Lauren I. Coartney, News Editor and Robert Fulton, Sports Editor. The endorsements are not necessarily those of the UC Board of Regents, the ASUCSD, nor the entire Guardian staff. or the position of President of the United States, the Guardian editorial board endorses Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush. This endorsement meant different things to different editorial board members, with some asserting an affinity for Bush’s plans and record, while others put forth their endorsement strictly as a vote for the lesser of two evils. The jewel in the crown of Bush’s record in Texas is his history of reforming defunct school systems and the equitable way in which he has made these changes. When Bush took office in Texas, children in his state ranked close to the bottom in every educational category, including being rated 51st in the nation, behind Puerto Rico, in many. Since his election, Texas students have made greater strides in reading and mathematics than any other state in the nation. Bush’s plan for the country’s education reform includes giving public schools a finite amount of time to make strides toward improvement. If schools do not show this improvement in a certain period of time, the parents of the children who go to these schools will be given the option to send their children to another public school. Bush also wants to move education control to a local level to avoid bureaucracy. Unlike Gore, Bush gives the school districts the power to decide what to spend their funds on. Gore uses a formula that, in our opinion, is too inflexible to be effective. Perhaps the most impressive part of Texas’ educational reform under Bush is the manner in which it has undergone those reforms. Improvement in reading and mathematics has keyed Texas’ overall improvement, with African-American and Hispanic children showing the biggest improvements. These improvements to minority education levels show the importance Bush puts on equality, something that most members of his party do not, and something that the Guardian feels is of utmost importance. The Guardian also feels that Bush’s tax plan is one of great forethought. He calls for a tax cut across the board, putting more money back into the pockets of the people and bolstering consumer spending. His plan does not “”squander”” the surplus, as some allege. Rather, he plans to return one-quarter of the surplus to the taxpayers that earned it. Although Gore has attacked Bush for allegedly planning tax cuts for the richest Americans, further inspection of the Bush tax plan shows that the rich receive the smallest percentage cut, while the majority of the cut goes to the poorest Americans. About six million of America’s poorest families will have their taxes completely alleviated under Bush’s plan. Tax cuts of this nature have historically been shown to kick off economic booms, with Lyndon B. Johnson’s original 30 percent tax cut standing out above the others. Many point to President Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts and the deficit they allegedly caused. On the contrary, Reagan’s cuts did not cause the deficit; his exorbitant defense spending, something that Bush does not endorse, caused it. One thing that seems to separate Bush from the other members of the Republican party, a group whose candidates rarely get the endorsements of news publications, is his desire to make Washington a bipartisan place. Currently, partisan politics dominate legislative action, frustrating Americans to the point of exhaustion. In Texas, Bush worked with Democrats to institute tax cuts and overhaul the defunct Texas educational system. We are not naive enough to believe that he can be as successful at breaking down party lines in Washington as he was in Austin, but any attempt to destroy these seemingly indestructible barriers would be good for Americans. Although Ralph Nader, the Green Party’s presidential nominee, brings a breath of fresh air to this campaign, the Guardian feels that he is a one-dimensional candidate lacking expertise broad enough to run the most powerful nation in the world. We could not endorse Nader for the post of president in good faith. Gore is the other major choice in this election. He has been a proponent of the environment since his time in Congress, so if the health of the environment is of primary concern, looking further into Gore’s credentials would be warranted. However, the Guardian feels that his strong environmental record does not come close to making up for his shortcomings. Gore will say anything and everything he can to try to sway the vote in his direction. From the well-publicized “”I invented the Internet”” quote to a claim that he did not know that a trip to a Buddhist temple was a fund-raiser, Gore has lied throughout the campaign in order to attempt to win votes. The Guardian believes it is time for this deception to come to an end. Perhaps it is naive to believe that Bush will be any more honest or uphold the integrity of the office of president. It is impossible to know how Bush will react if he is voted into office, but the Guardian editorial board believes that this chance is one worth taking. The post of president of the United States was never intended to be so glorious and powerful that people would say or do anything to get there. It was intended to be a representative post of the thoughts and beliefs of the American people. George Washington was elected not because he lied to mix up the issues at hand, but because the people believed him to be the best man for the job. Gore wants to be president too badly. In the process of striving for it he has alienated the people whom he is relying on. This was the primary reason the Guardian was unable to support the vice president, and instead supports his opponent, George W. Bush. ...

McCain Pushes for Reform

A short while ago, the Balkans were in dire circumstances. This geopolitically important region, the area where World War I began, experienced an oppressive dictatorship, civil war, genocide and a late international community response, among other injustices. Finally, the people of Serbia were given the opportunity to participate in a free general election. They were able to voice their opinions on the government’s organization and operation — or so they believed. Slobodan Milosovic, however, denied his people this privilege by suppressing the results of the election and scheduling a run-off election. The people decided to take the government by force and throw Milosovic out of office. These actions should provide us with the inspiration to get involved in our political affairs. Shortly, American citizens, too, will have the opportunity to get involved in their country’s political process. In the upcoming elections, the people of the most powerful nation in the world will be given the honor and opportunity to decide who will lead this country and the rest of the world in the next century. There has not been an election this important in the nation’s history since the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s. Yet, this will probably be the election with the lowest turnout in recorded history. This disconcerting and saddening thought should weigh deeply on the American public. In this country, there simply does not exist an interest in politics and national or international affairs. Why should a country with such a strong democratic institution and secure civil liberties have such a low level of citizen interest in its political process? The answer is that the government has pushed the people away. The people feel as if they really do not have any say in the way their government operates. The powerful interest groups and multibillion dollar industries, by buying the necessary access to the levers of powers, really control this country. However, there is hope. At the beginning of the year, during the Republican primaries, there existed an astonishing amount of interest in politics. Most amazing of all was the involvement of the youth, primarily college students. The figure who captured this nationwide attention was Sen. John McCain with his campaign finance reform agenda, found in the McCain-Finegold Bill. This bill proposes to reform the manner in which candidates receive their political contributions. If passed, it will put an end to soft money donations, which allow undisclosed and unlimited contribution amounts. Soft money allows wealthy industries or individuals to have a large and dominant voice. If this bill passes, there would be an acceptable maximum contribution from each source, which would have to be declared. This way, the American public would know which organizations and individuals support each candidate. For the first time in a long while, the American people saw the potential to cause change in the selection of their leaders and to empower themselves by disempowering special interests. The basis for a political revolution was set in place. For the first time in this country’s history, someone dared to challenge the system and had the opportunity to sneak in and take the election away from the mainstream candidates. By preaching campaign finance reform and inspiring the nation’s youth, including me, McCain created many enemies for himself. Career politicians and important business figures distanced themselves from this radical maverick, who always speaks his mind regardless of popular response and who preaches absurdities that could destroy the very fabric of their way of living. How else would politicians raise money and secure their re-election if it were not for the elite buying access? More importantly, how else would the elite monopolize the voice in the decisions made for the benefit of this country? America’s youth were inspired and motivated by this man and his personal quest to restructure the government. His actions spurred a desire to rid this country of its cynicism and lack of interest in politics. It became popular to care and take an active interest in politics. McCain, however, still fights on in the Senate for his great cause. While he has had some success in the Senate passing bills while en route to his ultimate goal, he still has a long road ahead of him. The candidacy of Vice President Al Gore, although his party and McCain’s stand at odds, offers some hope for McCain’s vision. Gore has vowed to make campaign finance reform a strong and immediate priority in his agenda if elected to office. He will support a major portion, if not all of the McCain-Finegold Bill. Gov. George W. Bush, however, has not committed anything toward this important legislation. Perhaps Bush’s lack of commitment stems from the fact that the two-party system in which he is entrenched is designed to silence people like McCain and ensure that they pose no threat. The naive youth, who had the misfortune of believing in and supporting a man in Washington, find that they were right to protect themselves with cynicism. Despite Bush’s refusal to accept the McCain-Finegold Bill, McCain now campaigns heavily for Bush and supports him for the upcoming election. One would think that a maverick such as McCain would ignore party lines and support the man who promises to finish his revolution. By saying he wanted to rid the country of the stranglehold that the powerful elite have on this country, McCain revved up a new generation of voters, and disappointed them. He did this by perpetuating politics as usual. However, the sadder part of McCain’s absence in the general election is the simultaneous absence of interest in the elections, particularly among young voters. I was proud for a while to belong to a generation that had the hope and desire to make positive changes in its environment. Most importantly, we had an active interest in the world. Despite this disappointment, there is one lesson to learn from the McCain campaign: One must voice one’s opinions loudly to cause change. Voting is essential, especially in this election. Next week, the people of this nation will have the same opportunity to participate in their government that their Eastern European counterparts had. In spite of our disappointments, we can set aside our justified cynicism and achieve a similar level of participation, and hopefully trigger the passage of the revolutionary McCain-Finegold Bill. ...

Letters to the Editor

Retiring Member of UCSD deserves commendation Editor: I would like to relate a story of commitment and service by an outstanding retiring member of the UCSD community. As time was approaching to take a campus tour for what would likely be my last time with Larry Barrett, I realized how long I had known him and how gracious he had been over those 25 years. My daughter Jackie, a high school senior, invited herself along to see my alma mater and potentially hers. Larry spent almost an entire day out of his hectic schedule showing us a campus that has grown up in 40 years to be a school that, at its current level of maturity, is not recognizable to me. I was one of his first student interns in 1976 in the housing and food administration department at UCSD. The campus had approximately 10,000 students then, whereas today it has over 20,000 students. He went on to explain to my daughter that had it not been for his prodding, I might arguably have taken more time to graduate than I did. It was difficult to leave such a beautiful beach resort like La Jolla. Two of my sisters and a brother-in-law all came into contact with Larry over the years and all were received by him and aided by his generosity of time and expertise as they pursued their educations at UCSD. As I see the regentrification and the metamorphosis of UCSD to a world-class university, I cannot help but think of how much Larry has played a part in this process. Food and housing for us as new university students are the lifeblood of our collective existence as we separate from our families for the first time to proceed toward this new path of exploration that we collectively term the college experience. For me, he was an adviser in tough times and a coach in others, but fundamentally, he was a guidepost throughout. As the years rolled on, and each of my subsequent visits to the campus allowed me to see the new challenges that Larry and the university had to meet, I could see he had met each with creative solutions. As I neared the end of our campus tour, I began to realize the magnitude of the people he had come in contact with and had impacted over his 35 years of service. As I reflect on the trail that Larry leaves behind with this great university, I realize what a great leader and devoted public servant UCSD is losing. May we, as alumni and current students, be so fortunate to find someone to replace Larry that is as genuine and devoted as he has been to this university, my family and me? Thank you Larry, we will miss your class, style and leadership. — Paul A. Trevino Laguna Beach, Calif. Class of 1979 Warren College Christians Should Speak Out I am sorry that your writer Arnel Guiang is so passionately against Christianity on this campus. I can understand how the invitations to Christian events could be overwhelming to someone who is not a Christian. His point of view seems to be that of an individual who is merely annoyed by Christian pressure. It is his right to feel angry at the “”imbalance”” in Christianity when compared to religious groups, although it is not numbers that cause unbalance but the amount of heart we put into it. (Actually, I took it as a complement that he believed Christianity to be more represented than any religious group on campus, because I do not think the low number of 700 involved Christians affects the 19,000-member campus so much.) I wanted also to explain to him, on a more personal basis, that spreading the good news of Jesus is my job as a Christian. I know how wonderful it is to be in communion with God because of Jesus’ sacrifice to us on the cross. God has a plan for my life. He loves me more than I can imagine; He provides for me and He strengthens me. In my knowing that all people in this world can also have that relationship with God, how could I possibly be so selfish as to hold myself back from spreading the good news of Jesus? Not meaning to offend him or belittle his personal beliefs, I would like to suggest that he give Christianity a chance. We should all be given the chance to rightly accept or reject the beliefs of others, so instead of passing up those opportunities of joining the “”crusade,”” see for sure if Christianity is nothing more than an obstacle, rather than a path to life. Our passion comes from God and the validity of Christianity. — Sunny Parisi UCSD Student ...

Author Makes Unsuccesful Bid for Success

I am a paranoid, insecure, procrastinating, illogical student. I’m also poor. It may be due to the fact that I spend all my hard-earned money buying self-help books that I think will solve my problems but miraculously always fail. I have always been a sucker for shows like “”Oprah”” and “”The View;”” shows that promise to help you “”remember your spirit”” and reawaken your inner goddess. Something about the sappy music and the spiritually awakened guests always hits right where it hurts: in the wallet. I go off and buy the latest book to hit the self-help stands so I can A) organize my time better, B) learn to be happy even though my grades are failing and I still haven’t kissed a guy and, C) discover God in everything from hair gel to toilet paper. My friends think I’m nuts. More than $200 later, I am still as bitter and unorganized as before. I’ve perused through the books of the granddaddy of self-help, Dale Carnegie, I’ve highlighted the prose of Anthony Robbins, I have even memorized some of the spiritual laws of the enlightened Deepak Chopra to no success. Oh, sure, it works for a few days, even weeks at the most. Yet, my old self comes creeping back to me with a velocity of immeasurable force, and suddenly, Divya, the rational, articulate and organized girl, transforms like Dr. Jekyl into Mr. Hyde, and the dream of an improved me becomes dust. Alright, I’ll admit that last sentence was a bit dramatic, which makes me recall that exaggerating situations is highly frowned upon by the self-help community. I’ve come to realize how difficult it is to not “”stress the small stuff”” when small things like banging your baby toe against a door or having uneven eyebrows due to a bad waxing experience are actually quite annoying. OK, maybe Buddha may have found it easy to be able to achieve an enlightened sense of being every day, but I doubt he would have been too happy if he had two midterms, a paper and next month’s rent looming in front of him. In fact, I think he would have been downright irritated if he had to dodge crazy San Diego drivers and try to say a mantra at the same time. Come to think of it, I don’t think Oprah or Dr. Schlessinger would be able to maintain a higher consciousness if their shows were about to be canceled. The fact is, self-help books do very little if you are already a little loony from the beginning. Unfortunately, it has taken a few Benjamins to point me in the right direction. Perhaps it may be better if I just accept my inadequacies. I realize it may be better to be imperfect yet still unique. And who needs to be on time everytime, excluding firefighters and paramedics of course. I may as well accept my character flaws as quirks instead of weaknesses, although I’m sure my future husband would have a few problems with that. Just in case self-help books work though, I have a back-up plan. Stashed in my car, alongside a cell phone for emergency uses, I have a copy of the “”Seven Habits of Highly Effective People””carefully placed in my car. I’ve skipped chapters one through four, but I think I may still glean something important from the remaining few. Of course I wouldn’t be so dumb as to mention this to my therapist. I don’t think he would be too happy to hear that. ...

Props & Flops

Thumbs up to Chancellor Dynes and his wife for donating approximately 178,000 to undergraduate scholorships. Thumbs down to WebReg going down all day Tuesday. Too bad we can’t still use TeSS. ...

Paradox in American Political Arena Exists In Absense of a True Leader

One of the characters of Antonio Tabucchi’s novel “”Sostiene Pereira,”” set in Portugal in the early years of the Salazar regime, says something to the effect of this: Democracy and egalitarianism are good for the British and the Americans, but we are Latin, and all we need is a leader that we can follow and love. My Latin eye looks at these words with a sad comprehension, but my American eye looks at them with a certain satisfaction. These words come back to my mind every time I hear somebody — especially on TV, it seems — talk about the crisis of leadership in this country, and how the next president should not really be competent in this or that but should only posses that ineffable “”leadership”” quality, statements of which everybody seems to know the meaning except me. While this kind of talk appears to be rather productive for one George W. Bush — well-known not to be competent in any area of human knowledge, except maybe in the ineffable ones like “”leadership”” — to claim that leadership was invented by Bush’s campaign would probably be going too far. The leadership issue has been around a lot longer than the Bush candidacy. In front of this wave of followers’ love in search of a target, I would like to propose the observation that, if there is one thing that America does not want, it is a leader. In truth, it seems like Americans are at their best when they are deprived of a leader or when they consciously reject one. Examples of this rule can be found in such disparate areas that I would propose it as general, but for the time being, I will limit it to political arguments. The American political tradition is a mix of declared pride in its form of government and substantial distrust of the same government. This is a cultural point of departure for America from its European origins and, as such, one of the points that characterizes the American experience. In Europe, especially in very dirigible countries like France, the government is not just expected to administer the services, but also to set the moral and cultural tone of society. Americans do not expect this from their government and have been known to strongly oppose any proposal in this direction. In other words, Americans do not want their government or their president (who is the most visible embodiment of the government) to be a leader of society, just a good administrator. I will not comment on this attitude. I think it has advantages and disadvantages but debating them would take me too far. I will just take note of the fact that this is what most Americans see as the role of the government and their president. Even if Americans do not specifically call for a leader, how does the political system adjust to the presence of one? In the past, presidents exercised strong leadership on a number of occasions. In many of these instances, such exercise went — in the short run, at least — against the opinions of a large part of the population. The end of slavery was strongly opposed by the agricultural Southern establishment, political support to the civil rights movement was opposed by many people in Southern states, and women’s suffrage was opposed by, well, men. These social innovations were eventually accepted by the majority but, at the time in which they were hot topics, all conservatives and a lot of moderates opposed them. Leadership is the capacity to go against such strong opposition and get away with it. Given these characteristics, what are the chances that a truly charismatic political leader would be accepted in the current political climate? Very slim at best. The public opinion is more and more uniform and directed toward acquiescence to the status quo, and in recent years we have seen the emergence of a fast mechanism by which public opinion can be coalesced and fed back to the political class. To resist this constant pressure from the public opinion and the polls would indeed require a person of uncommon characteristics; somebody willing to risk political suicide to defend certain principles. Unfortunately, these are not the characteristics that would lead one to electoral victory. An example of this attitude is the singular fate of Bill Clinton. Probably the most intelligent and charismatic president in 40 years, his first attempt to use his leadership capacity, the ill-fated health care reform of 1993-1994, generated a nationwide commotion against him to the point that he has had to fight an uphill battle for the rest of his two terms. America is therefore caught in a double impossibility. On one hand, its cultural heritage and political structure make it diffident to excessive leadership; a softer distribution of power is preferred. This distribution is breaking down into several important points, but that is a topic for a different column. On the other hand, the characteristics of the electoral process generate an incompatibility between the personal qualities of a leader and those necessary to become a president, as the current batch of major party candidates painfully reminds us. Even among them, Al Gore will probably lose the presidency because he has shown a certain knowledge of facts and numbers. George W. Bush has lied about pretty much everything during the campaign, but these lies are perceived as consequence of his ignorance and, incredibly, this fact makes him appealing and might send him to the White House. Forget about a leader. Americans want a president they can look down on. If one accepts — at least in first approximation — my analysis, it is quite natural to wonder why the question of leadership capacities comes out so soften in the political debate. The most obvious reason is that people are seldom coherent. This explanation has the advantage to apply to everything but it explains pretty much nothing. I will propose another one. It is a puritan belief that hard work and strong will bring success. But as we all know very well, this is not always the case. In this case, rather than assuming a fatalist attitude more characteristic of Catholicism, it is often easier to look for somebody to blame. I cannot help but notice that blame assignment is a particularly lively activity in America. This is why we need a leader; having the power and the moral responsibility to ensure the public satisfaction, he will be the automatic and obvious target of every popular disappointment. Creating a leader and then crushing him is a lot more satisfying, observing that certain laws and decisions that receive widespread public support often generate side effects that the same public finds unappealing. ...

Editorials

Vincent Gragnani, Editor in ChiefBill Burger, Managing EditorJeffrey White, Copy EditorTom Vu, Opinion EditorLauren I. Coartney, News EditorRobert Fulton, Sports EditorDavid Pilz, Photo Editor In the past several weeks, most polls have written off the idea of Gov. George W. Bush winning California. Vice President Al Gore had, for most of the campaign season, held a substantial lead over Bush in this state, even with Ralph Nader contending. Recently, however, under the barrage of television ads, the lead that Gore had once taken for granted has now dwindled. Gore, on the other hand, “”has yet to spend a dime on ads here,”” as the Wall Street Journal states. By swiping California from under Gore’s nose, Bush could rack up 54 Electoral College votes and, with it, the presidential election. More troubling to Gore are the states north of California. While Gore still leads in the Golden State, Oregan and Washington are considered integral swing states. And he is slowly losing ground there. Thanks to a devious television blitz by Bush supporterssome polls even show the Vice President losing these important states. The Guardian cannot help but to congratulate Bush and his supporters for their tactful, if a bit Machiavellian, campaign strategies. Bush has continued to show his resilience in California, and it has paid off. Just yesterday, Bush and John McCain were in Fresno and Burbank campaigning. “”There’s going to be a lot of shocked people on Nov. 7, including my opponent … ,”” Bush said yesterday. Perhaps he might be correct. Gore has only recently decided to visit California. Perhaps this shows his campaign’s inefficiency. Only now, after the prospect of losing California has he decided to come to Los Angeles tomorrow, his first visit to this state in more than six weeks. There has yet to be a presidential election in recent memory in which the winner has not taken California and its 54 votes, more than any state in the nation. Perhaps now, politicians will begin to take California seriously. In the much smaller states of Oregon and Washington, the same reality faces Gore. The televison ads the Bush supporters are running do not mention the name “”Bush”” at all. Rather, the ads are endorsements for Nader. Gore is not leading by a large margin, and the votes that Nader pulls away from him can tip the states to Bush’s favor. And, for the most part, it seems to be working. Though the Guardian has yet to decide whom to endorse, Bush’s strategies deserve applause. ...

Prop. 38: Referendum on the Future of Schools

This November, Californians will be able to vote for a change in the education policy of our great state. If passed, Proposition 38 will give all Californians the chance to send their children to high-quality private schools. For any child, parents can receive a $4,000 voucher every year to be spent on school tuition. Currently, California spends over $8,000 per student on public education, so vouchers will actually save the state money rather than cause an increase in taxes. This public infusion of cash will increase parents’ available funds to spend on education and consequently increase the demand for a better education system. It is the goal of the proposition that the increase in demand for education will not only encourage the opening of more private schools but also force the public education system to greatly raise its quality of teaching. At issue here is not whether something needs to be done in California to overhaul the state’s abysmal education system. California ranks 49th in the nation in math proficiency, 50th in class size, 51st in teacher to student ratio (yes, that would be behind Puerto Rico, folks), and 51st in computers per student. These statistics are not too impressive for a state that, if were it to be a sovereign nation, would have the eighth-largest economy in the world. Obviously, something has to be done to change this. State-run public education in this state is simply embarrassing. It has been left in the hands of the government for far too long, and it is time to take it back. One word permeates when big government is referred to: bureaucracy. Anyone not familiar with this word need simply walk into any administration building on this campus and witness the complete and utter inefficiency and incompetence of the government at work. Simply put, government institutions are inherently bureaucratic and public education is as bureaucratic as it gets. A decision of any significance made by a public institution must pass through so much red tape, paperwork and political bumblings that it is impossible for our public school system to be responsive and cutting-edge. How can we expect our children to keep pace with a society moving forward at an astounding rate if public schools are just now beginning to concede that children of all ages need to have access to computers? The availability of school vouchers to every parent in California will empower the public and give parents the ability to choose who will educate their children. The parents can take this choice away from some bureaucrat in Sacramento who sees their child as a number, a cost and a future constituent. Private schooling will no longer be a privilege set aside for the rich. Instead, the children who need help the most will get the boost they need to reach their goals. In examining any public policy, one must look at who the proposition is meant to help. While Proposition 38 will indeed give all parents the ability to take advantage of $4,000 per year for private school, it is the economically underprivileged who truly stand to benefit from the introduction of vouchers. Inner-city and other areas of poor economic standing have, by far, the worst public schools in the state. In Los Angeles, the closer children live to downtown, the worse their public schools get. Within a 10-mile radius of the center of Los Angeles, 22 elementary schools received an “”A”” school rating in the year 2000 based on their Academic Performance Index score, an aptitude test taken by all students and averaged for the school as a whole. Reduce it to a five-mile radius and you get only one school who received an “”A.”” If a person is brave enough to go within a two-mile radius of downtown, one “”D-“” tops a long list of “”F’s.”” Compare this data to that of Palo Alto where within a 10-mile radius of downtown, 40 schools have “”A”” ratings, and within two miles, 16 schools received “”A’s”” in 2000. There is an educational divide in this state and the line is clearly drawn along racial, ethnic and socio-economic boundaries. For families living in the inner city, parents have no choice but to send their children to schools like Lincoln Elementary in the Compton Unified School District, where only 13 percent of teachers have full teaching credentials. Our society cannot be content with this being parents’ only choice for their children’s education. It is, however, futile to argue that inner-city schools are not in need of some serious change, so let us focus on what can be done now to help kids growing up in such deplorable schools. We do not need a government program to increase funding slowly over the next five years. We need a fix now. Children who will be starting kindergarten next fall need to have the choice to attend a school with qualified teachers, sufficient supplies and an environment in which they can flourish and avoid following the same path as this year’s kindergarten class at Lincoln. As income distribution in the United States, and especially in California, becomes increasingly skewed, we cannot continue to let education do the same. The one true way to start to chip away at the economic gap in this state is to start at the bottom. Better educated 5 year-olds means better educated 12-year-olds who will become better educated 18-year-olds getting into better colleges and making a life for their children better than it was for themselves. School vouchers and the empowerment of parents will accomplish this goal. The issue at hand here is choice. Pure and simple, parents deserve a choice when sending their kids to school. If they do not want to send their child to the local public school for whatever reason, they should not have to. Parents have a choice in virtually everything concerning their children; why not education? The government has had its chance to educate children and it has failed. In a few years, when we have children of our own, we will have the luxury of choice as a result of an education system designed to benefit us. What about those whom the system is designed to ignore? Will the government still choose for them? Now is our chance to ensure that all children will have the chance to grow up with the opportunities and choices they deserve. School vouchers take power from the few and give it back to those from which that power is derived: the people. ...

Letters the Editor

Editor: You know them well … or at least you should know them well. We write our checks to them for fees, parking tickets and on-campus housing. Of course, I am talking about the UC Regents. The regents are the ultimate decision-makers in the University of California, and their next meeting is Nov. 15 to Nov. 16 at the UCLA campus. This meeting is important for many people and especially important for students. At the November meeting, the regents will review and pass the annual budget for the university. The budget will detail the base expenditures and a list of initiatives the universities has planned if the California legislature provides the required financial resources. After this meeting, the real fun begins. Chancellors, administrators and UC lobbyists use the budget approved in November to pressure elected officials to allocate enough funding to make everyone in the university happy. Not surprisingly, students are often left out of the UC budget process. Although our needs are great, student concerns and budget priorities are often overlooked. This year, the University of California Student Association, a coalition of student government associations, has developed a unique budget proposal for the UC Regents to consider. The budget proposal asks the university to increase the financial support to student retention services by $30 million. This proposal would not increase student fees, as opposed to funding these services through a student fee referendum. Student retention services are vital programs that greatly improve the quality of our education and increase the retention rates of underrepresented students. Student health centers, multicultural centers, disability resources centers and counseling services are all excellent examples of student retention services. The services have not seen any substantial new funding increases in over 10 years. Insufficient funding threatens the existence of these programs and limits the amount of resources these services can provide. In addition to assisting students with course work and helping new students make the transition into college life, student services play a key role in recruiting students of color, women and low-income students for the University of California. In the absence of affirmative action, the university must take concrete steps to make our campuses a welcome place for all students. It must increase support to campus retention services by $30 million. Contact the Associated Students to get involved with the UCSA’s retention services campaign at (858) 534-0474, and urge the regents to include $30 million for student retention services in their 2001-2002 budget. — Dylan de Kervor Associate lobbyist director A.S. external affairs office ...