Opinion

Stealing Health from the Poor

Recall about five months ago, a certain change in our history occurred. The United States had an election to find a leader for the world’s strongest free country. Do you recall one of the pressing issues, arguably the one that determined the result of the election? Yes, I am talking about health care. Health care is a pressing issue; one that needs to be dealt with immediately. The state of Florida, which played a large role in determining our president, and which also has a large elderly community, considered health care the foremost issue in the 2000 presidential election. So, the logical question that should come to mind is this: How has one of the biggest issues of the election been handled by our new President? I am sorry to report that nothing successful has happened, and I fear nothing productive will happen soon. Unfortunately, the administration of President Bush has taken steps to thrust health care into an abyss, destroying what ex-President Clinton attempted to accomplish by modernizing our system of care. In his proposed budget, President Bush eliminates health care funding by 86 percent for programs that assisted ill citizens who lack insurance. The administration cited “”efficiency”” as the reason for the drastic cut in the program that helped the people who need help the most. Wow! What a drastic action by our president. But we must give him credit for trying, right? Furthermore, he must have a program he will institute that is more efficient and a better system for providing health care. Sorry, I don’t think so! President Bush’s administration has cited no plan to alleviate the mounting need for assistance for the millions of people who do not have health insurance in our country. Furthermore, the plans that have been announced seem to mainly help the rich, a recurring theme in the Bush administration. I beg the president to rethink what he plans to do. Health care is not a privilege — and it should not be — although it has become so in our capitalist society. Ultimately, health care relates to the right and ability to live. As I recall, this country was founded on the fact that everyone — every last human being — has the right to life. By giving one person a better chance at living than another, one demeans the ethical basis of medical service that each of our doctors vows to accomplish. Thus, Bush’s attempt to cut back the current health care system is a strategy amiss. Clearly, we should realize that Bush’s budget cut for health care is directly related to his attempt to pass the largest tax cut in American history. Drastic budget cuts are necessary to implement the tax cut. In this tax cut, what Bush attempts to explain as giving back money to all Americans, one sees clearly that the rich of America will profit more. So, ultimately, Bush’s administration takes money from programs to help the poor and gives it to the rich. If only Karl Marx could see us now! This policy implemented by the president is incredibly misplaced. One should look to the countries whose health care is more successful than ours before implementing any plan that affects our citizens’ health. Australia, with arguably the best health care in the world, is one such country. Australia provides health care to every citizen regardless of their type of insurance, or lack thereof. A true socialistic program, Australia’s health care system has been implemented to treat any person, no matter where they may be in the country or what their income is. Although the taxes in Australia are higher due to the government’s economic duties to pay for this program, universal health care helps not only to stimulate economy at lower levels of labor, but also at high-level, white-collar jobs. Also, citizens never have to worry about paying for medical service. Wealth is never an issue in treating the country. The United States must realize this, and fund such programs, rather than cut them. The class of citizens that mostly suffers from lack of health insurance is that of lower class laborers, who are the basis of our economy and production. By providing for these people, America benefits as a whole. Proponents of Bush’s actions may cite the future as time for Bush to fix our health care system. However, as cited by the White House, future allotments for health care will go mainly to research and training of doctors and nurses. This does nothing for the millions who lack proper health care due to lack of insurance. This is merely to help prevention of diseases, and it is critical to note that citizens without insurance will never benefit from this. Clinton, who made many strides to mend our health system, realized the basis of health care is tending to the poor. Without realizing this, the health care system is solely another capitalistic company that preys on poor victims who work hard to get through each day. Health care should not to be a privilege only certain men and women can have. Rather, our president should realize that it is a necessity to make America the great country that it is. His actions should be to foster programs to help the poor, and not to cut their legs out from under them. ...

High Cost of Books Hits Wallets Hard

As I casually strolled through the bookstore looking for the endless number of textbooks required for my four very demanding classes this quarter, I nearly had a heart attack. The prices I came upon for nearly every book were a crock. I don’t know about everyone else, but I am a starving college student who simply cannot afford to pay nearly $400 for books that I have not, and will not, use in the near future. Yes, I agree that books are the key to our education, and reading is fundamental to our future, but couldn’t they cost a little bit less than the horrendous, eye-popping, hair pulling prices they have now? According to studies that I have personally done with friends, roommates and classmates here at UCSD, the average college student with 12 to 18 units has an average book cost of $200 per quarter. This, I may add, includes the cost of so-called “”used”” books. I myself paid around that much my first quarter, about $50 more my second quarter, and I do not even want to mention how much I will have to pay this quarter, with the 7 books that are required for my classes. With this financial problem at hand, it is no wonder that many students resort to not taking a particular class because of the high cost of books, or are forced to keep renewing the same book at the library so they don’t actually have to buy it. We should even be so lucky most of the time. It is evident that the book cost on campus seems to get higher and higher as time goes by. While some classes require books that are newly revised and cost around $90, other classes require you to buy five books, which add up to around $100. The amount of money a college student has to pay for books, especially at a quarter-based school where we have to do it three times around, is absolutely absurd. It seems to me that there is some kind of money-making scheme that the school is planning to profit from books that college students simply can’t afford. Where exactly does the rest of our money go when a book priced at $80 is actually worth $40? And why don’t professors, booksellers and the school understand the fact that we are students who need as much financial help as possible? As if tuition and room and board were not bad enough, the cost of books has given us added financial pressure that we really do not need. It is sad that we have to pay so much and be cheated from an institution that we greatly depend on for a higher education Now some may be thinking, “”Well there are always the used books, right?”” Wrong. More and more professors are tossing out the old editions of books and requiring new editions the added features of which, usually, aren’t used. Add the fact that when it comes to used books, the early bird catches the worm. Come one day late, and they are probably all gone. With all of these obstacles in place, it is no wonder that most students wind up buying new books at the full price. Another dilemma comes at the end of the quarter, when we have the opportunity to actually sell back the books we’ve bought, and for some of us, barely even used. Yes, we all know that little booth in the Price Center that takes those deadly weapons we call our study tools and gives us back a whole dollar-and-a-half for some textbook that we have spent our life savings on. When it comes to selling back our used books, we are again faced with the fact that the editions we might have bought are going to be replaced the next quarter, and are worth nothing. We are left out of money, and out of a textbook about something we never understood in the first place. Sound familiar? Whining and bitching aside, it is obvious that we really can’t do anything about how the textbooks are priced and how we can make them cheaper. What we can do, however, is resort to other ways of getting our required books without having to spend our savings. Books are almost always put on reserve in the library by professors, and some are even available on the shelves. You can always check out a book from the library, renew it when you can, and return it whenever you are done. If you really want the book to be actually yours, you can always go to Web sites such as http://www.half.com where books are often much cheaper than their counterparts at the bookstore. There is also the Co-op, where some books are available for a few bucks cheaper. With these resources at hand, you don’t have to pull your hair out every time you step foot in the bookstore. It is sad to say that high school days are long gone — days in which books came free, and the only money we spent was for the paper bags to cover them with. For now though, we are forced to pay an astonishing amount of money for textbooks, we have few other choices, since it is part of the package we agreed upon when entering college. Indeed, there are other options we can take when it comes to books at high prices, but we do need them and they do expand our knowledge. Hopefully, with some miracle, books will be free for us college students someday (and pigs will fly) but until then, open up those wallets and expect to have your very own library! ...

Masked Group Fights Against Injustice

Our first encounter was four years ago. It was not very personal or intimate, but while watching him on the TV screen, this masked man left me feeling wonder and intrigue. How could one forget such a man? His leadership, his words, his cause, his voice and his eyes were etched in my memory years before I would realize how important he really is. Placed on posters and T-shirts with the faces of leaders such as Emiliano Zapata and Ernesto Guevara, Subcomandante Marcos stands out as a living leader for the indigenous people of Mexico. An alluring feature of Marcos lies in his mystery. The whole Zorro mystique surrounding the masked man fighting for the people is intriguing. Marcos uses his words rather than a sword to fight, though the mark of the Z now represents the cause and presence of the Zapatistas. And in this case, the mask is not worn by just one, but by all. Though the brilliance and strategy of Marcos as an individual cannot be denied, one man alone is not enough to change years of oppression and under-representation. It takes the collaborative effort of a group willing to fight and persevere through time for its cause. Though Marcos is viewed as the front man for the Zapatistas, he does not stand alone. The black mask that Marcos wears, like all Zapatistas, is symbolic of unity. The masking allows for individuals to put aside physical features and to come together on one level, as one face. The journey of the Zapatistas is not one followed only by indigenous peoples or Mexicans; it possesses an array of international support. The Zapatistas appeal to groups ranging from gay and lesbian activists to feminists. These groups recognize that the fight of the Zapatistas is a fight for all peoples who suffer injustices, discrimination, intolerance and exclusion. The all-encompassing nature of the Zapatistas is amazing and inspiring. There are not many groups that can draw such an mixed crowd of people, a mix that may have its differences but shares a common cause to protest. Sadly, many readers will be seeing the names of Subcomandante Marcos and the Zapatistas for the first time in this article. Many Americans are ignorant of the happenings in Mexico, despite the recent nature and proximity of the events. Although the Zapatistas have been one of the first groups to use the Internet as a communicative tool, yet many people are still unaware of their struggle. The recently completed “”Zapatour,”” the trek of the Zapatistas from their base in Chiapas to the capital of Mexico City, went largely unnoticed by U.S. media. It was front page news when the group first embarked on the journey, but it soon disappeared from the news completely. Was it not entertaining enough for the American public to read about one of the largest grassroots movements in years? This was an event that drew international attention, and it was still not enough to bring proper exposure and explanation of the situation to the American public. It is even more frustrating to think that soon it will be completely out of the “”newsworthy”” category unless it involves death or U.S. intervention. The United States seems to ignore the problems in Mexico because they might hit a little too close to home. Oppression and mistreatment of indigenous peoples? Certainly that would never happen here in the United States. The plight of the Native Americas in this land is all too similar to that of the indigenous peoples of Mexico. The public’s mild obsession with Marcos is more than justified, as he is a man fighting for a cause and selflessly supporting the people who deserve to be given the rights long overdue to them. ...

A.S. Funds Better Spent Elsewhere

It is humorous to observe that A.S. Council feels it is necessary to give away school-related items designed to get students to come out and meet their elected officers. Only at UCSD would it take free blue books and schedules of classes to get people to care — which they still really don’t. Though we understand the A.S. Council’s motives, the Guardian feels there are better uses for the money spent on these programs. Blue books cost about a quarter apiece, which is not a lot of money out of one’s wallet. When that number is multiplied by a few thousand, the figures begin to add up. In aggregate, the giveaways cost UCSD students $5,000 each year. Receiving anything for free is nice, but it is not worth wasting A.S. money. This giveaway is also a waste of money because the A.S. Council should be trying to wean people away from the schedules of classes, not encouraging their sales. The schedule of classes is available online so that students will not have to spend money or waste paper by buying a book. This promotion only encourages the use of printed matter and demonstrates to the student body that the use of this item is encouraged. The Guardian feels there are better things to give away that would promote more unity among students and the school’s elected leaders. Barbecues like the ones that currently exist are a great expenditure of this allocated money. They promote a way to foster better communication between the students and the school’s leaders. The A.S. Council should focus more on events such as these. Unlike mindlessly passing out papers, barbecues are a lot of fun for all parties involved. Students getting handed little books in passing on Library Walk does not tell them anything about their A.S. representation. Students eating free food given to them by members of the A.S. Council are about as open as possible to socialize with their representatives. There are other beneficial ways to spend this money. For example, even an additional $3,000 could increase what is offered at festivals like Sun God and Fallfest. More specifically, more daytime activities could be planned for these events as they give each student equal opportunity to have fun. With the current giveaways, only a select few actually benefit. In addition, this money could also fund more “”Nooners”” and “”TGIFs”” during the week. The attendance at this year’s events shows that students like attending the shows. By increasing the number of these events on campus, more students would be able to see free entertainment. This would also be the best way to get many students to see and meet the A.S. Council. By having councilmembers say a few words before each show, students would be given the chance to actually see who they are and what they do in office. Once again, everyone benefits. ...

China's Government Vilifies America in International Crisis

I can’t help being anything but appalled by the outrageous spectacle China has orchestrated over the past two weeks. It is absolutely despicable. After one of its fighters slammed into an American surveillance plane, the country had the audacity to hold all 24 crew members hostage and dismantle U.S. military property, refusing to allow anyone to return home unless the United States offered some kind of an apology and claim responsibility for the incident. I’m sorry, but that is just plain sickening. First of all, China’s pilot was blatantly at fault in this collision, which occurred 80 miles off the coast of China, well within international airspace. Second, the U.S.’s surveillance plane, an EP-3, is the size of a Boeing-737, much slower and less maneuverable than the smaller F-8 fighters the Chinese pilot was flying. They’re trying to tell us that this bulky, awkward barge with wings veered into their fast, agile fighter? Not in a million years, especially now that the Pentagon has disclosed that the plane was set on auto pilot. Furthermore, Chinese pilots have been recorded engaging in such reckless behavior during reconnaissance flights since the Clinton administration. There have even been reports of crew members seeing the other pilots’ faces as their fighters have closed to within 30 feet of the spy planes. The arrested American soldiers reportedly told Brigadier General Neal Sealock that the flanking fighter had been flying recklessly and erratically before the collision. Anyone who knows anything about aircraft knows who caused this collision. One hint: It wasn’t the spy plane. But you may be wondering why the United States won’t offer a full apology even if it wasn’t our fault, simply to prevent this from becoming an international incident. Unfortunately, this already is an international incident. China milked it for all it’s worth. The missing Chinese pilot’s parents have been interviewed on Chinese television, vilifying the big, bad Americans. The missing pilot’s wife publicly called President Bush a coward. Fellow communists in Vietnam are stepping up to the plate for the Chinese. Their president Jiang Zemin has gone worldwide with his very selective version of the truth, and with several lies to boot. The Chinese have refused American military assistance in searching for the missing pilot; we big, bad Americans have done enough harm already. The surviving pilot, decked out in full uniform, tried not to look reporters in the eye as he claimed the hulking American plane veered sharply into his helpless, innocent comrade. Too bad the Oscars were handed out last month; he would’ve been a ringer. In case you’re having trouble reading between the lines, this isn’t about a collision. This is about politics; this is Beijing trying to bully its way to a diplomatic victory over a new, unsympathetic White House administration. We all know about Slick Willy’s involvement with the communist Chinese government; they allegedly funded his presidential campaign, and his administration allegedly sold them our most classified nuclear weapons technology and taught them how to use it. Bush, on the other hand, has changed our relationship with China from strategic ally to competitor. It should therefore be no surprise that Beijing wants to secure a diplomatic victory as soon as possible. China made it clear that there would be no compromise through its hard-line, “”our way or the highway”” negotiations, maintaining until recently, that if we didn’t offer a full apology our soldiers and aircraft were not coming home. The White House has been painfully diplomatic here, offering everything short of an apology. Bush has handled himself reasonably well thus far in his first foreign conflict. He came to the table to compromise; they sought to conquer. After two weeks of speaking to a crimson wall, it is inevitable that our president will take a harder stance in kind. He has several options, after all. He can authorize the selling of arms to Taiwan, which China considers a renegade providence. The U.S. Navy just released a list of possible ways for us to improve Taiwan’s military. After all, the purpose of the ongoing reconnaissance flights is to ensure that China is not preparing to invade Taiwan. Also, the United States has a very large say in China’s foreign trade. Secretary of State Colin Powell has warned that this incident may impact American support for China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, which could be ruinous. Looking back at the Soviet Union, we all know that communist nations face uphill economic battles, so they need every ounce of leverage they can obtain. In light of all this anti-American propaganda being spread worldwide, we have to stand up for what’s right. The biggest problem with the Clinton administration was its encouragement of apathy over fortitude. As long as the economy went well, the majority could remain blissfully unaware that America was no longer the pillar of strength protecting the free world, but rather NATO’s puppet, which somehow cast a blind third eye upon the drastic military buildup in China. War is a terrible thing, and it is caused just as easily by pacifism as it is by aggression. I’m not worried about this incident erupting into World War III, but how well can we sleep at night knowing that we are at odds with a nation that outnumbers us by a billion and possesses all of our nuclear secrets, the brains to incorporate them, the labor to build them and possibly even the audacity to use them? Given China’s morbid human rights record and communist regime, it would be foolish to simply dismiss such a notion. Whether you wish to accept it, our nations are in competition. Our president says so, as does China’s communist hierarchy, if not through words, then certainly through actions. From this perspective, it’s tough to blame Republican leaders for scrambling to build a missile defense. But then again, I’ve always classified Democrats as idealists and Republicans as realists. Bush’s first diplomatic challenge is a difficult one, without a doubt, almost unfair for a rookie. But the ball’s in his court; the world is judging his diplomacy, because it was such a question mark during his campaign. I am confident in his skills as a diplomat and a leader, especially in light of his highly experienced cabinet. Politics aside though, I hope he succeeds because this may, for better or worse, have a significant impact on our relations with China. ...

Student Advocacy Commissioner

The commissioner of student advocacy is responsible for informing students of their rights and advising and representing students when conflicts arise between students and the university. He also acts as the A.S Council’s liaison to the Office of Student Policies and Judicial Affiars. The two candidates for the postion are Kyle Biebesheimer and Omid Sabet. Becasue one of the candidates is a writer for the Guardian, we decided not to endorese either candidate because it would present a conflict of interest. Please refer to the sample ballot for more candidate information. ...

Academic Affairs Commissioner

For commissioner of academic affairs, the Guardian endorses One candidate Lance Feller. Feller boasts an impressive resume, which includes on-campus experience such as serving as a representative to the undergraduate admissions committee. He has far-reaching knowledge of UCSD admissions, and of the campus in general, due to his extensive involvement. Feller has worked for the past two quarters with Commissioner of Academic Affairs Lana Kredie and therefore knows the office well. While he said he approves of the job she did, he would be more strict in making appointments to committees and hold his appointees more accountable for their performance. Feller also understands the problem of campus overcrowding and said he will push for new lecture halls. He does not support the proposed 10-minute passing period because it will result in people arriving late to classes. As a temporary solution to overcrowding, he proposes extended class hours as the lesser of evils. Feller said that if elected, he will fight for guaranteed on-campus housing for all freshman, sophomore, transfer and international students — something that will improve student life on this campus. Feller’s opponent, Unity candidate Jennifer DeCamp, does not have as much experience as Feller. She is proposing a dead day on Monday of finals week, something we cannot support because it will result in more students having exams on Saturday. We therefore endorse Feller for commissioner of academic affairs based on his experience and knowledge of campus issues. ...

Communications Commissioner

For the first time in several years, the office of commissioner of communications actually has qualified, enthusiastic candidates running for the position. This year, the candidates are One candidate Joe Bacich and Unity Candidate Catherine Algeri, and although both would excel at this position, Bacich has the edge. Both candidates recognize that student media has been largely ignored at UCSD, and that work must be done to increase its funding and to increase circulation among students. Both have good ideas about how to achieve such goals. Each candidate has good people skills and is excited and enthusiastic about the position. The main goal for both candidates is increased funding for student media. Bacich, however, has more concrete ideas concerning how to accomplish this. First, he wants to meet with each group and come up with a reasonable budget. He will then see how much of the proposed money he can get from the A.S. Council and work with the group to come up with the rest, which will mostly come from advertising. Advertising will come in the form of spot ads in the publications, as well as videos to be aired on SRTV. He has experience dealing with both. In addition, he says he will start a marketing committee to aid the media organizations in getting advertisements from businesses in the community. Bacich has extensive experience at KSDT and SRTV (he is currently the publicity director there) and is well versed in making video advertisements to air on SRTV. He also knows HTML and can aid student media organizations by helping them create Web sites. Algeri is also well qualified, having been the editor of “”Temper,”” a UCSD student publication. Although she stresses increased funding, her ideas are a little less concrete than those of Bacich. She does have experience putting on events at a low cost, which would be beneficial in getting publications more known. Bacich, however, has a lot of experience with different kinds of media and with getting advertisements to increase funding. While both candidates are qualified, we think that Bacich can do a better job. ...

Vice President Finance

The Guardian enthusiastically endorses Sam Shooshtary, a member of the Unity slate, and the sole candidate for vice president finance. Shooshtary ran for the same position last year, and while he may have been qualified based on extensive experience at Grossmont College, he lacked his opponent’s UCSD experience. Throughout the past year, however, he has gained a lot of experience sitting on A.S. Council as Vice President Internal Jeff Dodge’s assistant. Additionally, Shooshtary is active in over a dozen clubs on campus, giving him a firsthand perspective of the trials and tribulations student organizations experience. Before coming to here, Shooshtary held the office of comptroller, Grossmont’s equivalent of our vice president finance. Shooshtary says that because of his experience, he is not intimidated by the administration big wigs, and that he will be tough in negotiations with them when getting down to brass tacks on funding. He has several concrete measures that aim to bring more fairness and equity to the funding of student organizations. For one, he plans to extend the timetable of the allocation process for student organizations to one week, to allow for a more thorough examination and consideration of the needs of individual organizations with respect to available funds. Currently, that process is squeezed into two days, which puts the council under a burdensome time restraint, forcing it to allocate funds in an assembly line-like fashion. To better serve A.S. funded student organizations, Shooshtary would send senators to club meetings, and have them submit regular reports to keep the A.S. Council abreast of the use of A.S. funds and of any difficulties the organizations are experiencing. In particular, Shooshtary believes Student Affirmative Action Coalition organizations and the cultural clubs on campus are underfunded, and he would like to see more funding go their way. Shooshtary takes issue with the fact that the Committee for World Democracy is given special treatment when it comes to funding, something he finds illegal according to A.S. Council funding regulations. He would push to have the organization recognized as a normal student organization, as opposed to continuing to automatically allocate its funding in the A.S. budget before the rest of the student organization allocations are even considered. When it comes to funding controversial events such as last quarter’s Anti-Zionism week, Shooshtary is in favor of maintaining the current policy of granting A.S. funds without considering content. He said that he believes this is the best way to avoid infringing on free speech and to promote discussion, and ultimately, education. In contrast with fellow Unity slate member Jeff Dodge, who is running for A.S. president, Shooshtary leans toward funneling unallocated and unused funds to the programming office. We at the Guardian are confident that Shooshtary is more than capable of carrying out the duties of the office of vice president finance, and fully believe he will perform to the best of his abilities. ...

Vice President External

The Guardian endorses Dylan Nicole de Kervor for the position of vice president external. De Kervor, who is running on the Unity slate, has experience in the office and currently serves as the national affairs director for the A.S. external office. To the outside community, the vice president external is the most high-profile of the three vice presidents on the A.S. Council. The vice president external has the responsibility of being the students’ liaison to San Diego and the community surrounding UCSD, as well as to other universities. The vice president external is also UCSD’s chief representative to statewide and national student associations. In terms of her current position within the A.S. Council, de Kervor is similar to her opponent, Ernesto Martinez, who is the statewide affairs director for the A.S. external office. However, de Kervor seems to have been exceptionally active in a broad base of the external affairs office’s agenda. As national affairs director for the past year, de Kervor has worked with both the University of California Student Association and the United States Student Association to coordinate lobby visits with state and local representatives. De Kervor was UCSD’s delegation leader at the 2001 USSA Legislative Conference in Washington, was active in the coordination of the UCSA’s Focus Attention on Retention campaign and served as chair of the logistics committee for the UCSA’s 12th Annual Students of Color Conference. De Kervor’s view of the external affairs office as much more than a platform for outreach to underrepresented students is certainly a prudent one. As illustrated by her activity with the Focus Attention on Retention campaign and her work for the Students of Color Conference, she is greatly concerned with the lack of diversity at UCSD, and in the UC system in general. She has other goals for the office, such as improving and increasing the scale of the external office’s voter registration drive, which she believes could be much more organized and effective than it was last year. If elected, she also plans to improve relations between the external office and student-run businesses such as Groundwork Books, the Co-op, the General Store and the Che Cafe. De Kervor plans to increase student involvement and awareness by teaming up with the A.S. programming office to expose students at A.S. Council-sponsored social and educational events to issues that the A.S. external affairs office is facing. She said she believes this will help inform more students of how they can get involved with the council. Both candidates have reasonable proposals for and relevant experience with the lack of diversity at UCSD. Martinez and de Kervor say they want to increase and expand outreach and retention programs. Specifically, de Kervor would seek to collaborate with the A.S. internal office on the A.S. Outreach Program. She also would focus high school outreach visits to those schools that already have Uplift and GEAR UP programs. De Kervor would continue to lobby the state legislature to increase budget allotments for retention programs. She also said she would fight to increase funding to existing retention programs such as O.A.S.I.S., A.S. Lecture Notes and the Academic Success Program. With her extensive experience and high level of activity in her current position, it is the opinion of the Guardian that de Kervor is a high-quality candidate and the best choice for the next A.S. vice president external. ...