Pasternack’s Follies

I write to you in the hopes that I can send a message to the campus through your paper, with which I have had a rather ambivalent relationship over the past three years. I seek to bring a level of closure to the election of last spring, and to clear up some possible misunderstandings.
First, I lost the election for executive president of the Student Government Association (SGA) to Eric Pasternack in a fair and open democratic election. If such things were convention, I would have called his campaign congratulated him. As it were, I simply tried to smile and take refuge in what victories my campaign had achieved, which brings me to my next point.
I try to be forthright, so I will say that I thought I was the most qualified – in experience, qualities and personality – for the position I sought. I thought I was the best person at this school for it; I only decided to run after praying and thinking on the matter. I had a grand vision and was sickened by the prospect of a mediocre, forgettable year. However, it became apparent to me by the end of our battle for the executive board that the second best person for the job was Christine Cullen.
She deserved to win because – to paraphrase the famous words of President George W. Bush when asked why his vice presidential candidate was better than the others – Christine Cullen was ready to be president.
That said, I am appalled that Eric Pasternack cannot abide by the same system to which he has sworn an oath these past three years. Your paper’s editorial was right: in the face of a veritable budget crisis (a campaign issue for both sides), and after all other candidates conducted themselves dutifully and honorably, he has the effrontery to file suit, and to undermine the leadership of the rightful president to advance his own self-interest.
I had expected he would be upset – after all, he won the election and was denied the position. I even expected him to direct his hatred towards me, since he insisted that I made the anonymous police tip (believe what you want, I made no such call). I was prepared for his reaction against me – but I think Executive President Cullen has enough to worry about in assuming the vacant chief office, losing the most experienced members of SGA, and having to find her own vision after spending months under mine.
Eric, for the sake of our school and SGA, I urge you to reconsider your current course of action. I lost too. There is a whole world of other things to do besides fretting over the SGA presidency.

S. Lee Whitesell II

SHAME SHAME! Mr. Pasternack, have you no dignity? Your rights were not violated and the students on this campus (especially since only a handful voted for you relative to campus size) are not any worse off by you sitting on the sidelines. It was students who decided your fate, not campus administrators.

It was students who helped construct, continually modify and enforce the provisions within the Student Leadership Criteria. Having said that, I am not sure what you are talking about when you speak of unethical conduct of “select administrators” on this campus.

Let me make myself clear. Western societies have blurred the lines between ri ghts and privileges, and this is a clear example. Brother, you were extended the executive presidency of the SGA by the grace and mercy of the students on this campus.

Do yourself a favor and stand down. It is tragic that the court has even given you a forum, especially since the docket is overloaded with cases of great importance.

Paul A. Harris Jr.

Despite the fact that I think persecution for underage drinking is absolutely foolish, individuals must be held responsible for their own actions.

By breaking the law, Eric Pasternack essentially kissed his right to the presidency goodbye. By serving in SGA, he agreed to certain policies, and now that he broke them, the previously agreed upon consequences ensued.

What separates him from the people who sued McDonald’s for millions of dollars because they spilled coffee on themselves? I for one do not want an individual who is abusing our legal system to represent my school.

Anthony Vita

Minimum wage helps the economy

Without good jobs and rising wages, economic growth has become increasingly concentrated among corporations, shareholders and the top 20 percent or so of earners. The profits from increased productivity have accrued exclusively to those at the top of the pay scale.

In 1960 the average CEO made about 41 times that of the average factory worker. Today the average CEO makes over 400 times more than the average worker!

According to Lucas’ logic in his Aug. 30 article “Raising Minimum Wage Artificially is Damaging,” this pay discrepancy must mean that the CEOs are more productive since “wages are tied to productivity.” But reality shows otherwise. Look for example, at the case of former Tyco chief Dennis Kozlowski, who used some of the $600 million he defrauded from his company to buy a $6,000 shower curtain. Yet that is cheap in comparison to the other luxury items upon which the super-rich splurge. According to Forbes’ list of the World’s Most Expensive Household Items, there is also $40,000 wallpaper and a $250,000 television set.

While productivity has risen consistently since 1948, compensation for the average worker has fallen since the 1970s. This has been masked by the two-family income, longer hours and a borrowing binge. Working-class people are regularly forced to spend more than they earn.

The “official” unemployment rate of 4.9 percent amounts to little more than a statistical manipulation to hide a grim reality. If the figures covering the 10 million “discouraged” workers (with no jobs but who have exceeded unemployment insurance duration limits) are added to those who work part-time at best for short periods, the U.S. unemployment rate would be closer to 17 percent. Why are these people “discouraged?” Wouldn’t you be too if you worked day and night at a hard and unsatisfying job, getting no respect, for a mere $5.15 per hour?

Mr. Lucas contends there are other ways than minimum wage legislation to address working class poverty, such as “increasing the quality of education.”

The pursuit of knowledge goes beyond the bottom line. There is more to life than just making a buck. But, those paid the minimum wage need to work excessively long hours just to survive. They don’t have time to get an education!

In her book, Nickled and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich wrote how during her training to work at Wal-Mart she was taught about the crime of “time theft,” which is doing things other than working while on the clock. “What you don’t necessarily realize when you start selling your time by the hour is that you’re actually selling your life,” writes Ehrenreich.

Increasing the quality of education is pointless without also increasing wages, thus causing a reduction of working hours.

Rather than allow so-called economic “realists” to dismiss rational alternatives to our current system of wage slavery, we should demand they examine their own logic. Then they may see how it is as equally tainted by philosophical assumptions as those whom they criticize.

For instance, Mr. Lucas stigmatized minimum wage legislation as “artificial” because he believes that we should let the free market determine pre-tax income. But this assumes that the American economy is genuinely free market.

John Leschak

Basile ignores the roots of terror

The following letter is intended as a response in opposition to Shaina Basile’s highly ignorant, grossly misguided piece “Airport Security: Losing Sight of What’s at Stake” in the Aug. 30 edition of The Signal.

Not surprisingly, Basile has readily bought into the Orwellian rhetoric that Republicans and Democrats have used to justify both the repression of civil liberties at home and the undertaking of imperialistic misadventures in the Middle East and around the world.

With deep sincerity, she writes about “the terrorists,” as if “terrorism” was actually a monolithic threat.

She conveniently leaves aside the fact that terrorism is a mere tactic of asymmetrical warfare, however morally repellent it may be, and not at all a well-defined ideology promulgated by a centralized world organization.

Basile is obviously concerned about the “threat of terrorism” and preventing it from harming the United States.

Her advocacy of tight security measures is all well and fine, but she is truly myopic about the root causes of terrorism and how to nip these problems in the bud.

Her statement that we should “remember all the good and brave people who died that day (9/11) because of irrational, fundamentalist thinking” is sickly ironic.

She supports a president who says that God told him to order the invasion of Iraq, and now he has the blood of 100,000 civilians on his hands.

But in all its irony, this statement reveals a deep, disturbing truth: Basile is blind to the real reasons why people would want to attack the American state in the first place.

I can give a few reasons: uncritical support for Israel and its inhumane treatment of the Palestinians, the backing of corrupt Arab regimes like those of Saddam Hussein and the House of Saud, the stationing of military bases near some of Islam’s holiest sites (such as Mecca) and, lest we forget, the huge boost in morale that resulted from the CIA’s generous donation of weaponry and funds to Osama bin Laden during the 1980s. The list goes on and on.

Sept. 11, 2001 was terribly grotesque and bloody, and I would never wish such a tragedy on any nation, but its occurrence was really not a surprise considering the foolishness and violence of U.S. foreign policy.

If Shaina Basile was really concerned about the safety and well-being of civilians in America and around the world, as I deeply am, she should first recognize the sins of her own government.

Tom Stone