Chastisements

Polemicist hereby chastises...

"If, when a man has fallen into habits of idleness, of daydreaming, and of sloth, putting off his most important duties continually til the morrow, another man were to awaken him one fine morning with the heavy blows of a whip, and were to whip him unmercifully, until he who was unable to work for pleasure now worked for fear - would not that man, the chastiser, indeed be his benefactor and truest friend?"

-Charles Baudelaire
 Intimate Journals

 

February 1992; page 2; Volume 3, No. 3
Polemicist

Bill Tiede
Momma's Boy

We're thankful that SA President Garth Davis has stopped lobbying the legislature on the tuition question, but he must stop appointing apologists as his surrogates. On Feb. 7, Bill Tiede, SA Rep. at Large, announced to the House Committee on Higher Education's Subcommittee on Tuition and Fees that he drove a 1980 Oldsmobile - presumably as a way to distinguish himself from Garth, who in the past has expressed liberal guilt for driving a BMW. Polemicist believes this matter of automobiles helped Garth select Tiede to speak for students on this important occasion. Or maybe Garth's BMW was in the shop.

In any case, on the issue of tuition increases, Tiede argued - like Hans Mark and other UT bureaucrats before him - that students should pay more for their education to help them truly appreciate its value. Prompted by conservative House member Bob Hunter, Tiede replied obediently that students should pay 25 percent of the cost of their college education, compared to the current level of 11-13 percent. But when asked by members of the committee if he paid his own tuition at UT, he confessed that his parents pay everything.

Our advocate clung dearly to his rationale for tuition hikes, even as a key legislator, Paul Moreno, Chair of the Subcommittee, declared that he supports free higher education. Tiede said we should support tuition increases in order to distribute the education burden more fairly among Texas taxpayers. Perhaps sheepish about his parents' largesse, he then called for lower property taxes, and no income tax, since, he complained, his parents pay too much money in property taxes already.

On the issue of fees, Tiede told the committee that students democratically vote for all of the fees they pay in addition to tuition. Did Tiede himself vote for any or most of the fees on his own fee-bill? Did he even open the bill before forwarding it to his parents?

Tiede complained bitterly about the price of textbooks, although he confided to the committee that his parents pay for these as well. Paul Moreno asked him whether he thought text books should be provided free to students and he said, no, that students should pay for this too. Perhaps higher textbook prices would further enhance every student's appreciation of the value of a textbook.

The main problem with financial aid, according to Tiede, is understaffing and long lines. In particular, he identified the financial aid office's location in an old Italian restaurant as a big problem. This has now been solved by the new financial aid building. Tiede says students no longer complain about the availability of financial aid, despite shrinking funds. Not until his parents' milkteat dries will he understand the full profanity of that idea.

Matthew Connally, Brandon Powell
Texan Apologists

After Matthew Connally gave The Daily Texan a "swift kick to the right," as he promised in his campaign for editor last spring, chastising the Texan became a bore. Both the news and editorial departments became so uniformly egregious and contentless that constantly rebuking them seemed both tiring and futile. It took a bit of ill-informed editorial pabulum such as "Rusty Cog: Grad union is yesterday's solution," (TDT 1-30-92, p. 4) to overcome our jadedness and raise our ire enough to lash The Daily Apologist once again.

In that article, Connally and his associate editor Brandon Powell attack Council of Graduate Students President Chip Cariappa for approaching the Communication Workers of America to discuss forming a union for graduate students and UT staff. Pointing out that Texas is a "right-to-work" state (or more accurately: a right-to-work-for-less state), and that collective bargaining is illegal here, these two champions of the working classes declare that forming a union amounts to "blowing the dust off musty pages of outdated liberal strategies." Instead of this option, they intone naively, graduate students "must utilize existing organizations better, so that specific needs of graduate students will be met" Someone should dust off their musty brains.

Cariappa wants to form a graduate student union precisely because past attempts to "utilize existing organizations" like COGS on labor questions have failed horribly. The Graduate Professional Association (GPA), an off-campus graduate student labor group, was formed several years ago by elected COGS members who resigned their posts after repeated stonewalling by UT on the question of health care. Ultimately by creating a new organization - which its founders perceived as a baby step toward unionization - outside of official channels, GPA members could address health care issues in a politicized way that COGS never could. The utter ineffectiveness of last year's COGS president, Victoria Moore, in addressing massive tuition hikes, clearly points to the need for a similar strategy.

Stunningly, Connally and Powell believe that the only effective union in Texas is the teachers' union. But thousands of government employees belong to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), almost all transportation workers in Texas are unionized, and even the Austin Police Department has a union. While Texas unions in the private sector are weak, unionization in the public sector is on the upswing, giving graduate students cause for hope. And Connally and Powell shouldn't worry that the "large and top-heavy" bureaucracy at the CWA might coerce the rank and file at UT. Since Texas is a right-to-work-for-less state, graduate students may choose whether or not to join any union.

Finally, declare Connally and Powell, the champions of student rights, graduate students must "stop complaining about tuition," and concede "the obvious point that the University [tuition] is a bargain," if they want to appear "sincere" in their negotiations with administrators and legislators. But an appendix attached to Cariappa's recent testimony to the legislature indicates that of 12 comparable graduate schools at state universities, the proposed UT tuition (including fees) would cost more than all but three.

Connally and Powell's editorial deserves scorn less for its vapidity and ill-informed patter, than for the condescending way it snubbed graduate student employees who are searching in good faith for solutions to longstanding labor grievances. This campus deserves better from its daily newspaper.

The Austin-American Statesman
Environmental Posers

The Statesman, in its effort to cash in on the environmental consciousness of Austinites, has begun a new public relations ploy that suggests its dedication to the recycling cause. At the top of each section of the paper, the Statesman now prints a small recycling logo, which under normal circumstances indicates that the product in question uses recycled paper. On the inside pages, however, in small print, the reader is told that "This section is recyclable." In other words, the paper can be recycled - just like any other product appearing on newsprint. Most readers we've talked to were deceived by this ruse.

This tactic becomes more offensive when one understands the basics of recycling economics. Daily newspapers use the vast majority of newsprint in this country, but no major daily uses recycled paper because it's too expensive. Thus a glut occurs, because without the dailies no market exists to justify newspaper recycling. Wheatsville Food Coop has stopped accepting newsprint for recycling, for exactly this reason. The failure of papers like the Statesman to implement recycling will ultimately spell the doom for millions of acres of U.S. and Third World forestland.

We need not adumbrate the Statesman's shameless record of boosting every environmentally hazardous, publicly subsidized real-estate and high-tech boondoggle that makes a buck for Roger Kintzel's friends at the Chamber of Commerce. Given this heinous trend, the Statesman should be lashed bitterly for exploiting the environmental concerns of Austinites to sell its daily dose of tripe and boosterism.