Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Brad Vogel: A Voice for Reform Should be Praised

Though I have just gotten to know Brad through my short stint on Student Service Finance Committee (SSFC), I know his presence will be missed on the board and his legacy in fighting for students and reform in ASM will carry on. Being involved with ASM since his freshman year, he has been strong voice for conservative and apathetic students pressing for an objective student council and student judiciary while insisting on financial responsibility within SSFC. Quick highlights of his ASM career include his controversial removal/resignation from the Student Judiciary (September 2004), his fight to cut fat on the ASM budget (January 2005), and then his $1,000 salary cap proposals (April 2005). Even though many of his proposals failed within the confines of traditionally liberal Associated Students of Madison and Student Service Finance Committee, he continually fought for what he deemed right and voiced his concerns amongst extreme opposition. Leaving as a seasoned and clearly pained veteran, I and many others salute you for putting the students first and being an honest, kind, and important member of SSFC and ASM. Your actions speak louder than words.

While he went out with a short, hard hitting, emotional speech last night at the Memorial Union, personally I feel like he could have went out with a bigger bang had he answered questions. Answering questions would have in my opinion led to good discussion fiscal discipline within SSFC and the merits of his ideology.

Here are a few of words from his speech:

“Additionally, I feel a bit more confident of … the composition of the committee,” he said. “I think there are several members who are willing to stand up on a fiscally responsible position for students.”

In a prepared farewell address to the committee, Vogel said SSFC’s concept of viewpoint neutrality is a “sham.”

“Intended on paper to protect the free speech of student organizations, the system, in reality, stifles the free speech of every UW-Madison student,” Vogel said. “Elected representatives are prevented from speaking freely on behalf of constituents to make fiscal decisions.”

Vogel followed with more critical remarks.

“The current [segregated] fee system is little more than an elaborate dance around the core issues,” he said. “It’s also a poor lesson in government for future leaders.”

Feel free to check his blog (Letters in Bottles off the Local Political Escapes link) where Steve and Brad write about various topics including international politics, political economy, local Wisconsin politics/events, etc.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Mendota Beacon Article with further analysis

Here is my article from the latest Mendota Beacon (http://www.mendotabeacon.com). It is fairly similar to the previous posting “Who will I Serve? The Students” but it has been altered and edited. I wrote the op-ed because of a request from the staff. The following article also has the comments from the website (2 by possible someone on our committee and one by me in response the first posting). I will then address the second comment and will make further remarks.

SEG Fees On the Rise

A need to serve the students with fiscal responsibility

by Tim Schulz

September 13, 2005

In the middle of your first calculus problem set, it suddenly hits you. The University of Wisconsin fall semester has begun. But classes and homework are not the only things that have started. Associated Students of Madison (ASM), “your student government,” has also begun doling out part of your tuition.

As you begin to scavenge for money to pay your tuition bill, realize that $331 or nearly 10% of your mandatory payment to UW-Madison goes toward Student Segregated Fees (SEG fees) each semester. At $662 a year, SEG fees have increased even faster than the normal part of tuition (8.9% versus 6.9%). While the average UW Joe may not be a part of any student organizations or his/her student organizations may not get any SEG fee funds, SEG fees are not optional due to the 1999 Supreme Court decision Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System vs. Southworth. Students’ real power, then, is to elect Student Service Finance Committee members and ASM representatives that share their financial and political views.

Essentially, the goal for SSFC is to allocate student fee portion of tuition in a fiscally responsible manner to groups that meet certain standards. Yet, the committee is fairly divided in terms of what this means. For certain members of the group, SSFC is a committee to help and support organizations in promoting social justice and educational issues on campus. For other members, SSFC is a committee where finite student tuition money needs to be used efficiently and accountably to serve not only the major student organizations but the entire student body.

Within ASM, the Student Services Finance Committee allocates about $100 of each student’s fees, while Finance Committee allocates a much smaller portion. Last week, SSFC began hearings on eligibility for what will probably be 20 to 25 student services groups receiving funding this upcoming fiscal year. Total funding may approach 3.5 million dollars.

The beneficiaries of SSFC funds include diversity (Multicultural Student Coalition, MECha), women (PAVE, Campus Women’s Center), and other educational groups such as Greater University Tutorial Services (GUTS) and Legal Information Center. Last year SSFC went over budget considerably, helping lead to the increase in SEG fees. You would think that ASM student representatives and appointees on SSFC would try to control spending in a responsible manner in the hopes of curbing tuition increases. Recent history and the current composition of the committee make this hope dubious.

Clear financial ideological differences exist between committee members. While I will stand tall in serving the students and their interests with fiscal prudence and efficiency, attitudes and conversation amongst committee members indicates others will not.

As an SSFC member I can promise you that:

1. Elected by the students last spring, my main priority is to serve their interests rather than specific groups. Observe the name: “Student Service Finance Committee”.

2. In my view, this money is not anybody else’s money but the students’. This money has not been entrusted to a handful of groups to allocate amongst themselves. Neither should it be entrusted to SSFC Committee Members who are members of these groups or are beholden to the interests of these groups.

3. My job is not to meet with organizations and tell them how to use their money. My job rather is to look at their budget and make changes and cuts so tuition money is used wisely and effectively.

Feel free to contact any SSFC members with questions or concerns. Also voice your opinion for responsible SEG fee allocation by speaking at open forum during meetings on Monday and Thursday 6:30 Memorial Union TITU.

--Tim Schulz, Elected SSFC Member

Tim, its pretty obvious to us all what your true intentions on SSFC are, which is defund groups that don't share your political ideologies. You may try to cover that up by calling yourself a libertarian but we see through it. Its no wonder why the only 4 people to vote against the LGBTCC were the 4 most conservative members of the committee. Yet I bet that when groups like CFACT come to you with their budgets you and the other conservative members will no doubt take less scrunity then you do with other organizations. The simple truth of the matter is that groups like CFACT offer nothing for this campus in terms of services they provide, Just take a look at their end of the year reports from the last few years they will tell you themselves that they do no do nothing compared to the amount of services other groups provide, yet they are continued to be funded because of conservative people like you. If you really want to save students money then you will not offer groups that do nothing to provide for students on campus and use VPN when allocating funds to the other organizations that you dont support in your own views but who actually provide tangable services to the UW community.

We see through you

The reason I voted against LBGTCC was not because I disagree with their views or ideology. Their application clearly states at many points that the center is for "LBGT students and their allies". This statement in my view is breaking criteria #3 of the 13 criteria. My main objection to both LBGTCC, the Women's Center, etc. is that their central purposes are to provide a so called "safe zone" for students on campus. These so called "safe zones" are unnecessary and a misuse of our tuition money Why do people need to hide their views and their real self….especially at the expense of students’ money? Aren't students at University of Madison supposed to be open and tolerant, sifting and winnowing to find the truth. No persecuted group whether it be gender, racial, sexual, or religious needs to have a "safe zone" at the expense of the students.
When I wrote an op-ed last spring I was accused of being a tool for C-FACT. I will be as objective as I am with any other organization that asks us for money. In fact, my environmental ideology even does clash with C-FACT's. So do not make me out to being a pawn of this conservative group.
I do support groups that actually provide tangable services to the UW community. This is why I feel these central groups like LBGTCC and Women's Center should be funded less while groups like 10% Society and PAVE deserve a larger share of funding (even though I know that 10% Society is not even a GSSF group).
My central objective is to hold these groups accountable and make sure that we do not go over budget for this year.

Tim Schulz

I understand where you may be coming from, having a problem with the LGBTCC stating that their services are open to LGBT students and their allies, but if what you are saying is true about Madison being a tolerent, open campus where people don't have to face discrimination is true then infact everyone would be considered an Ally right? but the fact is that no matter how open we see this campus to be, LGBT students are still subject to discrimination. But really thats besides the point. The point is that when considering whether or not you think that safe zones are necassary you are taking into account the View Point of the organization, which in doing so you are violating VPN. And my advice being to watch what you say at the table so as to not get caught and have it called on you again this Thursday when debating the CWC eligibility. People will be watching and there are plenty of people that would like to see you removed from council, but that would be a tragedy to us because the girls in the room need some eye candy.

We see through you

I want to first address the following comment:

if what you are saying is true about Madison being a tolerent, open campus where people don't have to face discrimination is true then infact everyone would be considered an ally right?”

I do not understand how tolerance of a certain group or opinion is synonymous with being allied with this group or opinion? The definition of tolerance on dictionary.com reads :

“The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.”

The definition of ally according to dictionary.com is either

To place in a friendly association, as by treaty” or “To unite or connect in a personal relationship”.

While I believe people in Madison will truly listen and respect that specific groups have different views and lifestyles from them, they often will not affiliate themselves, associate themselves or stand for the beliefs of these groups. This is fine. Would you expect NARAL activist to associate themselves with the Life Society in protesting Planned Parenthood? Would you expect the International Socialist Organization to affiliate themselves with the College Republicans? Obviously not. But we should expect tolerance and openness even in disagreement.

Second, I am accused of violating VPN for disagreeing with funding “safe zones” or unnecessary campus centers. How is this a violation of VPN? I clearly have nothing against the particular views of any specific organizations but rather find funding organizations that’s main purpose for existing is to provide a social area. Providing social outlets and entertainment events should not be what our student government and student’s money are about. Our financial resources should be about providing educational channels through which students will continue to challenge their belief systems and advance their knowledge outside the classroom. We also need to fund resources that are critical but are not easily funded privately (legal information center, rape crisis center, etc.). Many people on our committee though feel that our money is best spent on social justice activities, entertainment activities, and student salaries. I do not. I will clearly be viewpoint neutral but ultimately on funding decisions value judgments are inevitable.

Third, I want to address the following statement:

Tim, its pretty obvious to us all what your true intentions on SSFC are, which is defund groups that don't share your political ideologies. You may try to cover that up by calling yourself a libertarian but we see through it.

Attacking my political beliefs was the first mode of discrediting me and my article. If I was true libertarian, I would clearly believe that Associated of Students of Madison was unnecessary and that students instead of paying SEG fees should fund their own health care (through UHS), recreation (UW Rec Sports), and every other group they are in. Libertarianism believes that government’s role is only to provide vital public goods (road/utilities, national defense, tort system, etc) and even education should be privatized. Now I am obviously not that extreme and believe that the student body collectively helping to foot the bill for some student groups on campus is in the interest of students. Defining libertarianism aside, I am going to look at your criticism from 2 possibly different lenses. The first possible lense is that I am lying by listing myself as libertarian on Facebook and that I believe in all Republican causes along with being a part of the right wing conspiracy. I reject this notion because there are many ideological differences that separate me from the Republican Party as a whole (stem cell research, death penalty, big government spending (ie Bush), hawkish military policy, civil unions, etc.). I do not need to list anymore issues. The second possible lense is that I am not truly libertarian since I voted against LBGTCC. This would imply that I am against the LBGT movement and that I do not like homosexuals or their allies. This notion is also false because I do believe in equal rights for gays through civil unions and am not a homophobic bigot. What I disagree with is funding organizations that are based on safe zones and a social meeting place.

World Economy from an 8th Grader

This weekend I got the privilege to spend Saturday with my family out on a series of lakes near Waupaca, Wisconsin. Small talk mixed with the occasional deeper conversation, my little brother Dave and I got to shoot the breeze and he brought to the table a series of quick comments that shocked his economically infatuated brother.

His first comment was in response to a conversation me and my uncle were having about his business overseas in China. Dave, an 8th grader said,” I know a lot of other people don’t like that we get a lot of our products from China but I do because we get cheap stuff.” While not being introduced to the ideas of comparative advantage or any real economic theory yet, he does at least see how the world economy operates with production moving to lower cost labor markets. He is enthused by the fact that he can go and get a decent stereo at the nearest Wal Mart for $40 or a new 19” television from Sears for $120. The fact is that most people in consumer driven America are happy that we have low prices. They are excited that with advances in transportation, logistics, and international business that companies like Wal Mart, Best Buy, Target, Home Depot and others can deliver products at cheaper real rates than ever. While liberal critics demand tougher environmental laws, more stringent labor regulation, criticize big-box store business, and critique lower and middle class America for being selfish and unsophisticated, they fail to see how the world economy and hypercapitalism has helped in bringing prosperity to the everyday American by keeping prices low and fighting inflation. While much of the liberal commentary is valid to some degree, they do not acknowledge the benefits of overseas labor, big box stores, and the innovation of business.

His second comment was “I think it is interesting that most of our factories are moving overseas”. He did not say this with a negative or positive tone but with an unopinionated voice. Now the real fact is that we still do have a large manufacturing base in this country. A large section has been moving overseas since the 1970’s and the percentage of the US population employed in the sector is much smaller than it historically was during the middle of the 20th century. In late 1960’s the percentage was around 35% but as of 2003 the percentage was hovering around 20%. We will always have a manufacturing base in this country but economy's future is not in tangible production. Its future is in the new information economy whether that be research, creation, or facilitation of knowledge. My little brother knows this is the way our economy is headed as I do too. Yet, many people in America especially the uneducated and various liberals live for the Keynesian Welfare manufacturing state when incomes were more equal, the father worked in the factory (40 hours a week) and production was stable over time. They fear that with the need for more education in the information age, many uneducated people will be left behind and our society will continue to weaken. Their answers are often more manufacturing jobs, increased unionization, more trade restrictions, high taxes, adding social programs etc., where my answers are making education affordable, providing job training programs, and continuing neoliberal policies which spur growth (low taxes, free trade agreements, open immigration, less regulation, etc). I think if my brother understood in full these economic concepts he would agree with me. Drawing from his statements, he at least has a head start in fully understanding the world and its business structure than all the economically illiterate students of Madison.

Monday, September 12, 2005

See Your Funds Go to Unnecessary Organizations

A night of promise ended in a night filled with reality…. I thought that we might have an actual chance to make some noise and bring real debate on the need for the LBGT Center. We got cut off early and were unable to really change anyone's opinion. I voted against their eligibility based on clear language in the application that the center is for "LBGT students and their allies". The reasoning had merit but I obviously see how others looked past it. I do not really care that much that they got eligibility but my main issue is providing student funds for “safe centers”. I have huge issues with this and I will continue to stand against the idea and funding of these places.

The clear view amongst the committee is that the LBGT community, female community or any other minority group of gender, sexuality, religious, or diversity needs a “safe zone” of their own supplied to them by student’s tuition. Give me a break. Our tuition money should be spent on essential student services rather on providing a special place for groups to get together for community, discussion, etc. My main question is why the LBGT community or any other group can’t meet at the Ratskeller, College Library, Union South or any other public rentable room on campus. I believe that University of Wisconsin-Madison is a place of tolerance, openness, and respect. Why do people need to hide their views and their real self….especially at the expense of students’ money? I will have to vote “yes” I am expecting of the Women’s Center but I will continue to make my point against “safe centers”. I can not live with myself openly funding this junk but I guess I have no choice.

Anyway, here are my political results on some random quiz I took online probably a few months ago. Where am I the most conservative….you guessed it….fiscal issues. I guess I can’t help being a stingy bastard on SSFC. I will continue to be..no doubt. I believe in spending money where it is most efficient and important and many of these extra activities obviously are of little real significance. Why do we really have to cut classes and lose good professors because we can’t pay them? One of the reasons is because we can’t control SEG fees…sad!!!

Your Political Profile

Overall: 70% Conservative, 30% Liberal

Social Issues: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Ethics: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Southern Comfort Fiend

Substitutes can be found for nearly all our thirst quenching needs. Whether it be Pepsi and Coke, Beast and Natty, Rockstar and Red Bull, Powerade and Gatorade, Tropicana and Florida’s Orange Juice, distinct beverage purchasing decisions are often made by comparing prices on very similar drinks. But there clearly is no substitute for one finely made bourbon that satisfies with its natural cough syrupy taste. Its name is Southern Comfort.

Developed by M.W. Heron in 1874, the drink has stayed true to its recipe for now longer than 125 years. With its origins in New Orleans, I can safely say that not only is a southern appetite in my blood (grits, fried chicken, black-eyed peas, jambalaya), a Dixie thirst runs through me also. Other notable events in its history also include a gold medal at the St Louis World’s Fair in 1904 and personal endorsement of rock star Janis Joplin in 1967. With such significant expert and celebrity accolades, how could I not want to put down glasses of this tasteful yet soothing intoxicant?

While I can say that I enjoy the black label Southern Comfort 100 proof as much as the traditional white label 70 proof, processing straight 100 proof rocks the liver of this 180 pound German light weight. This is why I often choose the standard bottle as it is often cheaper also. Plus why would I substitute drinking a smaller glass when I could satisfy my taste buds for a longer duration. Choose the white label if you are in the Ben Regner or Mike Foster weight classes but I strong suggest the black label if you are of Reuben or Empey status.

There is one way and only one way to drink Southern Comfort and that is on the rocks. If you mix this cherished substance with another lesser swallow, flavor, jolt, and dignity will be diminished to the nth degree. Let’s face it, mixers are for wankstas, bitches…period. Go ahead and try dabbling Southern Comfort with coke, cranberry juice, or tonic water. You have been warned and I accept no liability.

There is no other alcohol you can sit around and sip like Southern Comfort and my allegiance will hold till the day of my death bed. My 1.75 may sit around my cabinet for a month or two but every week or two at least a small glass needs to flow down my throat. I don’t know how every can get off drinking the same lame Jack, Bacardi, and Smirnoff when there’s just nothing like a little southern bourbon. Try to substitute Southern Comfort and die.