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Letters to the editor

September 19, 2003 | Page 4

OTHER LETTERS BELOW:
Missing from the D.C. march
Why are you against Clinton?
"Taking it out on workers' backs"
Correction and clarification

Hit hard by tuition hikes

Dear Socialist Worker:
While the Bush administration spends billions to brutally subjugate the people of Iraq, budgets across the country are under attack. The latest target: higher education.

At the University of Maryland in College Park, tuition has increased by 21 percent. This amounts to an increase from $14,434 to $17,433 for out-of-state students, and from $5,670 to $6,759 for in-state students. Meanwhile, 800 jobs have been eliminated across the state system and 400 more employees can expect to get laid off.

Gov. Bob Ehrlich listed education as one of the "five pillars" of his administration, but he is building on the backs of the working class families. They are the ones who will shoulder the load of higher tuition, and they are the ones who will fall by the wayside when the burden becomes too great. When Ehrlich says that education is a "pillar," he must mean it is a way of holding up the ruling class.

Maryland isn't even the worst of it. According to a recent Washington Post article, the University of Arizona's and the University of California's tuition rates have been raised 39 percent and 40 percent, respectively. A national survey found that tuition has been raised at all 37 of the states that responded to the survey.

With the rising cost of college, many look to financial aid to help them get an education. But according to the New York Times, cuts from the Pell Grant--the largest financial aid program in the nation--will likely keep 84,000 students from receiving any grant at all, not to mention the hundreds of thousands who will receive diminished aid. This means more students will have to take out loans, work extra hours at their jobs, or drop out of college altogether.

With many students home for the summer, student activist groups have been relatively quiet. However, AFSCME, the union representing University of Maryland campus workers, and the Student Government Association have already staged rallies in front of the campus administration building and at the state house in Annapolis--with more action planned as the school year approaches.

Momentum is steadily building, and it will only grow as students come back to campus to discover jobs disappearing, services diminishing, and their bills growing larger, but more workers and students need to get involved. Workers and students must come together again to build a movement capable of beating back a system that is pricing us out of higher education and cutting away our livelihood.

Nick Chin and Shane Dillingham, Washington, D.C.

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Missing from the D.C. march

Dear Socialist Worker:
August 23 was the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. Several "feeder marches" moved through Washington D.C., linking up for a main rally at the Lincoln Memorial.

After a few introductory speeches, Martin Luther King III came to the stage, calling for an end to the death penalty, an end to homophobia and an end to war. Damu Smith of Black Voices for Peace gave the most passionate speech of the day, saying: "We can't segregate our issues. We've got to connect all the dots. Those opposing us are united for their agenda. We've got to be united for our agenda." He related police and prison brutality in the U.S. to the brutality of the occupation of Iraq, and the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Eventually, Rep. John Lewis stepped forward. One of the organizers of the original 1963 march, Lewis stated: "If you do not believe today is a different day than 1963, come and walk in my shoes...We used our feet, and we put our bodies on the line. We got in the way! And you must get in the way!"

But Lewis left out his role as a Democrat, and his voting record regarding the war in Afghanistan and his support for Israel against the Palestinians. Lewis' calls to "get in the way" ignores what the Democratic Party, his party, did to those "in their way" during the civil rights era, in Chicago in 1968, or at protests against the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Seattle in 2000. Other speakers, including Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, said that this was the beginning of a campaign leading up to the election day--to elect those who gave us NAFTA and the WTO, who ended "welfare as we know it."

The rally had a small turnout of perhaps 4,000 people. The empty areas speak loudly, however, of those who could not attend. People like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X; Mumia Abu-Jamal and the millions of men and women trapped in correctional institutions, or dead of malnutrition or lack of health care; or the unarmed man shot down in the streets of D.C. by the police only days before the march.

Drew Poe, Washington, D.C.

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Why are you against Clinton?

Dear Socialist Worker:
I recently had an interesting conversation with one of your very pleasant members handing out flyers at the Balboa Park BART station in San Francisco. I must disagree with your organization's stand on Bill Clinton, who is one of my favorite people of all time.

I do not have the time to list all of my arguments for Clinton, but it is my belief that he did an absolutely amazing job considering that he was being torn apart by both the left and right wing, and raked through an impeachment. His intelligence, focus, knowledge of world issues and true compassion are unrivaled among most presidents.

The economy, race relations, education, crime rates--all of these issues were much better under President Clinton. I strongly did not agree with the assertion by your member that there is no difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. The differences have rarely been so profound as they are today!

Neither party is perfect by any means, but there is no question in my mind that we would be better off under Al Gore's leadership than Bush's. At least there would be no dirty, illegal wars and tax cuts for the wealthy.

If anything, your organization hurts liberals more since you are able to pull votes away--like in the Ralph Nader situation. Please understand that there are conservatives that actually like you and pull for you and even send money to your cause for this reason. What is your feeling on that?

Cary Simmons, San Francisco

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"Taking it out on workers' backs"

Dear Socialist Worker:
On August 30, Burlington, Vt., held its third annual Labor Day parade. It was great to see several workforces mobilized--especially since being a worker in today's society can often be demoralizing.

Take IBM workers for example. IBM is Vermont's top employer--or it was, until it laid off 500 employees last week. That, in itself, was maddening. But what made it completely insane is that while 500 families now lack necessary income, Gov. Jim Douglas also laid off 30 state employees who work for unemployment agencies!

"It's totally stupid," said IBM worker Glenn Taulton. "If they lay off workers when the economy is down, they still make money, which looks profitable to shareholders. Therefore, the executives get a bonus while taking it out on the backs of the workers. And if the economy goes back up, they're going to have to hire and train new people!"

So they'll have to spend time training new people unless IBM is going to permanently close part of its operation, "leaving the earth it took up a polluted mess, and Vermonters to pick up the tab," Ed Stanak, president of the Vermont State Employees Association, remarked. Stanak went on to identify the links between the corporations, the government and the war, and said he was trying to connect the dots with members of his union.

This is just what we need, and it gives new hope to building the labor and antiwar movements. Verizon workers were in attendance, and Taulton said he had a lot of hope for them because the atrocities of IBM make evident a new perspective on the need for organization: If there is none, corporate executives can take whatever they want.

Cynthia Little, Burlington, Vt.

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Correction and clarification

SOCIALIST WORKER incorrectly reported that the "Dean" in the Wall Street Investment firm Dean Witter came from Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean's family. In fact, the "Dean" came from the firm's co-founder Dean Witter--first name Dean, last name Witter.

According to the New York Times, the wrong story was first put out by a "senior adviser to a Dean rival [who] sent an e-mail message saying, 'You do know that he is the Dean of Dean Witter, don't you?'" However, Howard Dean's father was the head of stock trading for Dean Witter.

And the Deans are part of the old-money crowd that you'd expect to have their name attached to Wall Street firms. "Dean is about as WASP as you can get," columnist Jimmy Breslin wrote in New York Newsday. "He is out of East Hampton, the part of it where money comes out of the safe with a light coating of dust."

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