January 10, 2003

The Public Forum . . . El Foro Publico

An Increase in Defense Spending

Before George W. Bush’s father became President, one invulnerable submarine could destroy any country on Earth.

The cold War ended over 10 years ago. The former Soviety Union split into 15 countries. There are about 300 million people in the U.S. For each of the past 10 years the U.S. has been spending about $300 billion for defense. In other words, the U.S. has been spending about $1000 per person, per year for the last 10 years

According to page 207 of the 2002 World Almanac, the U.S. defense budget is now 5 times larger than the Russian budget. All western European nations are allies of the U.S.

Still George W. Bush wants large increases in non-terrorist related defense spending.

Sandy Wilson
San Diego

Evictions Have Created Havoc

The decision of the City of Carlsbad to evict farm workers from campsites along the Agua Hedionda Lagoon has resulted in a serious crisis for the nearly 100 farm workers who work at Leslie strawberry farms in Carlsbad.

Left without their own makeshift shelters, the men have been forced to precarious conditions on the side of nearby hills. Besides the workers’ humiliation of being homeless, foremen and security guards from Leslie farms have been harassing and intimidating the men and denying them access to water, a basic necessity. Some workers have been fired for talking to migrant advocates and others have been threatened with dismissal.

The City of Carlsbad has a moral obligation to supply emergency shelter for the men they have evicted. Counseling “patience” to the workers is grossly hypocritical. Vague promises of future housing also falls on deaf ears. The men need shelter now.

How an employer such as Leslie can harass the very men that help them in the harvest of a multimillion dollar strawberry crop is hard to comprehend. Yet Leslie has evicted scores of men from its farms in Del Mar and is doing the same in Carlsbad.

Solutions to the present dilemma are not difficult to find. If the U.S. Army can go abroad to help homeless victims of warfare, why can’t the army or the marines set up shelters for the farm workers who contribute so much to our economy? If the City of Carlsbad is incapable or unwilling to aid farm workers, maybe Governor Gray Davis can intervene and supply emergency housing.

Ecumenical Migrant Outreach is joining with a coalition of several other groups. We will continue to pressure Carlsbad and Leslie Farms until they provide safe and decent shelters and begin to treat farm workers with dignity and respect.

Barbar Perrigo, (EMOP)
Mark Day, (EMOP)
Christian Ramirez, American Friends

Students Advocating for The DREAM Act

I am writing on behalf of the Coalition of Student Advocates (COSA)–a newly formed organization run by and dedicated to students. Currently, we have launched a letter-writing campaign to members of Congress and the President urging their support of two bipartisan bills soon to be up for vote.

The first of the two is the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (S. 1291), also known as the DREAM Act. If passed, it would grant U.S. residency to certain undocumented immigrants who graduate from high school. It would apply only to young who have resided in the United States for at least 5 years, have demonstrated good moral character, and have no criminal record. Immigrants who are over 21 would benefit as well if they obtained their high school diploma or an equivalent within four years of the law’s enactment and are enrolled in college.

The second is the Student Adjustment Act (H.R. 1918). This bill is very similar to the first. It would eliminate the federal provision that discourages states from providing in-state tuition, providing higher education benefits for applicants, and offer an opportunity to obtain legal status so long as the student graduates from high school, is between 12 and 21, has been present in the U.S. for a continuous period for at least five years, and is of good moral character.

For more information on the bills in question, please feel free to explore our website: www.cosaonline.org.

Shahrzad Jamshidi
COSA Member

Don’t Penalize the Women

I am very concerned over current efforts to cutback of rescind Title IX protections for women. What disturbs me the most is that these efforts have been promoted by Division I college football and men’s basketball programs. Most of these programs are only very thinly veiled farm systems for the NFL and NBA. They have degraded athletic academic standards, poor graduation rates and recruiting scandals.

Locally, it has been argued that the San Diego State University men’s volleyball program was dropped because of budgetary constraints resulting from the need to fund women’s athletic programs. Actually, SDSU spends more on decals for the football team’s helmets then the cost of the men’s volleyball program. Additionally, the loss and theft of athletic equipment has been rampant. It is not the cost of women’s programs that are the root SDSU’s budgetary problems; it is poor financial management and accountability.

The division 1 college bemoan the loss of football and basketball scholarships necessitated by funding women’s programs. If additional funding is required for the men’s football and basketball programs, I suggest that the NFL and NBA provide them. Additionally, if you want to take actions to improve academic  performance in college athletic programs, I suggest the adoption of a base scholarships number that each college program must multiply by that program’s graduation rate. For example, it the base number were 100 a college football program with a 60% graduation rate would be allowed 60 scholarships.

To solve the problem, don’t penalize the women. Improve the financial management and scholastic quality of the men’s programs.

William J. Anderson
San Diego

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