SPECTATOR A JOURNAL OF LIBERTARIAN AND CONSERVATIVE THOUGHT
• VOLUME X, ISSUE II • 2/2013
problems with divesting
elite, Ivy League liberals
interpreting the President Spectator February 2013.indd 1
Not all divestment is noble or effective
3 little-known gems around campus
Why do we vote for populist demagogues?
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LETTER FROM THE EDITORS
SPECTATOR editorial board
editors-in-chief Oliver Hudson Olivia Conetta
editor emeritus Ryan Fleming
senior managing editor Kelly Fennessy
managing editor Alex Drechsler
design editor Philip Trammell
photographer Tasha Nagamine
business manager Stephanie Hennings
J.P. Hare Benjamin Koatz Justin Braga
The past year has marked a shift in The Spectator’s coverage from mostly national issues to Brown-related content. Former Editor-in-Chief Ryan Fleming deserves credit for beginning the change in content during his tenure at the helm of the magazine, especially with his popular piece “A University’s Shame” (May 2012), which covered Brown’s handling of the William McCormick III rape case. It is our hope that you, as a frequent or occasional Spectator reader, find the magazine to be more relevant to your day-to-day life. This issue features a response to a Brown Daily Herald column, commentary on the Brown Divest Coal movement, and a contextualization of how leftleaning Brown students’ views on abortion are, among other Brown-related articles. We imagine that seeing another side of campus debates — or another side of campus issues not often publicly debated — will inform the position you take, even if it is not the one our authors advocate. And because the magazine focuses on subjects you frequently hear about, you will be more engaged with the articles. While our objective in increasing our coverage of Brown is not to criticize every move the administration makes, we do think it is dangerous to be comfortable with the authority that governs us and the policies that shape our everyday lives. We believe a balance between a willingness to criticize a bad policy and a willingness to commend a well-thought out policy is a healthy attitude. We urge you to keep a questioning mind when you consider the position you take in campus debates. Hopefully, The Spectator will serve as a guide for your thinking — and we encourage you to criticize our positions as well. Enjoy this month’s issue!
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Oliver Hudson Olivia Conetta Editors-in-Chief
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visit us online at brown-spectator.com
the problems with divestment Done wrong, divestment programs could impoverish our school without accomplishing any of the social change that its advocates strive for.
restaurant reviews Alex Drechsler and Stephanie Hennings take a closer look—and taste—at three of the best little-known eateries around campus.
what is a holiday, anyway? The Super Bowl is a wholesome, quintessentially American celebration more widely celebrated than many others with legal recognition. Out of both patriotism and pragmatism, Super Bowl Monday should be made a national holiday.
translating the president
President Barack Obama delivered his second inauguration address Jan. 21. Much of the speech was a string of unintelligible platitudes, so, as a public service, The Spectator has translated some excerpts into plain English.
the tragic death of buckyballs The banning of this once-popular toy epitomizes the tendency of federal regulators to overstep their bounds. Buckyballs posed no danger to anyone except the most irresponsible of their users.
why do Ivy Leaguers vote liberal? Most Ivy League students are motivated, hardworking individuals striving to count themselves among the highest earners in our society. Once they get there, they may find themselves attacked by the very class-warfare demagogues they helped elect.
how extreme are we? By supporting third-trimester abortions, Brunonians place themselves to the left even of the pro-choice movement as a whole. In the third trimester, abortion unambiguously ends a sentient human life.
anchoring educational progress Standardized testing is not a perfect way to measure teacher quality, but it has proven useful in other states. Rhode Island teachers should stop obstructing it.
99 problems but the 1% ain’t one If we are looking for a way to improve the opportunities of America’s masses, simple redistribution of wealth is not the answer.
laugh now, cry later Political cartoon
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the problems with divestment
ivestment has recently become a buzzword at Brown. Another question to weigh The Brown Divest Coal Campaign calls for Brown’s before divesting is whether there are divestment from “15 of the largest and filthiest coal com- viable alternative companies in which panies in America,” according to its website. The Brown Brown could invest. Brown Divest Daily Herald reported in November that, in a letter to Coal’s October letter to Paxson does President Christina Paxson, the Brown Advisory Com- not explicitly mention or express a mittee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies need for viable investment alternarecommended starting a campus dialogue about the Uni- tives. However, replacing divested versity’s investments in companies that profit from Israel’s funds with new funds is crucial to occupation of Palestine, a measure that the student group keep Brown running as it does now. Brown Students for Justice in Palestine supports. Brown runs on money. The quality of It is difficult not to feel incensed by the chilling our education and overall Brown exfacts about coal that Brown Divest Coal showcases on its perience, including our buildings and website or the knowledge that Brown invests in companies the diversity of the students around that commit human rights violations. But would Brown’s us, is dependent on a strong endowdivestment of coal companies or human rights-violating ment. It is unfair to diminish the valcompanies make a real difference? ue of the educational experience for For one, we have to consider how much money which we cough up over $42,000 per Brown has invested in each of the offending companies. academic year. While Brown does not make its investments public, it And finally, it is hard to does disclose the worth of its endowment, which currently imagine that every company in which stands at about $2.5 billion. If we assume that Brown’s in- Brown invests holds a record free vestment officers diversify the school’s portfolio, it follows from all environmental and human that Brown invests less than $2.5 billion in the companies rights abuses. A company may buy its at stake for divestment. Such a sum of money is chump raw materials from another company change for American Electric Power, a member of the that obtains them through unsavory “filthy 15” coal companies due to its large consumption means, such as deforestation or polluof coal. The company brought tion of the ocean. It is possible in over $15 billion in revenue that Brown students could find Brown students might ﬁ nd moral problems in 2011. Caterpillar, which, acmoral problems in every comin every company Brown is likely to invest cording to SJP, provides equippany Brown is likely to invest in, which would be ﬁnancially troubling for ment that the Israeli army uses in, which would be financially to raze Palestinian houses, troubling for the school’s futhe school’s future. Which moral wrongs raked in over $60 billion in will merit divestment? Where will the moral ture. Which moral wrongs revenue in 2011. It is unlikely will merit divestment? Where bright-line be drawn? that Brown’s divestment alone will the moral bright-line be would have a shattering ecodrawn? nomic impact on such companies. Even the full $2.5 bilThe sobering reality is that divestment does not lion value of Brown’s endowment represents a mere 16.7 make a huge dent in offending companies’ finances. Ivo percent of American Electric Power’s annual revenue and Welch, a former Brown economics professor who curonly 4 percent of Caterpillar’s annual revenue. rently holds a professorship of finance at the University of
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Done wrong, divestment could impoverish our school without effecting great social change. California at Los Angeles, and two other researchers found moral message that a particular practice should not conin a study that while the 1970s and 1980s divestment from tinue. The South African apartheid divestment campaign companies doing business in South Africa ended apart- worked in this way. While the companies involved will not heid, those companies’ public go bankrupt, moral outcry has market valuations faced no sigthe potential for real change. If Brown is joined by many other nificant impact. Though divestinstitutions, and decides where to draw the But it is unlikely that Brown’s ment campaigns’ goal is to hit voice alone will end a morally line, then divestment is worth considering. morally repugnant companies’ wrong practice. If Brown is wallets, divestment campaigns joined by many other schools do not work in that way. and companies, has viable alternative investments to reHowever, through the collective efforts of nu- place the divestments, and decides where to draw the line merous schools and companies across the country (and of which companies to divest from, then divestment is the world), divestment campaigns can send a powerful worth considering. opinion
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ALEX DRECHSLER & STEPHANIE HENNINGS
While the walk is a bit of a schlep, nothing beats an early weekend brunch at Red Stripe (not even Loui’s). This upscale Wayland Square American-style restaurant can be quite pricey, so we recommend going during lunchtime, which is also when the restaurant boasts an expanded menu with better options. While almost every dish we’ve tried has been generously proportioned and of highest quality, there is one offer from Red Stripe that trumps all else: the frites. With a name we can only describe as a “fancy man’s French fry,” these frites are thinly cut and generously salted French fries served with an understated yet well-suited cheese aioli, a combination which these writers can truthfully claim has redefined the traditional French fry. If all else fails, order the frites. In addition to the renowned fried potatoes, Red Stripe also offers a fantastic Cobb salad with a zesty dressing, the most flavorful pastrami sandwich this Jew has ever tasted, and unique mussels dishes at reasonable prices, which, conveniently, are served with frites. The grilled cheese — traditional or with a poached pear — is also delicious and served with either tomato soup or frites (you can guess our personal choice). Anyone aching for some homestyle American food with a twist can find it at Red Stripe. Oh, and also frites. Don’t forget about those.
Abyssinia is the only Ethiopian place we have ever heard of — and we’re from New York, the home of exotic foods if there ever were one. You likely have never heard of Ethiopian food either, and the fact that it is eaten exclusively with your hands (you should feel embarrassed if you ask for silverware) probably doesn’t make it all the more appealing. Yet the savory richness of the meats and vegetables as well as the spongy pancake-like bread served alongside is well worth the experiment. The dishes served at this hole-in-thewall restaurant on Wickenden Street are certainly unusual: chicken served in-bone with spicy, tasty gravy and a hardboiled egg; lentils well-cooked into a deep, rich, stew-like consistency; and uncooked beef served minced with a tangy sauce. Our personal favorites are key wot (beef with spicy sauce and a moderating cheese) and doro wot (the spicy chicken mentioned above). Abyssinia also boasts a selection of delicious vegetarian dishes that make the mouths of carnivores like us water. If you are extra hungry and in an especially experimental mood, we would recommend one of the meat combinations, which come with a sampling of all the vegetarian dishes. BYOB (with no uncorking cost) is an added bonus.
Featured dish: frites
Featured dish: doro wot
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ar ts & style
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Luxe Burger Bar If Brown ever had to create a burger joint, this would be the one. A self-acclaimed “build your own burger” restaurant, Luxe Burger Bar allows its clientele to choose from a wide range of meats, cheeses, toppings, premium toppings (pulled pork and pastrami, anyone?), and sauces into a oneof-a-kind personalized burger. This New Curriculum-type restaurant is well-suited for the experimental Brown individual, and “by cultivating such openness, you will learn to make the most of the freedom you have, and to chart the broadest possible intellectual journey.” Okay, that was taken from the Dean of the College on the New Curriculum, but I do think it applies to building your own burger, don’t you? Maybe we take meat too seriously. But actually, the burgers offered at this restaurant are high-quality and very tasty, and at a reasonable price — although located directly across from the hotsy totsy tooexpensive-even-during-Restaurant-Week Capital Grille. For those watching their waist, the menu allows for lean turkey and whole-wheat bun, neither of which detracts from the tastiness of the sandwich. And for those not watching their waist, there is a “pimp your fries” option allowing you to add anything from bacon to chili to sour cream right on top of the French fry side dish.
Featured dish: make your own burger
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what is a holiday, anyway?
Let’s make our celebration of the Super Bowl official
hile life at Brown can be a bubble sheltered from pop culture, the far-reaching effect of the Super Bowl still penetrates College Hill. On campus, and across America, people gather to eat pizza and wings and to watch, or pretend to watch, the Super Bowl. More than 111 million viewers tune in. People from all walks of life post about the game on Facebook, often deciding which team to support on a whim. The Super Bowl reaches far beyond the contingency of fans who care or know anything about football. The word “holiday” is defined as “a day of festivity or recreation when no work is done.” That definition fits the Super Bowl perfectly. Americans celebrate the Super Bowl as they would other holidays, with family, friends, and food. The Super Bowl is second only to Thanksgiving in food consumption.
aetaaaaeeeeeeeeeeeeee Americans celebrate the Super Bowl as they would other holidays, with family, friends, and food.
place when work resumes on Tuesday, and honor the most popular event in modern American culture.” The Super Bowl is essential to American culture and thus should be celebrated and endorsed officially. The Super Bowl unites Americans of every economic class, race, religion, and geographic location. It provides complete strangers with a topic to discuss and unites them as Americans. Supporting the event as a holiday officially supports such camaraderie and patriotism. Declaring the Super Bowl a holiday would allow the police force to better prepare for the event. When necessary personnel work most holidays, such as Christmas or Thanksgiving, they are compensated for missing their ideal holiday celebration. Such an incentive should be available to police officers who must work instead of partaking in the festivities. Even though there are no tangible attachments between Brown or Providence to the San Francisco 49ers
or the Baltimore Ravens, many students forwent their normal Sunday
aetaaaaeeeeeeeeeeeeee Ofﬁcially supporting the event as a holiday ofﬁcially supports camaraderie and patriotism. night studying routines to take part in the ritual of the Super Bowl. One does not have to support one of the teams in the game or follow the sport at all to feel included and American just by watching the game. Perhaps this appeal is little more than permission not to feel guilty about watching instead of working. Holidays are a huge defining part of every culture. Why would we officially recognize holidays that no one celebrates, such as Columbus Day, but not officially recognize the most popular unofficial holiday? Such recognition would demonstrate pride in our culture.
4for4.com Fantasy Football began a petition for the Super Bowl to become a national holiday, but it did not reach the necessary 100,000 signatures to require a response from the White House before game day. The petition states that “By doing so, the Obama Administration can promote camaraderie among the American people, keep the streets safer for our children on Sunday night and Monday morning, promote a productive work-
Brown students watching the Super Bowl XLVII
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translating the president
President Barack Obama delivered his second inauguration address Jan. 21. Much of the speech was a string of unintelligible platitudes, so, as a public service, The Spectator has translated below some of the speech’s excerpts into plain English.
“Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution.”
“…That they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Today we continue a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time.”
TRANSLATION “Never mind the fact that I have ridden roughshod over the Constitution. After all, I signed the Affordable Care Act, a violation of the enumerated powers of Congress. I assassinated an American citizen without due process, a violation of the Fifth Amendment. I bullied Chrysler’s secured creditors into accepting less than their due for the benefit of my union allies, a violation of the Takings and Due Process Clauses. But I’m a constitutional scholar, so just trust me that I’m protecting the Constitution when I say I am.” “By saying the words of the Declaration of Independence are malleable, I can say they mean anything I want them to mean.”
“Together we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.”
“Only with nearly unlimited, unreviewable government oversight of markets can we prevent economic crises.”
“No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores.”
“Don’t kid yourself — the individual cannot be strong. Only together can we prosper.”
“We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.” “The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security — these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us.”
“We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.”
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“By rising, I mean falling. Since 2009, average income for the middle 20 percent of American households decreased by 4 percent.” “No matter how dire America’s fiscal situation, I will never be honest about the drastic changes needed to Medicare and Social Security. The political price is too great.” “My presidency has been a time of perpetual war. I sent 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, have ordered more than six times the number of drone strikes in Pakistan than George W. Bush ordered, and have started military action in Libya, Yemen, and Somalia. But hey, I won a Nobel Peace Prize.”
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nanny Sam and the death of buckyballs
heir website is non-assuming and accessible. With a misuse. What’s scary is that when the CSPC, and federal beige and blue theme, slowly cycling images of infants agencies like it, see any example of danger in our lives, they and tents, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission view it as their jurisdiction and mandate to save us from it. seems friendly and paternal as it presents you with its humWhat does that kind of world look like? Well, of ble achievements in its quest to “[protect] the public from course it means banning alcohol and tobacco immediately, unreasonable risks” in their daily lives as consumers. along with cars, airplanes and motorcycles. Ships seem to But even as it displays the façade of a good-natured pal, the sink relatively often (at least, more than 1,700 people are CPSC’s record is not all gallantry and roses. Yes, it has re- hospitalized every three years because of them), so let’s ban called some seriously defective products in the past. I would those too. In our quest for perfect safety, we could ban a lot hope that its record would have some bright spots, as the of things that make us happy or make our lives better, even agency was from Richard Nixon’s era. But as its budget has though they come with some risk. expanded, its recall lists grown, its thirst to protect AmeriUnless we’re going to start banning much more cans from “unreasonable risks” grown more insatiable, we dangerous stuff than Buckyballs, let’s start discussing where have seen the CSPC move into the role of a nanny, rather we’re setting this balance between safety and quality of life. than a consumer protector. A helpful place to start would be Brown’s list of In 1988, the CSPC banned certain metal lawn darts. banned items. If you view the list on the Office of ResidenIn 2004, it banned water rockets. And in 2012, Buckyballs tial Life’s website, you can see that almost every item there fell under the axe. is banned because it is an explicit or implicit fire hazard. If you don’t know what Buckyballs are, they’re a Why is that? Because fire is an inherent danger not only to stress-relieving, time-wasting yourself, but to everybody else set of magnetic balls that you around you. It makes sense that Open-ﬂ ame grills are a ﬁ re hazard; it can use to make nearly infithe decision to have an openmakes sense that the decision to have one nite forms, shapes, and objects. flame grill in your dorm room in your dorm room is not really yours alone. is not really yours alone. They feel good to play with, and they’re great for small-time creBut curiously, Buckyballs On the other hand, my decision to ingest ative bursts. and darts aren’t on the list. Buckyballs hurts me, but it really has no But because there were Perhaps because ResLife hasn’t negative effect on you. several hundred cases of hospiheard of the CPSC’s decision talization from people (primarand has yet to catch up, but ily children) ingesting the magnets, the CSPC decided to maybe because they’re more discerning than the agency as ban the wildly popular toys for good. Maxfield & Ober- well. My decision to ingest Buckyballs hurts me, but it really ton, the company that makes Buckyballs, tried to allay the has no negative effect on you. This is the principle of peragency’s fears numerous times: putting warnings all over sonal, rather than societal, responsibility for bad decisions. their websites, their boxes, and their instruction manuals. In the case of children, the situation gets murkier. They specifically marketed the product as an adult desk toy. However, our laws already have a very stringent and enSadly, 1,700 medical incidents still arose over the past three trenched notion of child negligence, which could be applied years in direct relation to their product. So the CSPC wasn’t in every case where parents allow children access to prodbuying it. And now, neither can we. ucts not intended for their use. This would offer judicial But what’s especially disconcerting isn’t the specif- protection for children and allow adults to enjoy possibly ic instance of one of my favorite toys being banned or the dangerous products (as almost every product is on some terrible cases of hospitalization that arose from Buckyball level) and suffer the consequences of their own mistakes.
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R. I. P. This article is not meant to advocate for the end of Kosher regulations exist beyond the governmental fray. all regulation. It’s just meant to advocate for possible alter- Organic, fair-trade, non-genetically modified organism lanatives to a “nanny state” that aims for ultimate safety. For beling companies all offer their services with a guarantee adults of sound mind, personal responsibility (in research- to the consumer and a valuable, trademarked label to the ing a product beforehand, knowing that smoking will hurt producers. Consumer Reports and numerous online rating you, knowing that alcohol kills, websites help provide informaknowing that driving a car cartion to shoppers before they In regulating the safety of products for ries some risk) is the core prinbuy. adults, non-governmental organizations ciple. Beyond that, child negliIn the end, the death of have arisen in many areas to pick up the gence law should be preferred Buckyballs is a sad thing for a government’s slack. to banning products unsafe for lot of reasons. Because an entrechildren. This would save us preneur had a dream, provided unnecessary bureaucracy, lower legal costs for small busi- a good to a lot of people, and had it crushed by an unforgivness, and allow adults to enjoy more products safely while ing bureaucracy. Because Buckyballs could’ve ended in so addressing the actual issues our society faces directly. many other, better ways. But mainly because it carries the In regulating the safety of products for adults, non- presumption that the safety of all at any cost is okay. Let’s get governmental organizations have arisen in many areas to the principles of personal responsibility and common sense pick up the government’s slack. UL is a famous example back into our regulatory framework. It’ll make the world a in the electronics field. In fact, Brown uses UL guidelines better, more enjoyable, more vibrant place to live. to regulate holiday decorations. Whole Foods extensively regulates its own products, as do many supermarket chains. opinion
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what your liberal vote did to your Ivy League education
J. P. HARE
hy do we choose to attend an Ivy League school? And what designates you to this roster of greedy, We believe our investment of time and money will selfish elitism? Obama’s tax proposal from this July suggests provide us with a good educathat if you make more than tion, a powerful network, and Contrary to all our efforts toward success, $250,000, you should make the unique skills that will bring us many ambitious Ivy League students voted list. By that standard, as an Ivy higher social standing. Many of League student hoping to rise for a president who is actively trying to us aspire to hold roles of leadinto the upper class, I should inhibit their success. ership or of high expertise besoon find myself in this concause we expect that our skills tingency of people with despiand energies will be appropriately acknowledged. And, we cable moral values who favor selfishness and oppression. expect to be rewarded for all the hard work that we are dedicating to our careers. Surely, monetary reward is a significant driver of our expectations, seeing that we pay large sums of money to attend our universities, either immediately or in the form of student loans. It is sobering to think given how much we invest in our education, we are sure we Measures of will attain success. undergraduate student Thus, we are creatures of ambition. Many of us political afﬁliation vary were accepted to an Ivy League school because we showed from campus to campus, but the numbers of large that we have genuine ambition for improving our lives faculty donors to the through education. Yet in this time of global recession, presidential campaigns international conflict, and political skepticism, the chalare well publicized. BROWN lenges that inhibit our ambition are only growing larger. Students’ political beliefs 129 OBAMA DONORS : 1 ROMNEY Competitive internships and professional networking have are also well known to a graduate’s expected peak approximate those of the taken off aggressively as further means to building the sucincome: $228,000 faculty of their chosen cessful career that we all think we deserve. schools. While the Ivy Yet, contrary to all our efforts toward success, many League as a whole is of these ambitious Ivy League students — certainly a majorvery liberal, the dearth of ity at Brown — voted for a president who is actively tryRomney support at Brown is truly unmatched. ing to inhibit their success. Of the many populist messages that President Barack Obama promoted during his 2012 presidential campaign, one such message suggested that the rich need to pay their fair share. Not only this, but Obama has portrayed the upper class as a greedy, insensitive contingent that is responsible for our economic recession and is, by all attempts, trying to subvert the middle class. In a speech delivered in Osawatomie, Kans., Obama said of the HARVARD rich, “Their philosophy is simple: We are better off when ev555 : 30 erybody is left to fend for themselves and play by their own a graduate’s expected peak rules.” Obama’s statement manifests a strong condescension income: $288,000 toward those who simply have more money than others.
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It is surprising to find that so many Ivy League students, at Brown and abroad, are so fiercely liberal when their votes go to someone whose political platform is focused on debunking the legitimacy of a social class that those students aspire to reach. It seems antithetical to vote for a candidate who wants to take more and more of the money you earned after you and your parents have invested and sacrificed so much to providing you opportunities that help you earn that money. In many ways, this line of thinking seems unfair, especially when this candidate’s adminis-
tration has proved largely incapable of justifying its tax intake by running the four biggest annual U.S. federal deficits since World War II. As exceptional students and future leaders, it seems silly that many of us so adamantly support the attack on people we are trying to personally emanate or ingratiate ourselves with. Liberal politics has become very antagonistic toward the wealthy as of late, and it should be no surprise that many young liberal voters will soon find themselves under attack as they launch themselves into their careers.
652 : 21
282 : 11
90 : 6
a graduate’s expected peak income: $241,000
a graduate’s expected peak income: $210,000
a graduate’s expected peak income: $321,000
376 : 26
277 : 4
399 : 13
a graduate’s expected peak income: $282,000
a graduate’s expected peak income: $261,000
a graduate’s expected peak income: $326,000
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how extreme are we?
It’s time for Brown students to see how far left of center they stand
n November of last year, the Brown Daily Herald released try, the United Kingdom, has its boundaries — 24 weeks. a poll summarizing Brown students’ abortion views. UnIf a woman is looking to have a legal abortion past surprisingly, the vast majority of students were pro-choice 24 weeks, she might seek asylum in China, where there are — 81.2 percent, to be exact. What does raise eyebrows is no term limits to abortion, although many feminists might the extreme devotion to abortion rights that Brown students cringe at the fact that this would permit more sex-selective proclaim — the plurality of students, 42.1 percent, support abortions. Chinese families, burdened with the one-child abortion even in the third trimester. policy, are wont to abort female fetuses. One might call this This number is alarming for a number of reasons. the actual “war on women.” It is an overwhelmingly unpopular position among the genBeyond China, why are governments so universal in eral public, few legislatures support it, and it encroaches into their unwillingness to allow third-trimester abortions? Bequestionable bioethical territory. cause as science progresses, we know more and more about The abortion debate is one of the most divisive top- the development of the fetus. ics in America. Unlike gay marriage, support for and against The third trimester begins at week 27 of pregnancy. By this abortion has remained relatime, the baby already has a tively split over the past few desense of motion and can feel its Over 40 percent of Brunonians support cades with no real generational mother dancing. Its taste buds third-trimester abortions: a position so divide. In fact, according to are already two weeks old. It radically pro-choice that 79 percent of all Gallup, Americans between the just began practicing breathing. ages of 18 and 29 are less suppro-choice supporters disagree with them. At 28 weeks the baby probably portive of abortion than those just experienced its first dream. No country in the western world permits between the ages of 30 and 49. She has eyelashes. And yes, she’s third-trimester abortions. Despite being a hard-fought been able to feel pain for over cultural war of attrition, both eight weeks. sides do have some common ground: Third-trimester aborBy 28 weeks, just the one week into the third trimestions should be illegal. ter, a premature baby has a 90 percent chance of survival. According to a 2011 Gallup poll, the two sides were That means that without the help of her mother, she has a in agreement when it came to third-trimester abortions: 79 nine in 10 chance of growing up into an adult just like you percent of pro-choice and 94 percent of pro-life supporters or me. But she doesn’t even need to be 28 weeks old to have felt that third-trimester abortions should be illegal. that chance. When the overwhelming majority of pro-choice As modern medicine improves, so does the chance Americans feel that these late abortions should be illegal, of premature survival. In 2008, 21-week-old Amillia Taylor Brown students stand in stark contrast with their peers. Over was born in Florida, a full six weeks before the third trimes40 percent of Brunonians are so radically pro-choice that 79 ter. She survived and is now 4 years old. It happened again, percent of all pro-choice supporters disagree with them. two years later, in Germany, when 21-week-old Frieda ManNot only do the vast majority of Americans find the gold survived without any health complications. typical Brown student’s views to be extreme, but no country According to 41.2 percent of Brown students, Amilin the western world permits third-trimester abortions. Even lia and Frieda never had a right to survive when they were in the most liberal of European nations, abortion term lim- born, nor do the other 90 percent of surviving babies born its are restrictive. Germany doesn’t allow abortions after 12 after 28 weeks. If Brown students want to fight against the weeks, Sweden limits anything after 18 weeks, Spain only al- wanton disregard to human freedom and the right to life, lows them up until 22 weeks, and even the most lenient coun- they should begin with the man in the mirror.
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sonogram of an infant at the beginning of the third trimester
premature birth, sustained in an incubator
Amillia Taylor at her fourth birthday party
Frieda Mangold, soon after her return from the hospital
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anchoring educational progress in Rhode Island
he report card grades are in. Education Week, an edu- areas from mathematics to physical education. In Toobin’s cational news publication, recently released their annu- article, John Tyler, professor of education, economics, and al state-by-state education rankings and scores. The scores public policy at Brown, was critical of the system’s leniency were based on eight independent areas: chance for student toward evaluating teachers, alluding that it may encourage success, the teaching profession, K-12 achievement, school teachers to set lower standards in order to produce evidence finance, standards, assessment, accountability, and transi- of progression in student achievement. However, Tyler did tions and alignment. Rhode Island ranked 20th in the nation concede that the evaluation system, while imperfect, was a and above the national average score of 76.5 with a score of step in the right direction toward quantifying student prog77.7, good enough for a C+. Both the nation’s overall score ress with codified achievement goals. and Rhode Island’s score are unsatisfactory when compared Despite establishing the foundation for an improved to educational systems worldwide, and to Massachusetts’s system of evaluating student progress based on data, some in educational system, which ranks second in the nation after the Ocean State have dropped the anchor when it comes to Maryland’s. moving toward any evaluation system that quantifies student After Pearson gave the United States’ education comprehension. In a Providence Journal article published system a rank of 17th out of 40 in December, Jennifer Jordan developed nations, the Obama gives a snapshot of this negaSome in the Ocean State have dropped Administration began the Race tive sentiment towards the new the anchor when it comes to moving to the Top initiative in 2009. evaluation system. The opening toward any evaluation system that RTT set aside $4.35 billion to be of the article is a microcosm of quantiﬁ es student comprehension. distributed to states that exemthe resentment among some of plified innovative approaches to Rhode Island teachers and their developing a comprehensive system of teacher evaluation, union leaders toward the new system, claiming that “It’s not encouraging competition with charter schools, and imple- fair. … It’s demoralizing. Even worse, it’s distracting them menting best instructional practices supported by standard- from helping their students.” The teachers who oppose the ized tests and other quantitative measures of performance. new system have even taken to the Internet, generating an In a Brown Daily Herald article from last October, online petition that over 4,000 teachers have signed on a reporter Adam Toobin describes the arduous task of devel- self-generated website called slowridedown.com. oping and implementing a more comprehensive system of Though the website chastises the new evaluation teacher evaluation in Rhode Island. Before Secretary of Ed- system for “untested” evaluation techniques, it does not ofucation Arne Duncan even began executing the RTT initia- fer any counter plan for evaluating teachers quantitatively. tive, the Rhode Island Department of Education had already While the demand to “slow RIDE down” may be a catchy begun the process of constructing a comprehensive evalua- political slogan, the real question that should be asked is tion system. The initiative only incentivized RIDE to follow “What exactly are we slowing RIDE down from doing?” through with the process of satisfying one of the facets of Implementing an evaluation system that quantifies student RTT. Rhode Island received $125 million between 2010 and progress and seeks to emphasize best practices? Slowing 2011 from RTT and has devoted $18 million of that sum to down the implementation of a system that is much more implementing its new teacher evaluation system. generous to teachers than the new (and arguably) stricter Rhode Island’s evaluation system is both unique evaluation standards agreed to by the Massachusetts Teachand controversial because it evaluates teachers based on ers Association and Massachusetts Department of Elemenstudent learning objectives set by teachers and the school tary and Secondary Education? And most importantly, are administration. The system quantifies progress in all subject critics obstructing an opportunity for Rhode Island to be-
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Standardized tests measure not just the knowledge and intelligence of a student but the quality of his teacher. It is time for the state of Rhode Island to recognize this. come more competitive among the states by reforming the status quo of teacher evaluation? It seems like the only thing being slowed down by those in opposition to any means of quantifiable measures is progress. The Pearson study shows that when it comes to improving education, there are in fact no “magic bullets.” However, it does elaborate on comprehensive steps that can be taken in order to remedy issues within the system. One of the primary recommendations from the study is encouraging high-quality teachers and placing an emphasis on professional development and best practices, stating that “teachers need to be treated as the valuable professionals they are.” As a part of this process, it is necessary that states such as Rhode Island implement rigorous evaluation systems to ensure that the best teachers are distinguished opinion
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and serve as instructional role models for others. Teacher evaluations should not be looked at as a means of demeaning the teaching profession, but rather strengthening it by offering a way for teachers to improve the instruction that they offer students. Rhode Island’s infant evaluation system is not perfect, and even its main proponent, Commissioner Deborah Gist, has opened the door to gradual improvements. However, the notion of Rhode Island’s teachers’ unions that “high-stakes” quantitative measures of progress have no place in teacher evaluations actually discredits the teaching profession more than it enriches it. We should be encouraging best practices that are supported by data to ensure that teachers are performing to the best of their ability and that students are receiving the education that they deserve.
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continued | anchoring educational progress
Recently, William J. Bennett, Secretary of Educa- future all are problems that need to be addressed. It will tion under President Ronald Reagan, articulated the direct take a collaborative approach to improve Rhode Island’s correlation between receiving a strong education and the educational issues and put the state on track for long-term eradication of poverty. Education still stands as the primary economic growth. However, improving teacher quality cansource of social mobility for every individual living in the not be phased out of the equation. The teachers who signed U.S., Bennett said. He alluded the petition to “slow RIDE to English philosopher Eddown” all play a crucial role in Rhode Island’s evaluation system is mund Burke, who referred to educating Rhode Island’s chilboth unique and controversial because communities that encourage indren. However, they must unit evaluates teachers based on student tellectual growth and character derstand that empirically suplearning objectives set by teachers and the ported instructional techniques development as “little platoons,” school administration. all of which serve as sources of will improve both their abilities upward mobility for society. as educators and the education The responsibility of every state is to educate its they offer their students. Rather than slow down, Rhode Ischildren to the best of its ability. Rhode Island is no excep- land must speed up, and work its way closer to making subtion. As shown in the Pearson study, issues of family en- stantial improvements in helping its students achieve the gagement, the culture of learning, and educating for the American Dream.
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99 problems but the 1% ain’t one
n spite of their happy and friendly nature, Brown stu- to point out that this is an issue that is not necessarily dedents like to get angry. While this anger is typically chan- termined along partisan lines. One must only think back neled through smug academic contempt (rather than your to the Republican primary — when a Rick Santorum cantypical yelling and screaming), it is anger after all. With Is- didacy actually seemed a possibility — to remember that raeli airstrikes into Hamas kicking up and Donald Trump Romney and the wealth he stands for were attacked by Retweeting about a second American revolution, Brown stu- publican primary candidates all around. dents have much to be angry about. Yet the most recent Hudson’s article does beg the question of why so sway of Brown fury has been directed instead toward an much attention has been focused on the wealthy. Why are article our Co-Editor-in-Chief Oliver Hudson wrote for we so angry? Why do we blame the wealthy for their sucthe Brown Daily Herald in November. The now-infamous cess? Why do we fight over how much of their income to op-ed called for apportioning a person’s vote based on the take in taxes in the first place? Why do we spend so much amount of taxes he or she pays to the government. political capital and energy transferring money from the I should be upfront with the fact that I disagree wealthy to other parts of society? with the conclusions my colleague drew in his article. I The answer Brown students gave has some lemust respectfully assert what gitimacy — the wealthy got to many Brown students have alwhere they are because they President Barack Obama’s campaign ready argued. A government is positioned the incumbent as the advocate were lucky. While I do believe more than a huge Ponzi scheme that this is an unfair simplificaof the 99 percent and sketched Mitt of money transferring, but is tion, even I cannot deny that Romney as the aloof, wealthy capitalist. set up to pay for the public economic mobility is not nearly goods that taxpayers individuas robust as one might consider ally would never produce, such as the military, courts, ideal. However, in spite of this truth, attacks on the wealthy schools, and roads. As well, the government, as nearly two are still largely misguided. Of course, I can run through and a half centuries of American political philosophy have many examples of greedy executives going out of their way determined, is intended to protect the rights of all its citi- to screw over the helpless. But if we search for a fundamenzens. I believe the consequences of such as policy would be tal way to improve the social mobility of America’s masses, harmful, but discussing the merits of Hudson’s article is not redistribution and the political wrath that accompanies it my focus. is not the solution. This is especially true when a majority However, once the dust of the controversy clears, of this transfer goes towards the elderly — or, even worse, I do believe there is a message worth considering beneath when our government must borrow football fields’ worth the hoopla of Hudson’s article. The op-ed — and even the of cash to execute that transfer. No, to fix this problem we hate speech it incited — highlights the growing divide in have to invest in our next generation both financially and American political, economic, and social life between the mentally. I will tackle each individually. wealthy and the middle- to lower-classes. This tension was First, we must invest more in education. To Brown inherent in almost every twist and turn of the recent elec- students, this seems like a no-brainer. But unfortunately, tion. President Barack Obama’s campaign positioned the neither party has put much political capital behind exincumbent as the advocate of the 99 percent and sketched panding educational opportunities. While Obama is the Mitt Romney as the aloof, wealthy capitalist. The Romney champion of Pell Grants, in practice his budget devotes less camp instead championed the wealthy candidate and la- than 2 percent of federal funds to education. Spending on beled Obama supporters as “dependent” or “entitled” (see Medicare and Social Security, on the other hand, gobble up Romney’s infamous “47 percent” comment). It is important nearly 40 percent of the budget. This is only part of the reaopinion
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son that public spending on the elderly is more than double resented groups of society. The opportunities do exist, but spending on the youth. For a country that is striving for so- we need to encourage the youth to take advantage of them. cial mobility, this is a disturbing fact. Taxing the rich may Attacking the wealthy is not the way to do this. Rather, it is important for us as a society to emappear a noble goal, but if this money is not allocated effectively, the entire point is moot. Investing in education is not brace hard work and to highlight these opportunities that a numbers game. Nonetheless, we need to have a national do exist. As Charles Murray highlighted in his recent bestdiscussion about how best to provide opportunities to the seller Coming Apart, those who are born into poorer famiyouth, rather than turn a blind eye to their growing poverty. lies are more likely to make harmful decisions, such as having children out of wedlock and There is much more we should be doing as a society to To improve the social mobility of America’s disregarding or even dropping out of school. Perpetuating reimprove the situation facing masses, redistribution and the political sentment of the wealthy and the youth. We must provide wrath that accompanies it is not the painting the system as one in not only opportunities but also solution. Rather, it is important for us as which you absolutely must be the avenue to take advantage of a society to embrace hard work and to born wealthy to gain wealth is them by investing in the youth highlight these opportunities that do exist. not only untrue — take a look mentally. We must teach the around here at Brown — but it youth good values and gear them towards the opportunities that do exist for upward also encourages those who are young to make these wrong mobility. While Brown is far from perfectly egalitarian, I choices. These two halves cannot exist independently. am pleased to see among my friends a wide diversities of backgrounds and upbringings. My friends are not stereo- Rather, we as a society need to make a conscious effort typical Ivy League WASPs — in fact, many of my closest to truly improve the opportunities for social mobility by friends came from extremely difficult backgrounds yet investing in the youth, especially those born into poorer worked their way through life. Being at Brown will give areas, both mentally and financially. Only with these two them the opportunities that we so desperately want the investments coexisting and self-reinforcing can we really poor to have. Beyond higher education, many companies make the strides toward producing an ideal society that now have diversity programs that seek to target underrep- truly stands for the American dream.
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LAUGHcry NOWlater ar ts & style
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“Obama Tax Plan Would ‘Ask More of Millionaires’” – New York Times, September 17, 2011 “We should ask the wealthy to pay a little bit more” – Barack Obama, July 13, 2012 “ASKING MILLIONAIRES TO PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE” – barackobama.com/taxes “I will ask for more tax increases on the rich later” – Barack Obama, January 1, 2013
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winners & losers
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THE TAXI TAX
While Winter Storm Nemo pummeled Providence with nearly 20 inches of snow, Brown’s Dining Services and Facilities Management workers toiled tirelessly to keep Brown students well-fed and safe on campus. The workers even stayed at Brown the night of Feb. 8 so that they could get back to work in the morning. There has been an outpouring of gratitude for Dining Services’ and Facilities’ efforts, including an anonymous compliment on the Brown University Compliments Facebook page and a student-created card for Sharpe Refectory workers. The Spectator would also like to thank the workers who made Nemo a lot more enjoyable than it would have been with snowy walkways and a dearth of food. Though the weather outside was frightful, the Dining Services and Facilities workers kept our weekend delightful.
Like many fiscally irresponsible state legislatures across America, the Rhode Island legislature has driven the state to the brink of financial calamity. Rhode Island has a total debt of $19 billion — roughly $18,000 per family. The Wall Street Journal ranks R.I. as the 49th worst-run state. The Frazer Institute ranks the state 41st in economic freedom thanks to its excessive taxation, regulation, and bloated government. The legislature’s solution to its own financial recklessness is to punish a slice of small businesses. As of Oct. 1, a new 7 percent sales tax went into effect on pet grooming services, taxi fares, and clothing over $250. The Spectator finds it outrageous that the legislature cowardly dumps its own mess on mostly powerless small businesses — particularly the 198 licensed RI cabs. When Brown students get upset that fares have risen, they should direct their frustration to the state legislature.
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