Letters to the Editor: ‘Real Capitalism' Is Foundation Of Social Inequality

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In his letter about Reclaim The Streets, Daniel Burton claims the problems of capitalism are due to government action, and asserts the solution is "real capitalism" ("Protesters Stand For Wrong Principles," Sept. 28). Maybe we should look at "real capitalism," capitalism as it was born in rural England in the late Middle Ages.

Large landlords forced small peasants off their farms and enclosed land that was owned by no one. Most of the inhabitants were forced to leave, the rest were hired as wage laborers to work on the enlarged estates. These new mega-farms were run as businesses, competing with each other to make a profit by minimizing costs and maximizing output. The people forced off the land flocked to towns, where they were to become the wage workers of the next stage of capitalism, the industrial revolution. All this amounted to a major social upheaval. The government was involved only when it was called upon to "preserve order," or use force against the peasants resisting the new order.

This social system spread worldwide. In this country, the land was enclosed, stolen from the indigenous population. The workforce was created out of enclosed European (and later, Latin American) peasants and Africans stolen right out of their homes.

Enclosed land and resources, and a large group of dispossessed people, who can survive only by selling their ability to work in return for a wage, are and always have been the pillars of "real capitalism."

Jeffrey Strahl
UC Berkeley employee

Health Services Are Best In State

Last week, columnist Suzanne Blais reprimanded the Tang Center (University Health Services) for its slow service, ambiguous prescriptions, inexperienced clinical staff, and general apathy toward students' health and well-being ("Tang, Heal Thyself!" Sept. 29). As a chairman of the Student Health Advisory Committee, I feel the need to respond in a timely manner to stem the kind of sensationalism that has been the bane of every university student healthservice.

I encourage students to come to the health services to see for themselves. What I encourage most is for students to take the time to fill out the blue comment cards. These cards are collected weekly and a summary is distributed to all the clinic supervisors and administrative directors.

One thing to note is that if you are displeased with the service you are given, make a note of the individual's name and identify them in your comments. This should increase the accountability, which, according to Blais, seems to be the main issue concerning students. The UHS takes many steps to make sure they are responsive to their students. Besides the comment cards, the health center conducts surveys of user-satisfaction and non-user surveys. They also periodically conduct focus-groups with parents and students.

Finally, there is the Student Health Advisory Committee that consists of students who sit on hiring committees, meet with clinical directors, and work on various projects to help broaden students' image of the UHS. To be honest, we are all fortunate to have a UHS that is the best, most cost-effective, and comprehensive student health service of the UC system.

Michael Chen

UC Berkeley student

Undergrads Make Great TAs

As a former undergraduate teaching assistant for Chemistry 1A who was a Social Welfare major as well, I feel that undergraduates taking Chemistry should rest assured in the competance and gui1dance of these "lesser qualified" or "lesser experienced" teaching assistants ("Undergrad TAs Under Fire," Sept. 29).

In my experience with the chemistry graduate students at UC Berkeley, all of them are extremeley intelligent, eloquent, and over qualified to be teaching assistants. But, they lack the experience of having taken these courses. Undergraduate chemistry classes at UC Berkeley are vastly different from the courses at other universities. As a teaching assistant, I was able to use my experience of having taken the courses at UC Berkeley to help my students. I remembered exactly what the labs were like, the midterms and which concepts needed the most explanation and emphasis.

Furthermore, as a humanities major, this perspective helped me to approach this science from a humanities persepective, further enhancing my ability to break down a concept into easy to grasp explanations.

Finally, while there may be a few undergraduate teaching assistants who may be boring or inept, there are also a lot of graduate student teaching assistants who are even more boring and inept and apathetic about their teaching roles. There are even bad professors who do a poor job of teaching. Hence it is unfair to condemn all undergraduate teaching assistants just because a few are boring - we do not condemn all graduate student teaching assistants nor all professors. So rethink your position on questioning undergraduate teaching assistants. They are probabaly more caring and passionate than their graduate student counterparts.

Isaac Yang

UC Berkeley Alumnus

Students Deserve Quality Teachers

Undergraduate teaching assistants? Sounds a little like a Third World program - Each One Teach One ("Undergrad TAs Under Fire," Sept. 29).

Who's to blame? Probably not the administration, since they make do with what is given to them from above. I thought when we had corpoate and government interests buying out UC Berkeley, it was pretty bad, but this is even more dismaying.

Not that the students may not know their subject matter, but they are not trained as teachers. Undergraduate students who pay the enormous fees now required to obtain an education should be entitled to qualified teachers.

The problem isn't confined to UC Berkeley, or indeed to any one institution, but goes all over the country and all the way down to kindergarten.

In that utopia promised by the candidates of both political parties, perhaps teachers will get the pay and respect for their profession that they deserve.

Lorene Stranahan

UC Berkeley alumna

Berkeley Needs To Clean Up

Berkeley people are very environmentally conscious, both on campus and in town ("Cleanup Encounters Noteworthy Waste," Sept. 20). But it amazes me to see how much litter is scattered around both the campus and the town - especially plastic and cigarette butts.

I helped at the coastal cleanup day and I think people should remember that plastic washed down the grates to the sea tangles and chokes hungry birds, animals, and turtles who can mistake it for food. Plastic is made from petroleum and stays around forever. And dogs, cats, squirrels, seagulls, and raccoons are good at getting into outdoor trash cans and fishing out trash, which ends up on the ground and causes more trouble.

Sam Stonergras

UC Berkeley alumnus


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