I would like to thank Brenda Tavakoli and Teri Szynskie for their fine job of announcing and reporting on my presentation on the Economic Crisis in Asia. However, there is one small item that warrants correction to prevent something I said from being misunderstood.
It is correct as stated in Szynskie's article that I put blame on the deregulation of the financial sector (particularly in Korea) that allowed funds from international banks to flow into domestic banks to be lent out again for business ventures of rather dubious merit. The "opening" and "liberalization" of the financial institutions was often too rapid. But more important, it was done before there were other regulations in place including reporting requirements to give the system "transparency."
Most of the countries involved now have such regulations in place, including some, such as Malaysia, that have not turned to the International Monetary Fund. Whatever the regulations or lack of them, it was still less than prudent for international banks to lend to other banks without knowing to whom the money was going to be lent and the probability that it could be repaid. The currency crisis in Asia resulted, then, from private-sector transactions that lacked transparency. The irony is that the governments in these Asian countries had long been doing the things that everyone said they should: high rates of savings and investment, flexible labor markets and economies open to international trade. The policies were successful and won the praise of the IMF and organizations such as Standard & Poore. When they took the next step of liberalizing financial institutions, as was required for Korea in order to join OECD, they quickly found themselves in trouble. It is understandable, then, that some of the leaders of these countries thought that they were blindsided as they saw many years of hard-earned progress seemingly melting away.
Thomas DeGregori, professor of economics
I was appalled and deeply saddened by the homophobic and mean-spirited nature of Tate Williams' column about sex in UH bathrooms on March 11. In dealing with a potentially serious topic, why did Mr. Williams have to pepper his column with anti-gay and homophobic jabs?
Feeble attempts at humor do not make prejudice and gay-bashing any more acceptable than any other form of prejudice or discrimination. I was sickened by his joking that we should "put an 'f' in front of 'Aggie.'" Would we have thought it acceptable or even funny if he had made similar statements about replacing the "b" with an "n" in the word "bigger" when referring to African Americans? I think not.
Also, reinforcing stereotypes that the Fine Arts departments are full of gay people is just as offensive. It reinforces hurtful stereotypes and implies with an ugly, heterosexist wink that having many gays and lesbians in any department is funny. Saying any department at UH is full of any particular minority, and implying that there is something wrong with that, is blatant prejudice and is unacceptable. To suggest, for example, that the School of Pharmacy has a lot of Asians would also be reinforcing hurtful stereotypes.
On February 8, the New York Times Magazine ran an article by Alan Wolfe called "The Homosexual Exception." Wolfe's main point was that his research found Americans, while being very strict on themselves, are nonjudgmental about others. However, the one exception Wolfe found to this nonjudgmentalism is in the treatment of lesbians and gays. When it comes to homosexuality, a lot of Americans are willing to promote and accept prejudice and condemnation. This thesis was confirmed by Williams' column.
I say let there be no "homosexual exception" at UH. Prejudice against gays and lesbians is unacceptable, even when it is couched in humor. Gay bashing is hurtful and can be deadly. Don't let it get a foothold here.
Chris Kerr, graduate student in counseling psychology
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