Students, faculty talk politics at Speak Out

Associate Professor Fred Schiff spoke at Speak Out on Wednesday and advocated the use of Keynesian Economics in US financial policy. | Naheeda Sayeeduddin/The Daily Cougar

Associate Professor Fred Schiff spoke at Speak Out on Wednesday and advocated the use of Keynesian Economics in US financial policy. | Naheeda Sayeeduddin/The Daily Cougar

Capitalism, the war in Afghanistan and children’s rights were just a few of the issues speakers discussed at Wednesday’s Speak Out event, hosted by the Fair Action Committee.

Held at the UC Satellite, Speak Out events are designed to raise political awareness among students and to gather support for the Fair Action Committee. Students and faculty were encouraged to attend and speak about pressing issues in their communities.

Brendan Laws, a sociology senior and the head of the Fair Action Committee, emphasized the importance of fighting societal injustices, specifically targeting the ongoing 10 year war in Afghanistan.

“There is a serious problem with invading a country that doesn’t have a lot to do with terrorism, if any at all,” Laws said. “Its not even where the terrorists are from. A lot of companies are vested in the war.”

Among the speakers was Fred Schiff, an associate professor at UH. His speech focused on the economy, with an emphasis on Keynesian Economics, a school of thought that supports a mixed economy in which the government and the public sector play a significant role.

“The whole idea of current economic policy supported by Democrats and Republicans is a mistaken repudiation of Keynesian economics,” Schiff said. “In the last 35 years, some people have gotten super wealthy, but 80 percent of people in the US have had the same minimum wage for 35 years. There is class conflict — and the upper class has won.”

George Reiter, a UH physics professor, discussed children’s rights.

“As a society, we tend to look at physical punishment as a method of correction. This is a part of what is known as ‘internalized oppression,’” Reiter said.

“Rules and regulations we feel we have to follow as a society. Let the playful child be.”

Other speakers included Don Cook, an activist with the Green party and regular at Speak Out events, and Dustin Phipps, the lead organizer of Occupy Houston, who talked about the need for more political action among young people.

“Communication and interaction are key,” Phipps said. “Getting together as a group promoting popular interest is key. It’s time to create our own media. Share ideas. Don’t ever be afraid to do that.”


  • Mr. Laws isn't correct in his claim that there were no terrorists in Afghanistan. It is widely known that the Taliban ,who were running the government, were sympathetic to Al-Qaeda's cause and allowed them to freely operate. We entered Afghanistan with the goal of eliminating the Al-Qaeda network and their use of Afghanistan as a base. We also said we would remove the Taliban from power and provide for the creation of a new Afghan government.

    While I do agree that we shouldn't have started a war over 9/11 and also agree that the entire situation has created a net-loss for the US, it is erroneous to say that there weren't terrorists (militant extremists). The situation regarding the military industrial complex is one that can be easily fixed by electing members of congress that will slash defense spending.

    • Hey Eduardo,

      That's true. I was attempting to make a point that the majority of the alleged perpetrators were Saudi, not Afghan, and that a lot of the US's actions in Afghanistan before and after the invasion can be characterized as terrorism, trying to elicit political change through the creation of terror through violence. I did this very sloppily yesterday, and unfortunately the author quoted the segment of the speech I least wanted quoted, but such is life.

      I think it is important to note the CIA's role in the creation of militant religious groups in Afghanistan, since it's pretty widely known that they funded and trained Osama Bin Laden's group in the 1980's to fight the Soviet Union, knowing full well their politics. This government has a long history of inciting violence in Afghanistan and other parts of the world.

      I also don't think new members of congress is enough. When we live in a country where military companies lobbying carries more weight than votes, we gotta get people in the street talking about it and protesting it to make real change. By the time someone gets to congress they've usually already been bought and sold a few times, so they'll do what companies tell them to.

      • Thanks for clearing that up. Your position makes much more sense now. I agree that we have acted in ways that are less than humane when trying to find solutions to the problems that exist in middle eastern nations.

        Lobbying powers have to change yes, but it won't happen. The citizens united ruling made it worse, the way I see it there isn't really one solution to this problem. We as citizens have to stand up and say that enough is enough. The forum in which you presented your thoughts is an excellent example of voicing critical opinion. I for one have had it with trying to decide between the lesser of who cares.

        Only groups and activities like these will be able to provide real solutions and change to our current government. Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and committed people can change the world. Why? It's the only thing that ever has.

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