Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

32° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Wertz: Will Obama doom DM?

Down-trickling, tax-cutting, luxury-jetting economic policy – all adieu! Everywhere the death knells clang for Reaganomics. Thursday’s New York Times could not have been more clear: “The budget that President Obama proposed on Thursday is nothing less than an attempt to end a three-decade era of economic policy dominated by the ideas of Ronald Reagan and his supporters.”

So what does the fall of Reaganomics mean for Northwestern? Other than students whose families make more than $250,000 each year, is there anyone here who stands to lose? Dance Marathon, that’s who.

There’s little denying that DM and Reagan’s neoliberal economic policy go hand-in-hand. The President drastically cut federal funding for social programs and called instead for reliance on private, philanthropic solutions. Dance Marathon, founded just 5 years prior, was ready to be just that. Thirty-three years and $9 million later, DM stands as a testament to the failure of Reagan’s ideals. Each March we witness the power of well-intentioned individuals, acting in their own self-interest, to do a marginal amount of good.

You could call me cynical. Or, you could read the DM Web site’s argument for “Why Dance in DM?”, which starts off with “It looks great on a resume,” and takes a broader perspective: $9 million may be a lot of money, but $400 million, roughly the amount by which Obama pledged to increase the National Institutes of Health’s funding for cancer research next year, is a lot more.

If President Reagan was ever right in saying “government is not the solution to our problems. Government is the problem,” then the inverse must also be true. There is a new dictum, whose acceptance throughout America is evidenced in bankers’ daily groveling at the Treasury Department and the astronomical approval ratings for President Obama’s budget proposal: Unbridled self-interest is not the solution to our problems. Unbridled self-interest is the problem.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s response to Obama’s Congressional address made clear that the Republican Party still does not understand this. But does DM? Jindal offered the American public a story of how individuals attempted to provide relief to one-another in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and how the government stood in the way. To support Dance Marathon’s continued preeminence in NU’s social activism scene is to accept the Reagan/Jindal argument that the private sector is capable of providing for virtually all of society’s needs.

Government assistance and private contributions can certainly coexist and compliment one-another, but if NU students are serious about wanting to provide relief for their sick neighbors, they must accept the basic reality that their assistance is meager and insubstantial compared to what we, through our government, are capable of. Such a realization will invariably lead students to reprioritize their extracurricular values, a shift that could lead to the decline of DM.

SESP senior Jake Wertz can be reached at [email protected].

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Wertz: Will Obama doom DM?