• What food says about us in an age of global elites

    In his most recent column, Suri examined the divide between local citizens and global elites, characterizing politics in a global age as “intensely local.”

    Food, to take just one example of the difference between haves and have-nots, is inherently political. There are several steps in between the seed and the meal, including production, distribution and consumption. A lot of people outside Austin dictate how Austinites eat. Food is governed by markets, trade, laws, lobbyists, climate change, Congress, the executive and the courts.

    At the same time, the broader politics of food are intensely local. The movement for organic, sustainable foods has become one of the upper middle class. Austin is home to a number of healthy, organic food vendors. But eating “real food” is expensive. Fresh vegetables are healthier than canned ones but come at a higher price. Shopping at Wheatsville is more expensive than shopping at Walmart. Because of these prices, sustainable foods are not accessible to everyone. Whole Foods has no Dollar Menu. Cheap junk food is readily available. This means that lower-income households are subjected to lower-quality foods.

    What makes this paradox dangerous is that food is an integral part of the local experience. Everyone eats food. The prices of food affect everyone. But not everyone can eat quality food and live “sustainably.” Quality food shouldn’t be a luxury for some and a lifestyle for others. This is a fundamental inequality that is present at each dinner table, grocery store and in each dining hall. Suri says that global politics reflect “local expression.” What do the divisions in our access to quality food say about us?

    Shah is a business and government sophomore from Temple.

  • Alcohol should be sold 24/7

    I have never smoked a cigarette in my life. If I did, however, want to take up the cancer-causing habit, as is my individual right in this country, I could walk to a nearby 7/11 — at 3 in the morning, if I so chose — and purchase a pack of Marlboros. If and when the day comes when I need to have my wisdom teeth removed, I will likely fill a prescription for Valium, Vicodin or some other highly-addicting painkiller at a pharmacy that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control, tobacco is the underlying cause of death for about 480,000 Americans every year. Abuse of prescription painkillers is responsible for roughly 17,000 additional Americans. Combined, this is nearly 20 times the estimated number of yearly deaths in the U.S. caused by alcohol. And yet, inexplicably, alcohol has indescribably more archaic restrictions and regulations.

    Well, not totally without reason. Southern states such as Texas were some of the strongest advocates for the disastrous Prohibition movement in the 1920s, which naively banned the sale of alcohol. When the country rightly disposed of this asinine experiment, Texas and other states retained blue laws that kept tough restrictions on the sale of alcohol, still — without justification — finding it to be some type of horrendous vice worse than the others such as smoking.

    Accordingly, still to this day, liquor may not be purchased after 9 p.m. on weekdays or at all on Sunday. Fortunately, a pair of bills in the Legislature have been introduced by power players to do away with these silly outdated customs, but they do not go far enough.

    House Bill 1634 by state Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, one of Speaker Joe Straus' top lieutenants, would allow liquor stores to open an hour earlier on Saturday, whereas Senate Bill 604 by state Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, would keep the stores open a little later each night. Both are good steps in the right direction, but they do not go after the core of the problem. Merchants of all stripes, be it convenience stores, grocery stores or something in between, should be able to sell alcohol all hours of the night and all days of the week.

    To deny this right would be to ludicrously pretend that alcohol is in a more deleterious position to society than cigarettes and other tobacco products, which is certifiably false. While the negative effects of alcohol in society are well known, they are miniscule compared to tobacco. And some people's — the vast minority of drinkers — poor decisions are not grounds for punishing all of society with inconvenient regulations.

    Horwitz is the senior associate editor.

  • Roundup should focus primarily on philanthropy

    Texas Kappa Delta hosted “KD Quesadillas” during RoundUp to raise money for its local philanthropy, Austin Center for Child Protection.
    Texas Kappa Delta hosted “KD Quesadillas” during RoundUp to raise money for its local philanthropy, Austin Center for Child Protection.

    This year's Roundup was huge, with more than 15,000 attendees in West Campus. Twenty-five hundred of those were non-UT students who paid $10 each for wristbands, bringing in $25,000 for IFC. Sorority-hosted philanthropy events raised $30,000.  

    These numbers are impressive, and the money raised will be directed toward separate philanthropies depending on the Greek organization. Yes, Roundup is a nuisance to a majority of the non-Greek population and proved troublesome to APD this year, but the event should not be so quickly discredited. Instead, emphasis should be placed on the good that will come from so many students and non-students alike contributing to charities by means of attending these parties.  

    Roundup has not been a University sanctioned event since 1990, when a series of racially charged incidents led to a dissociation between the two. Roundup was primarily a recruitment event allowing newly admitted Longhorns a chance to check out Greek life on campus. IFC and UPC put an end to that in 2013 and threatened large fines if any fraternity or sorority was found to be "dirty rushing."  

    So what even is Roundup anymore? It's no longer official or a recruitment event, so IFC and UPC should maintain and even intensify their focus on philanthropy. 

    Bounds is an associate editor.

  • 'Local control' is another Republican myth

    Lieutenant Governor-elect Dan Patrick beat State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte in the lieutenant governor race Tuesday evening.
    Lieutenant Governor-elect Dan Patrick beat State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte in the lieutenant governor race Tuesday evening.

    Attend any Republican political event throughout this state and you'll find a recurring talking point that really riles up the crowd: tyrannical overreach by the federal government against Texas. Fueled in part by distaste for President Barack Obama and in part by a neo-confederate love affair with all things "state's rights," the mantra of local control has become a rallying cry for the right in Texas. Medicaid expansion, marriage equality and immigration reform, according to these individuals, are just countless examples of said tyrannical overreach.

    The mindset behind this is flawed, but even a cursory look into the recent dunderheaded moves of the state legislature would suggest that — worst of all — it is totally hypocritical and built on a foundation of lies.

    Take Senate Bill 267, which the Austin American-Statesman recently reported was passed by the Texas Senate. It disallows municipalities from compelling landlords to accept Section 8 housing vouchers, something that does not match up with typical state precedent. House Bill 40, which overrules Denton's recent voter-approved ban on hydraulic fracking, recently cleared a house committee hurdle nearly unanimously, so reports The Dallas Morning News.

    Perhaps most egregiously, the legislature looks determined to pass one of the many so-called "Campus Carry" proposals, which would allow concealed handgun license holders to carry their guns onto college campuses, including this one. Everyone from the students, to the faculty, to the administration opposes this misguided proposal, and yet the state pushes on anyways.

    That is because the idea of local control is a myth for the modern day Texas GOP. They merely use it when it is convenient to them, in order to continue portraying Obama as the boogey man in order to race-bait to their increasingly hateful and out-of-touch base. When local control is inconvenient, as it is for cities or local universities that want to regulate housing, guns or the oil and gas industry differently than statewide officials, it is gladly lumped on the chopping block.

    Horwitz is the senior associate editor.