Notre Dame ReSources

Author: Dennis Brown

The following Notre Dame faculty are available for additional comment on these people and events in the news:

Martin Luther King, Jr. : Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday should be observed next week in the context of the entire civil rights movement, according to Notre Dame historian Richard B. Pierce II . “It seems to me that people conflate civil rights and Martin Luther King and vice versa,” he says. “The civil rights movement was much more than King. I understand the desire to herald him, but in some ways that is a disservice to the many other people ? black and white ? who worked on the front lines. There were a lot of people involved in the movement who have become mostly nameless and faceless. I would urge people to take the day to think about not just Martin Luther King, but civil rights as a whole.” Professor Pierce can be reached for further comment at *(219)-631-7191;
  • p. NBA : The agreement between NBA owners and players ends “among the most inept, profitless and absurd moves ever conceived in the history of professional sports,” says Richard Sheehan , a Notre Dame economist and the author of “Keeping Score: The Economics of Big-Time Sports.” “Ultimately, the question was over how to split $2 billion between approximately 400 players and 29 owners,” Sheehan says. “The discussions over the past few weeks were fundamentally over the percentage going to the players ? either the owners’ proposal of 53.5 percent or the players’ proposal of 56 percent. The difference between the two proposals is about $50 million, which is a small amount relative to the $2 billion total. Perhaps the best way to characterize the lockout was as a high-stakes game of chicken, with each side willing to risk $1 billion in revenue for the last $50 million, and with the entire game played in front of a less-than-sympathetic national audience.” Sheehan believes the league will recover from the labor strife, but not without some long-term cost. “The interesting question is whether fans will come back to the NBA with the same enthusiasm, and implicitly with the same financial commitment,” he says. “My expectation, based on other strikes in other sports, is that ultimately they will return but with a much more jaundiced perspective that will cost both sides dearly ? in fact, well in excess of that marginal $50 million each side was seeking.” Professor Sheehan can be reached for further comment at *(219)-631-5212;
  • p. Extra-solar planets : The first observations of extra-solar planets from a technique known as gravitational microlensing were reported Jan. 9 by two University of Notre Dame physicists, representing two international teams of astronomers, at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin, Texas. According to husband and wife team David Bennett , assistant professor of physics, and Sun Hong Rhie, research assistant professor of physics, the team of astronomers believes it has detected an extra-solar planet larger than Earth and smaller than Neptune orbiting a star near the inner disk of our Milky Way galaxy. The gravitational microlensing planet search technique differs from other techniques in that it is most sensitive to planets that orbit relatively close to their star, separated by their star anywhere from one to five times the distance of Earth from the sun. Professor Bennett can be reached for further comment at (219) 631-8298 and Professor Rhie may be reached at (219) 631-8297 .p. Social Security : A Notre Dame economist says the effort to privatize Social Security is a “profoundly bad idea.” Teresa Ghilarducci , in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, writes: “Social Security needs amending to prevent a projected shortfall. The causes of that shortfall are revealing in themselves: low pay and low growth. Yet, any amendments should enhance the best of our system with minimal cost, disruption and inefficiency. Privatization relies too much on stock and bond markets, makes the young pay for the two programs, worsens the Social Security deficit, boosts administrative costs from 1 percent to 20-30 percent and suddenly makes benefits unpredictable for more than 70 million workers.” She adds that a 1 percent increase in payroll taxes would solve any problems with Social Security for 75 years, while Wall Street would be the main beneficiary of privatization. “Wall Street stands to get 100 million new accounts if the system is privatized or partially privatized, earning billions in fees. Wall Street won’t make a dime if the system is preserved as it is.” Contact Professor Ghilarducci at *(219)-631-7581;

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