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March 29, 1985 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-03-29

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40

OPINION

Page 4

Friday, March 29, 1985

The Michigan Daily

WARM makes

good sense

*

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Vol. XCV, No. 141

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

Yes on Proposal A

he 20,000 Ann Arbor tenants who
pay for their .own heat will be
warm this winter if proposal A is voted
into law on April 1. Proposal A, or
WARM (Weatherization As Respon-
sible Maintenance), mandates that lan-
dlords who don't pay heating bills must
insulate, caulk, and weatherstrip their
rental units. By doing so, they help to
conserve energy; low energy consum-
ption leads to low utility costs for ren-
ters.
Landlords and others opposed to
Proposal A contend that government
imposed regulatory measures are
already too stringent. They are con-
cerned that Proposal A is only the
beginning of a long line of government
rules and stipulations that are costly to
implement, inspect, and maintain.
They further argue that landlords who
want to improve their property will
lose incentive to do so once they have
met the basic provisions of Proposal A.
So in place of WARM, adversaries
favor the City's Energy Voluntary Im-
provement Program, an informational
approach to poor energy management,
which compels landlords to study the
effectiveness of their current in-
sulation and to disclose heating costs to
prospective tenants. Under the Volun-
tary Program, landlords receive
recognition for maintaining energy ef-
ficient housing, or for significantly
improving their property to meet low
energy consumption standards. Lan-
dlords feel that this incentive, of
presenting prospective tenantsnwith
low energy housing, is enough
motivation..
Certainly, the Voluntary Program is
an excellent one, but is effectiveness is
is no way contingent on Proposal A.
The two programs are compatible. The

Energy Advisory Board, which
created the Voluntary Program,
realized that the low vacancy rate in
Ann Arbor rentals could negate lan-
dlord motivation' to improve their.
properties.
Proposal A is merely a first step in
the long run of home improvement that
the Voluntary Program advocates.
Landlords who wouldn't fill the
minimal requirements of Proposal A
on their own will be legally obligated.
Property owners who want to continue
iprovement will. Energy conservation
benefits may even motivate them fur-
ther.
Energy conservation is a serious
issue: we need to use our resources
responsibly without wasting them.
Today, Congress requires that cars be
made more energy efficient, but 15
years ago, there were no such
stipulations. Government enforcement
is the catalyst for responsible energy
conservation.
Measuring the energy effectiveness
of houses costs money but greater en-
vironmental costs need to be con-
sidered. Proposal A provides a simple,
standard, and effective effort for long
range planning to reduce energy
waste. Government regulation is
necessary to ensure that landlords
behave responsibly. Renters with
reduced heating bills will benefit from
weatherization inspection, just as they
do from the government ordered
safety inspectors who scrutinize Ann
Arbor rental housing.
WARM is only a small step towards
improving the energy efficiency of ren-
tal property in Ann Arbor, but it is a
step forward. On April 1, support
energy conservation, lowered heating
bills, and responsible maintenance.
Vote yes on Proposal A.

By Larry Fox
Proposal A on the Ann Arbor city election
ballot April 1 will require landlords, whose
tenants pay separately for heating fuel, to in-
stall attic insulation, caulk cracks, and
weatherstrip windows and doors by Decem-
ber 1, 1985. Some landlords oppose proposal A
for many spurious reasons.
There is no reasonable argument against
energy conservation; that being the case,
what are the objections to Proposal A? A few
landlords may argue that they are being
asked to bear the cost of energy conservation
by Proposal A, but that argument doer not
bear close scrutiny. Winterizing any building
increases its value and prolongs its life; ad-
ditionally, the cost of winterization is going to
be passed on to tenants. That does not,
however, mean that a tenant's cost of housing
is going to rise. The costs that are passed
on to tenants will be more than offset by the
savings in energy costs. Whether that savings
is actually experienced by tenants is a
decision that landlords will make. Landlords
may also argue that tenants waste energy by
leaving windows open during the winter,
leaving lights on, etc., but tenants have an in-
centive to conserve in that they ultimately
pay for the energy used. The only real objec-
tion to Proposal A is that it is mandatory.
There has always been, at least since the
ratification of the United States Constitution,
.a balancing between the rights of private
property and the rights of the individual.
Regulatory housing codes across the country
have grown out of the need to protect the in-
dividual or have grown out of landlords'desire
to protect their interests from competitors.
Limits on the height of buildings in Ann Ar-
Fox is a legal intern with Student Legal
Services.

bor, for example, means that it is more costly
to build multiple dwelling housing than it
would be without that regulation. The effect
this has is that it prevents somebuilders fromi
entering the market and reduces the
available housing, thereby causing the
vacancy rate in rental housing to be very low
and rents high. Almost every regulation has
mixed benefits. The limit on the height of
buildings, in addition to benefitting
established landlords, means Ann Arbor is a
more picturesque and pleasant place to live.
Similarly, Proposal A has mixed benefits for
landlords and tenants. Tenants will have a
more comfortable environment in which to
pursue their studies, landlords will have in-
creased value in their property and the entire
community will benefit from the conservation
of energy.
The only remaining question is whether
Proposal A, with its mandatory features, is
the best method of achieving the desired
results. In 1983 a much more comprehensive
winterization program was proposed as a
charter amendment. Approximately a month
before the election, the Mayor's Energy Ad-
visory Board proposed, ostensibly because
the '83 proposal was a charter amendment,
that the charter amendment proposal be
passed as an ordinance by the Council with
insignificant modifications. The '83 proposal
was defeated at the polls. After the defeat of
the proposal all movement toward passing it
as an ordinance ceased. In fact, although
there were many meetings in the intervening
two years, the Energy Advisory Board did not
announce any program until the petition drive
to put the current proposal on the ballot
began.
Will the Mayor's Energy-VIP program
achieve energy conservation? The Energy-
VIP proposed program includes public

education on the benefits of ,,conservation,
methods of conservation, identifying sources
of low cost funds for winterization, and a sur-
vey of Ann Arbor housing. The supporters, of
Proposal A also support these features of the
Energy-VIP program. Where we differ is on
the solely voluntary approach , to
weatherization. The incentive in the Energy- *
VIP program is the landlords' ability to at-
tract tenants with a plaque indicating that the
landlord has implemented some conservation
measure or measures in the building to which
the plaque is attached. The problem with this
incentive is that the landlord does not need to
attract tenants. Virtually every habitable
rental property in Ann Arbor is occupied. The
off-campus rental office at the University of
Michigan estimates the vacancy rate in ren-
tal housing at less than 2%. Landlords have 4
always had the freedom to winterize their
property voluntarily and many have done so,
because they realize that it makes good
economic sense. Many others have not win-
terized their property and the incentives in
the Energy-VIP program is no incentive for
these landlords.
The question then is what is the balance,
that should be made between the benefits of
conservation to tenants and the community'
and the rights of landlords in their private
property? Proposal A makes its terms ap
plicable only to landlords whose tenants pay
for heating fuel separately from their rent.
These landlords have no incentive what-
soever to winterize their property. The balance
we have made is to make the most effective
low cost weatherization mandatory for lan-
dlords' who have no incentive to winterize,
while leaving ample room for all landlords to
participate in the Energy VIP program.

Wasserman

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OK0

I

Letters
Sub-minimal wages for minimal work

Executive eloquence?

R ONALD REAGAN, the Great
Communicator, has been doing a
little bit too much communicating
lately. In plain English, the President
firmly placed his foot into an open
mouth with the senseless remarks he
made last week.
While the nation looked in hope to the
Geneva arms talks, Reagan seized
them as a chance to unleash one of his
many one-liners. He recently said,
"There's good news from Geneva,
Nancy. Your watch is ready."
The news from Geneva so far is that
the only watch which is ready is the
time bomb which continues to tick
towards a nuclear holocaust. More im-
portantly, the President's ill-conceived
humor on this topic relays a worldwide
message on his commitment tonuclear
disarmament.
The President has not limited his
"humor" to foreign affairs. Closer to
home, he showed a callous disregard
for struggling American farmers by
shooting off at a dinner, "I think we
should keep the grain and export the
farmers." More than likely, th'e far-
mers who worked hard to put the food
on the President's plate that evening

would consent to exporting him along
with the grain.
While commenting foolishly on these
topics, Reagan somehow manages to
ignore the travesties transpiring daily
in South Africa. While referring to the
Sandinistas as a "Communist Tyran-
ny," he remains silent on the racial
tyranny of apartheid in South Africa.
Perhaps the President will come up
with a racial joke on this topic suitable
for all nightclub routines.
The pressing issues of the day are
not the only topics Reagan addressed
last week. He also lent his wisdom to
misrepresenting the past. After decidi
ng against a visit to a Nazi concen-
tration camp the President reasoned,
"The German people have very few
alive that remember even the war, and
certainly none of them who were adults
and participating in any way."
The President himself was in his
early 30s during World War II. It is
downright frightening to think that our
nation's highest official could have
such a blatant unawareness of the
past. Unfortunately, he seems to be
demonstrating that very unawareness
at present, as well.

To the Daily:
Once again The Daily has
shown its lack of knowledge in the
field of economics. The Daily
editorial "Minimal Worth" of
March 22 is completely devoid of
any economic sense.
The first half of the editorial
bemoans the fact that a sub-
minimum wage would pay
teenagers less than adults and
thereby say that they "do not
have the inherent value to make
their labor worth the standard
minimum wage." The Daily, of
course, does not realize that this
is the whole problem. The reason
why so many teenagers are
unemployed, especiallygblack
ones who minimum wage was
supposed to help, is that they do
not produce enough to warrant
$3.35 an hour.
Since employees can only af-
ford to pay those who produce
what they are getting paid, they
do not hire teenagers or any un-
skilled employee who cannot
produce $3.35 an hour. Let us not
also forget that one reason that
many of the unemployed adults
are so unskilled is that they could
not get starting jobs as teenagers
becuase of the minimum wage
laws. If these people could have
had starting jobs at any wage,
they would begin to get the skills
needed to be marketable at a
higher wage. Is telling a teenager
that she is not worth $3.35 an
hour, but only $2.50, worse than
telling her that she is not skilled
enough tothave a job at all?
When the government, or a
union, mandatesra minimum
wage it inherently mandates a
minimum production level.
Those who cannot produce at the
inflated wage will not get hired.
The tragedy is that it is those who
cannot produce at $3.35 an hour
who need a job the most. Is it ex-
ploitation to tell someone that
they will get paid at the level they
produce? That sounds more like
the truth to me. If workers are
getting paid less than they

Thomas DiLorenzo points out
that "government... programs
only redistribute existing jobs."
Sure teenagers get employed, but
the cost of these programs throw
other workers out of jobs.
Job programs have to be paid
for somehow. The government
must either raise taxes, inflate,
or run a deficit. All of these have
negative effects on existing in-
dustries. A current employer
sees his profits falling due to new
taxes or higher interest rates. He
has to cut back, so he lays off two
or three. people. Many others in

the economy do the same. The
problem is that these people have
low-visibility. We see the
teenagers out on the job. The laid-
off workers do not know each
other and do not see that the,
cause of their lay off was the jobs
program. More importantly
voters see only the created jobs
and not the lost ones. This is why
job programs are so politically
popular. The benefits are clear,
all the costs are not.
The sub-minimum wage is a
first step in solving some of the
unemployment problem.

Abolishing the minimum wage
altogether should be next. For an
economy to function properly
people have to be paid what they
produce. If we pay them less, the
market will raise wages..,
If we pay them
more; we will get unemployment.
Jobs programs cannot help. They
destroy at least as many jobs a4
they create. It hurts to be told you
are worth less than what an adult
is, but unemployment and hunger
hurt far worse.
-Steve Horwitz

Students should crisp by credit hours

To the Daily:
The editorial in the Sunday
March 17, 1985 Michigan Daily
("A Kink in CRISP")
regarding the advantages (and
disadvantages) of the proposed
registration priority options that
students will have an opportunity
to support leads me to believe an
explanation of the credit towards
program proposal is necessary.
The purpose of any registration
priority system is to guarantee
that all students have equal op-
portunity to elect courses and
sections while enrolled at the
University.
The LSA Student Government
proposal of permitting seniors
and juniors to register in that
sequence followed by all others
addressed the problem juniors
have with the present
registration priority systemsbut
does not address the inequity
problem with class levels.
The proposal to give priority to
students to register according to
their credits towards program
permits the students with the
greatest need for access to cour-
ses to register first. The seniors
BLOOM COUNTY

with 115 credit hours towards
their programs should register
before seniors with 85 credits.
The juniors with 84 credits
(whose need for required courses
is as great as the seniors with 85
credits) should register before
juniors with 55 credits and so on.
If the registration priority
system is to be changed it should
be changed to give the greatest.

benefit to all students. The
proposal to permit students to
register by credit hours towards
program will accomplish that
goal.
-Douglas R. Woolley
March 25
Woolley is the University's
associate registrar.

Candidate supports rights

To the Daily:
I would like to correct any
mistaken impressions which may
have been created by your article
of March 14, reporting on a can-
didates' forum sponsored by the
Lesbian-Gay Political Caucus.
The article noted that many
candidates for City Council did
not attend the forum, and quoted
a member of the Political Caucus
who suggested that in the current
climate, some politicians might
be afriad to be associated with
gay and lesbian organizations.
I am a candidate for City Coun-
cil in the Fourth Ward. I did miss
the candidate forum, due to
unavoidable scheduling which I

sincerely regret.
I would like to state for the
record, however, that I fully sup-
port the efforts of gay men and
lesbian women to achieve full
social and political rights. No one
should face discrimination or
harassment because of his or her
personal lifestyle.
Ann Arbor is one of the few
cities in the nation to have an or-
dinance which prohibits
discrimination based on sexual
preference. If elected to Council,
I will support all efforts to have
this law fully and adequately en-
forced.
-Dave DeVarti
March 22
by Berke Breathed

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