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April 08, 1997 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-04-08

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 8, 1997

420 Maynard Street.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 JOSH WHITE
Editor in Chief
Edited and managed by
students at the EditoralPaEditor
University of Michigan EiaPgdt
Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the Daily's editorial boan. All
other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily
Clean illreas health
Program should increase health care options

'I've always experienced the U of M as an
exceptional place to be gay. But I can tell
you Its not always been that way.'
- University alumna and Lesbian Gay Bisexual Programs Office employee Laura
Sanders, during a panel discussion to celebrate LGBPOs 25th anniversary
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rips to the doctor's office can be
unpleasant. Paying for the doctor's bill
can be worse. A pilot program brought to
the Washtenaw County commissioner
would combine the resources of the county
public health and community mental health
offices, the University Medical Center and
M-Care, a University health management
organization. Together, the units would
work to provide better health care services
to low-income citizens. The pilot is a step in
the right direction toward solving health
care problems for Washtenaw County's low-
income residents.
The pilot program would provide care for
more than 7,000 citizens suffering from
physical or mental disorders. The State
Department of Community Health and the
County Board of Commissioners must
approve the program before it can take effect
on October 1. The program's effects would
benefit many low-income citizens and
should go into effect as soon as possible.
Finding adequate health care is often an
obstacle for citizens with limited financial
resources. Unless health insurance is pro-
vided by an employer, health care costs can
be prohibitive. Such hardships can be par-
ticularly brutal on low-income families try-
ing to make enough money to get food on
the table, let alone pay doctors' bills. There
is an obvious need to address th4 health care
needs of low-income citizens.
The program's combination of
University and Washtenaw County health
resources would provide citizens with a
strong health care system. Present Medicaid
programs can be a bureaucratic nightmare
for both doctors and patients, limiting the
number of doctors its recipients can see.
The new program will create a toll-free

number for low-income citizens, increasing
access to health care professionals. The pro-
gram would cut bureaucracy and provide a
comprehensive set of resources to support
low-income residents -making health care
a more viable option for financially
strapped citizens.
The program offers the University an
opportunity to share its vast resources with
the community. As the largest medical com-
plex in the area, the University's Medical
Center could contribute greatly to the well-
being of the county's residents. As a teaching
system, the University Medical Center
should reach out to the community. The
health care program is an excellent way for
the University to strengthen its ties to the
county while solving an important problem.
The program comes to fruition at an
important time. With federal health care
programs unable to handle the bulk of
health care needs, localities must come in to
fill the gap. However, the scope of the pro-
gram should not be limited; instead, the
pilot should show the strength of potential
partnerships between the academic and
governmental spheres. The program is a
good start and should be a stepping-off
point for future expansion.
For many county residents, a lack of
affordable health care prevents them from
receiving needed medical attention. The
new pilot program promises to quell many
of the problems and help thousands of peo-
ple get the medical attention they need. It
also should serve as a model for future pro-
grams. The University and county deserve
commendation for an inventive solution to a
major problem; they should continue to col-
laborate their efforts to expand health care
services for the area.

Driver's eat
Car rental industry must end discrimination

T he car rental industry just received
notice that age discrimination is no
longer tolerable. Last week, the highest
court in the state of New York ruled that
rental car companies cannot refuse to rent
cars to drivers solely because of age.
The car rental agencies' current policy
an industrywide practice for decades -
makes it impossible for drivers under the
age of 25 to rent a car. Rental agencies
claim that drivers under 25 are a high-risk
category, meaning that they have a higher
rate of accidents. For these reasons, if agen-
cies allow 18-25-year-old drivers to rent
cars, they risk exposure to greater liability.
The policy unfairly discriminates
against young drivers. Licensed drivers who
are able to hold contracts should have the
right to rent a vehicle. While some may cite
statistics that "prove" drivers under 25 are
more likely to be involved in an accident --
justification that insurance companies also
use to increase rates for young drivers -
this is neither a valid nor fair explanation
for why a responsible young adult should
not be allowed to rent a car. Many individu-
als under the age of 25 have full-time jobs,
some of which require business travel. Age
discrimination in the car rental industry
hinders drivers' ability to fulfill the require-
ments of their jobs, as well as impeding
recreational travel.
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution
requires that states grant "equal protection"

under the law. In the last 40 years, federal
and state governments have sought to pro-
tect that constitutional right with countless
statutes and regulations. Private businesses
are not immune to the constitution, and no
adult should be denied access to those facil-
ities simply on the basis of age.
A stipulation in the New York state law
allows car rental companies to charge dri-
vers under 25 years of age higher rental
rates. Because car rental companies have to
pay insurance premiums just like private
drivers - and insurance is higher for the
18-25 age bracket - an increased rate
could be justifiable. Across-the-board
denials are not.
With increased technology, car tental
companies have customer driving records
available almost instantly. Rental agencies
reserve the right to use these records, sup-
plied by state Motor Vehicle Departments,
to turn away drivers at the counter. If rental
companies look to protect themselves and
their inventory as effectively -as possible,
they should extend the record checks to
younger drivers and eliminate minimum-
age requirements.
As the policy stands now, car rental
companies are denying responsible drivers
the chance to rent a car only because of
their age. The New York State Court of
Appeals' decision should prompt other
states to ban age discrimination in the car
rental industry.

Thanks to
North Campus
As a first-year student in
the University, a great many
things have been very new to
me. One of them is simply the
experience of living on North
Campus. There are a few peo-
ple in particular who I want to
thank for always being there
with a smile and for making
me proud to live there.
The first is Sherry
Sundling, the manager of
Bursley Dining Services. She
truly cares about the needs of
the students and she address-
es them daily. She called me
personally once when I had
written a complaint. In gener-
al, the food in Bursley is top-
notch, and I credit Sherry for
being an integral part of this.
The next person is known
to the Bursleyites as none
other than "Sexy Grandpa."
This man is dedicated to his
work and always serves food
with an energy that I have yet
to see in very many other
people. His dedication is
wonderful and anyone can
tell that he really cares about
those he serves.
The final person is one
whose name I don't even
know at all. But anyone who
takes the Bursley-Baits bus
regularly would instantly rec-
ognize that "Good morning!"
as they walk in the front door.
I know him as the "good
morning" bus driver. He
makes every effort to see that
he personally greets and sends
off each bus passenger. This is
dedication. Not only does he
put energy into his work, but
he expects none in return.
If Sherry, Sexy, or Good
Morning are reading, thank
you for just being who you
are. You all mean a lot to me.
missed facts
I am writing in response
to Zack Raimi's column dis-
cussing marijuana legaliza-
tion ("Legalizing pot would
wreak havoc on society,"
4/3/97). Raimi argues against
the legalization of marijuana,
claiming that marijuana is
dangerous, and would "erode
order and stability." I couldn't
possibly disagree more.
Raimi starts off by stating
that he refuses to address the
issue of marijuana's potential
medicinal uses. This isa wise
move on his part, inasmuch as
it would likely serve to invali-
date much of his argument.
Ma :in .. ana is .. :,all.. .al.,

Raimi's argument that the
uncertainty of marijuana's ill
effects is due to "what little
researchers know" about the
drug is somewhat correct.
However, at the same time
the federal government
argues that too little marijua-
na research has been done to
merit claims of its beneficial
uses, it also refuses to allow
research to be conducted.
Raimi also cites a study that
found that marijuana use
resulted in "intense anxiety,
panic attacks, or paranoia."
Those effects can occur, but
are dependent on the user,
much in the same way
Ritalin, which is a stimulant,
will actually calm someone
who is already hyperactive.
Raimi also puts forth the
standard argument that mari-
juana is a "gateway"drug, and
users will then move on to
harder and more dangerous
drugs such as heroin and
cocaine. When one considers
that the number of marijuana
users is far and away higher
than the number of heroin and
cocaine users, the gateway
argument becomes less signif-
icant. It may be true that hero-
in and cocaine users started
with marijuana. This does not
mean that all marijuana users
continue to those harder drugs.
Raimi invites us to call
him "moralistic," and that's
exactly what we should do. We
should also call him "hypocrit-
ical," for Raimi does not call
for the banning of tobacco and
alcohol, both of which are
more dangerous than marijua-
na, and are also physically
addictive, something that mar-
ijuana is not. Raimi, if you
oppose marijuana use, that is
your right. But if alcohol
and tobacco are legal for oth-
ers to use, then the more
benign marijuana should also
be made available for people
to choose to use or not to
use. Not everyone smokes
cigarettes, and not everyone
drinks. But everyone has the
right to make that choice. It's
time to legalize marijuana
and stop imposing an outdat-
ed set of morals upon society.
Protest did
not achieve
group's goals
As one of the students
who was present at last
Thursday's welcome reception
for University President Lee
Bollinger, I was a bit per-
turbed by the LUCha protest
that broke up the party. Don't
get me wrong - I thought
the protest was cute. I thought
Bollinger handled the situa-
tion very well. He did the
pacts h a tdit . ar

wishes could have been better
served if they had protested
another meeting. LUCha was
rightly dissatisfied with with
Bollinger's appointment
scheduling process. He is a
hard man to get in touch with
and his calendar always seems
to be full. But by disrupting
Thursday's reception, the
members of LUCha robbed
other students of the chance to
meet with the president and to
express their concerns to him.
This was one of the few
forums where students repre-
senting all types of groups
were supposed to have had the
chance to welcome our new
president and share with him
their wants and needs.
Bollinger has regularly
scheduled meetings with the
regents. He meets with big
donors, members of the fac-
ulty and high-ranking admin-
istration officials. Frankly,
those meetings are probably
much more important to him
than the little reception that
LUCha decided to disrupt,
and they may be more effec-
tive settings for groups like
LUCha to get the "guaran-
tees" that their protest
demanded. More students
would be likely to support
LUCha's complaint about
lack of accessibility if
LUCha had not chosen to
disrupt a meeting that was
one of the few chances for
students to meet with the
University president.'
Bollinger's reign has just
begun. He has expressed an
interest in the wants and
needs of students. His meet-
ing with the 10 student
groups who were worried
about his comments in The
New York Times is a good
indication that he will work
with students and be attentive
to our wants and needs. But
all student groups need to be
respectful of other students
and respect their right to
meet with the president.
Abortion wait
is similar to
gun control
I just finished reading
Kerry Thompson's letter
("Abortion law is insulting to
women," 4/4/97), and it
sparked a question within me
concerning another issue.
The Supreme Court has ruled
that a woman has the right to
choose when it comes to
abortion. The 24-hour
mandatory waiting period
would seem to delay the exer-
cising of that right.
So what does this say
about the one-week waiting
period before someone may

The Great Stini.
Then and now
TIn 1858, London was racked by one
~of the most disgusting environmen-
tal crises in modern history. Thanks to
the excesses of industrialization, pl-
lution was at an all-time high; giant
factories belched heretofore unseen
and unsmelled - quantities of cru
into the air and water. In addition
industrial pollution, the mass migra-
tion from the countryside to the city
created giant
urban slumse-n
these slums gener- ~
ated literally tons
of pollution and
waste, which
stretched public
waste manage-
ment resources
beyond the limit.
In short, environ-
mentally careless SAMUEL
businesses were GOODSTEIN
having a field day G mAND
while┬░ burgeoning ILLUSION
urban populations
were helplessly adding to the mess.
The result: The Great Stink.
The putrid odor in London got so
bad that Parliament decided to tao
action; people were literally becoming
ill in the streets because of the stench.
But what could a legislative body real-
ly do about such a malodiferous
dilemma? Not much, unless they were
really willing to take on businesses
and clean up urban neighborhoods.
Without this action, they would just
have to wait until the smell went away,
or until people got so accustomed to it
that it didn't bother them anymore.
Why, you ask, do I recall The Gr
Stink? The answer is simple: As I read
yet another troubling newspaper
account of the questionable behavior
of our national leaders, I couldn't help
but think that Washington, D.C. is suf-
fering from its own version of The
Great Stink. Washington smells terri-
ble, and the plan is not to clean it up
but to wait until everybody gets used
to it again - eventually we will,
everybody will stop worrying. Sha
behavior in the White House, shady
behavior in the Speaker's Office, a
corrupting campaign finance system,
hyper-politics at the expense of good
policy, hyper-policy at the expense of
good policy - all of these things, and
more, make Washington smell worse
than it has in quite a while. But don't
expect things to change any time soon;
in Washington, change very oftn
requires a scandal (Watergate), a cap
strophe (The Great Depression) or a
war. We have none of those, yet, so the
smell will probably continue to waft.
Let me offer a few suggestions
regarding how politicians could cleanse
the air surrounding our nation's capital:
No. 1. Campaign-finance reform:
This is the no-brainer of the year, on
two counts. One, it is a no-brainer that
the system is terrible and should
changed. Soft money makes a mo'
ery of presidential campaign laws and
the need to raise money turns congres-
sional candidates into money-grub-
bers. With this system, it is no surprise
that scandals abound. It is also a no-
brainer that a great many members of
Congress will stand in the way of true
reform because it goes against their
interests; the system serves incum-
bents well, so most incumbents don't
want to do anything. Congress sho
close the soft money loophole for
presidential races, place large restric-

tions on independent expenditures,
initiate public financing for congres-
sional races and encourage networks
to provide free air time. These changes
would smell very nice, indeed -- don't
count on them.
No. 2. A responsible budget agree-
ment: By responsible, I mean a budget
that does not lower taxes (taxes here
lower than almost every other industri-
alized country) - programs must suffer
due to budget cutting, but don't elimi-
nate the savings through tax cuts.
Responsible also means adjusting the
consumer price index - which adjusts
benefits for inflation - to a more real-
istic level. Responsible also means own-
ing up to the fact that Social Security
and Medicare need to be means tested,
regardless of the wrath of the senior
izens lobby. Finally, responsible m
protecting the few remaining social pro-
grams that help the poor and scrutiniz-
ing corporate welfare policies.
No. 3. Re-opening the welfare bill
- whether this is done through the
budget or not -and changing the law
that prevents legal immigrants from
receiving benefits.
No. 4. Coherence on foreign policy:
Clinton's foreign policy successes ar*
house of cards; a house that might soon
collapse. The Middle East peace
processis deteriorating and the United
States has yet to offer a clear vision.
Our deadline for troops to stay in
Bosnia is approaching and there is no
coherent strategy for what to do when



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