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November 15, 1999 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-11-15

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 15, 1999

Ghb Btirigu t!Dilg

Welfare and drugs -A lesson in

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
daily. letters@umich.edu
Edited and managed by
students at the
University of Michigan

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editors

Making laws is by no means an easy
job. Legislators must make sure
that each law they draft and is complete-
ly fair, impartial and just. This often
proves difficult - especially when they

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the
Dailys editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily reflect
the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

allow stereotypes
and prejudices to
blunt their decision-
making abilities.
Just look at the lat-
est troubles of the
Michigan govern-
Last Wednesday,
a U.S. district judge
placed a temporary
stop on a month-old
Michigan policy
that makes drug
screening mandato-
ry for all welfare
applicants. Deemed
by the judge to be
"probably unconsti-


the ,

Airline competition would help students

But, in drafting the new regulation, the
Congress overlooked the little detail of
civil rights.
The legal issue with the screening
policy is that it lets the government to
invade a person's privacy just because he
has a spell of financial misfortune.
This is because, frankly, below the
20-percent tax bracket hardly constitutes
probable cause to believe that a person
gets high on smack every day.
After all, several studies have shown
that the rate of drug use among welfare
users is essentially no different than
among anyone else. In fact, of the people
tested under the law so far, only 8 percent
have tested positive for drug use: A cou-
ple potheads and crack users here and
Alongside the legal dimension of the
case, the whole welfare regulation points
to the problem of pervasive stereotypes
corrupting the lawmaking process.
Think about it: Welfare is only one of
the many forms of financial assistance
that the government provides. But the
government does not make it a point to
test people applying for other forms of
financial assistance.
Can you just imagine, for instance, if
the government all of a sudden began
administering drug tests to each student
who applied for college loans? (The cam-
pus shudders collectively.) A couple of
students - and you know who you are!
- would be out of luck. But, even worse,
most of us would get pretty ticked off
about the whole thing: Does our age, our
educational goal or our financial situa-
tion make us really likely to smoke
crack? Probably not.
Okay, maybe that doesn't convince
you. Then think about what would hap-

pen if the government tested your parents
or grandparents before forking over their
social security checks. Chances are that
we will not see that happening any time
soon. Somehow, these scenarios seem a
little ridiculous. But they are no less
ridiculous than the latest welfare policy.
if you think about it.
This latest law only survived because
it was based on false stereotypes. You all
know what I'm talking about: The black
welfare mother who smokes crack, the
convulsive junkie who is too addicted to
hold a job and the lazy guy who thinks of
a welfare check as a government-backed
voucher for a free dime bag. Had law-
makers looked toward statistics rather
than toward their preconceptions, they
would have found that these sorts of peo-
ple are relatively few in the welfare sys-
Most people are not on welfare
because it is "free money" or because it
ensures a constant supply of ganja. It's
usually because there's no better alterna-


W hat's your greatest fear? Death?
Taxes? Flying Northwest?
Unfortunately for many University stu-
dents going home for the holidays, travel-
ing on Northwest Airlines has been raised
to this standard of universal certainty.
Fewer than one in four flights out of
Metro are on another airline, leaving
many passengers with the dubious choice
of purchasing a Northwest ticket or wear-
ing out their walking shoes. The Wayne
County Executive's Office and Wayne
County Commission should open up the
airport to other airlines and foster the
kind of competition that we believe it so
desperately needs.
Northwest's recent tenure at Detroit
Metro has been dogged by disaster. A
pilot's strike last year shut down the air-
line for 15 days, disrupting vacations,
stranding passengers and mauling the
state economy. As many as 560,000 pas-
sengers were unable to complete their
travel plans, costing the state an estimat-
ed $323 million in lost worker wages,
tourism and business activity. Comerica
Inc. put the costs even higher, at $350
million for metropolitan Detroit alone.
And in January, as many as 5,000
Northwest passengers were stranded on
the tarmac for anywhere from two to eight
hours, lacking food, water and adequate
bathroom facilities. A number of
University students, including members
of the Michigan Marching Band, were
among those passengers trapped against
their will.
In contrast, passengers traveling from
competitive markets are more likely to
enjoy a comfortable flight. They experi-
ence less congestion when traveling than

do their fellows at hub airports, typically
spending less time parking their car or
standing in line. Service is generally bet-
ter than at hub airports, and alternate
flights are easier to get if yours is can-
celled. According to a June article in the
Wall Street Journal, delays are reported
as little as 10 percent as often as the
industry average. Fares in competitive
markets are 30 percent lower than compa-
rable flights from hub airports, on aver-
age. Competition saves passengers time,
money and aggravation.
Proponents of hub airports point out
dominant carriers are more likely to offer
nonstop flights to more destinations if
passengers can be funneled through a sin-
gle airport for connecting flights. This
frequency of service helped contribute to
economic growth in such hub cities as
Charlotte, Minneapolis, Phoenix and
Atlanta. International conferences that
stimulate the local economy are more
likely to take advantage of the conve-
nience of hub cities in planning their next
event, proponents claim, and businesses
are more likely to set up shop in a city
where travel is convenient and easy.
Opponents of hubs are quick to point
out that while putting all your economic
eggs in one basket may spur short-term
economic gains, it also holds that eco-
nomic growth hostage to the whims and
difficulties of a single carrier. Favorable
commerce can be shut off like water from
a spigot should a strike occur or the air-
line pack its bags for better pastures.
They doubt that restricting customer ser-
vice is worth the higher fares, the incon-
venience and the long waits on the tar-
mac. And so do we.

tutional," the law denies benefits to any-
one refusing testing as well as to any
users refusing to enter a rehabilitation
After all, proponents argue, no cost-
efficient government should dole out
dollars to support the vices of welfare
recipients. Just imagine, say the well-
compensated congresspersons, how
much more efficient the entire system
would be if all those consumptive little
serfs did not burden all the perfectly
righteous taxpayers with all their addic-
Superficially, this reasoning seems
cogent enough: The government should-
n't pay for a welfare recipient's drugs
because it will only make the person less
likely to move off the state aid program.

That is why most of the people who
wind up on welfare at some point receive
aid only for a little while before realign-
ing their finances and moving off the
program. But instead of looking at this
fact, legislators unfairly stigmatized all
people who earn below a certain amount
of money and are forced into getting aid.
Lawmakers need to devise a new way
to develop laws: Perhaps by basing them
on evidence, rather than on stereotypes.
Maybe then, they could actually do some
good for the welfare system. This is def-
initely preferable to expending energy on
a problem that doesn't really exist.
- Scott Hunter can be reached over
e-mail at sehunter1umich.edu.


' e
rs" :
M cW GaN; °''

Pdeceless donations
Students should support Blood Battle vs. OSU

The football team has its chance to
defeat the Buckeyes this weekend.
For two weeks, non-athletic students have
the opportunity to shed a little blood off
the field in the 18th annual
Michigan vs. Ohio State
Blood Battle. The competi-
tion kicked off Nov. 7 in
University residence halls MICI
and continues through Nov. N:.
19 in the Union.
SThe Blood Battle is a Nov.
competition sponsored by the.1-7
University and OSU chapters
of Alpha Phi Omega, a ser- N'
'ice fraternity, and the 9
American Red Cross. Set up -
in the Union this week, stu-
dents should find donating blood conve-
It only takes one pint to save up to four
lives. About 1,000 pints of blood are used
each day in Southeastern Michigan, and
crisis shortages are frequent. Nationwide,
blood is in short supply. Hospitals prefer
to keep a three-day supply of blood avail-
able, especially for emergencies and
blood transfusions. Due to the blood
shortage, especially in Southeast
Michigan, hospitals must ration them-
selves to a one-day supply. Such a dan-
gerous alternative could affect doctors'
decisions regarding large procedures. The
Red Cross relies on emergency drives to
replenish blood stores and without
enough donations, it imports blood from
another region.
rr - - - -1 -- _ - * I-- - -L -- _ I

Donors are checked for diseases or abnor-
malities that could make them ineligible
in a confidential pre-screening procedure.
There are no health risks, as new, sterile
instruments are used for each
ATE .. person and the Red Cross
THE volunteers are well-trained.
.Additionally, after donating
[GAN blood, donors are replenished
ON. with free juice and cookies.
The Red Cross requires
S-18 that donors are older than 17
years of age, weigh more
than 110 pounds and recom-
19 mends eating a healthy meal
7. £ before donating.
OSU has many more stu-
dents, and has won the battle
for the last six years, so every eligible
University student should give blood. The
majority of students fulfill the require-
ments for potential donors, and everyone
should be able to sacrifice the mere hour
it takes to make such an important dona-
The blood battle is an excellent way
for University students to help save lives
and gain a victory over Ohio State in the
process. The results will be announced
during half-time of the Michigan vs. Ohio
State football game on Nov. 20. The win-
ner receives the "Blood Drop" trophy.
Falling just before the holidays, when
community blood supplies often drop to
critical levels, the battle is a fun and com-
petitive challenge between old rivals that
also benefits an important cause. To

'M' fans should buy
MSU game tickets
Attention all Maize Ragers, today, Nov.
15, tickets for individual home basketball
games go on sale at the athletic ticket office. I
am writing to encourage all Michigan basket-
ball fans, including those who who are already
season ticket holders, to purchase tickets to
the Michigan State game, Feb. 1.
I have been a season ticket holder for four
years now, and I'll be honest, the quality of
basketball I've seen in that time has been
something less than one would expect from
Michigan. Despite this, I have always been
proud to support our team, but never have I
been more embarrassed with my school than
when I attended the "home" game against
Michigan State last year. The 4,000 or so MSU
fans that were present that night literally took
over the arena, booed our team over the rest of
our cheers and basically made Crisler a home
away from home for the Spartans.
The reason MSU was able to do this was
simply because no one bought tickets last
year, and seats that would otherwise have been
occupied by Michigan students weretaken by
a Michigan reject (hence, an MSU student).
That is why I'm asking my fellow Maize
Ragers to step up and buy a pair of student
tickets to that game. Of course I have season
tickets as well, but I do plan to purchase tick-
ets to that game if only to keep one or two
more State fans out of the arena (believe me,
they will already be sending enough fans with
the normal visitor ticket allotment). Do what-
ever you want with the tickets, give them to
relatives, friends ... throw them away if you
want, just don't give them to anyone who
plans on wearing green and white to that
game. I'd much rather have empty seats that
night than see them filled by Spartan fans.
For your school, your team and your fel-
low Maize Ragers, spend a few bucks to keep
the State fans out of Crisler Arena this year. I
can't think of a better way to support the bas-
ketball team than to deny an MSU fan a
chance to go to that game.
Rogers's bill may
help him next year
It is unfathomable to the reasonable thinker
that state Sen. Mike Rogers (R- Brighton) dare
show his face on our campus. Rogers' career in
anonymity has been given a shot of publicity,
as he is the author of the infamous Senate Bill
306, which John Engler recently signed into
law. This law, the reader may well know, will
require all Michigan voters to match their vot-
ing addresses to those found on their driver's
licenses, beginning April 1, 2000. The stated
purpose of this bill is to cut down on voter
fraud, though little evidence of current fraud
Seemingly benign, Rogers' sinister bill is
actually designed to dilute and diminish stu-
dent voting. Rogers, you see, is running for

es do not match their campus addresses (and
whose do?) will have to drive home on a
Tuesday, or vote absentee - both unrealistic
options. Many students will simply not vote.
I will not guess what Rogers is doing on
our campus save pandering to a minority of
conservative students who one day hope to
follow in his footsteps to a world in which the
voices of young people do not matter. I write
not for fear that someone on campus will take
him seriously (students are perceptive, after
all), but for fear he judges his visit here suc-
Facts support labor
activists' argument
TheDaily article on Nov. I1 presented the
libertarian views of Ohio University
Economics Professor Richard Vedder. Vedder
asserted that sweatshops have played a role in
many developing countries and he also said
that governments should not restrict develop-
ment in countries like Indonesia where gar-
ment workers earn 15 cents an hour.
Vedder, who made a number of false his-
torical and empirical statements, erroneously
assumed that Students Organizing for Labor
and Economic Equality and other anti-sweat-
shop activists are asking the U.S. government
to enforce a worldwide minimum wage. But
after hearing the cold hard facts about the anti-
sweatshop movement, Vedder expressed his
agreement with SOLE's demand that the
University and companies using our logo enter
a voluntary contract with provisions including
full public disclosure of factories, women's
rights and a living wage. He learned that
SOLE is in favor of investment and develop-
ment, but against the paying of misery wages
to children and young women.
Under close scrutiny of the economics of
sweatshops and the policies that United
Students Against Sweatshops and SOLE are
asking universities to adopt, Vedder conceded
to virtually every point that anti-sweatshop
academics and activists offered on last
Wednesday night. SOLE members picked
apart Vedder's unsupported economic claim

firms would take a loss in profit and not pass
on the increased labor costs to consumers.
4) Consumers and firms will also ben-
efit - since a better paid workforce will
produce higher quality garments and at a
faster rate - economists call this effi-
ciency wage theory.
While conservatives often accuse progres-
sive activists of making only moral arguments
and not pragmatic economic -arguments,
SOLE showed last night that our policy sug-
gestions to the University make sense within a
centrist-to-right neo-classical economic frame-
work. SOLE cares about workers rights, eco-
nomic development and sound economic poli-
cy. We should all continue to ask the critical
questions, because facts, not hyperbole, will
guide us to the correct and just outcomes.
Mascot would help
Crisler Arena's fans

After scanning The Michigan Daily and
Tipoff '99 (11-11-99) I have repetitively read
articles discussing a site I too have witnessed
far too many times at Crisler arena - a lack of
fans. As a season ticket holder, I keep on
dreaming that each game will finally be the
one where a multitude of fans appear to sup-
port Asselin, Vignier and the rest of the
First off, why doesn't this University
have a mascot? Most smaller, lesser known
schools have a mascot that parades around
on campus and at sporting events motivat-
ing the crowd, turning everyday fans into
wild, rabid fanatics. A simple task like
dressing up an enthusiastic student in a
stuffed wolverine costume can do wonders
and can only lead to one thing -needed
Next, all we need to do is look at the
Spartans and what they have done at the
Breslin Center to get fans involved. Coach
Tom Izzo has created the "Izzone" in which
students cheer loudly and erupt with excite-
ment during the games. It is easy to see that
Brian Ellerbe wants students to be involved
by reading his letter to the Daily. Why don't



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