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November 27, 2000 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-11-27

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 27, 2000

.,

he aiciguu Bai g

Capitalism and conscience face off

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

MIKE SPAHN
Editor in Chief
EMILY ACHENBAUM
Editorial Page Editor

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

'U' should commit itself to environment

he day after Thanksgiving I did some
damage at J. Crew, and driving home I
passed a woman digging through garbage.
Every day in Ann Arbor I pass a homeless
person, but Friday, with a pile of brand-
new sweaters and pants wrapped in the
passenger seat next_
to me, I felt like crap.f
Yes, it's holiday
shopping season andr
there's some privi-
leged white guilt
going around. Per-
haps I didn't wash
my hands after I used
my VISA last and
have caught a strain.
C o n s u m e r i s m
receives a lot of well- Emily
warranted backlash
around this time of Achenbaum
year. I dislike con- ,.,
Y - Diam>nd n
sumerism because R g
people buy things
thinking it will fill an
emotional void. I dislike consumerism
because we are wasting environmental
resources on products and packaging we
don't need. But consumerism is not evil. I
have hurt no one by purchasing a sweater.
. Let me clear something up: Money is
not bad. Money is green pieces of paper
and silver or copper colored coins. Even if
swallowed, it's pretty harmless. But money
has gotten itself a pretty mixed reputation.
Everyone needs it, but wanting it is "bad."
Ambition and success are admirable until
you start getting really rich, in which case
everyone starts hating you. Money's the
tall-dark-handsome soccer captain every
girl in school wants and when one of them

actually nabs him her friends call her a
slut. You can't win.
Capitalism, Microsoft, America in gen-
eral, McDonald's and Meijer all take flack
for What Is Wrong With The World. Big
corporations are easy to wag a finger at,
capitalism an easy scapegoat. Is it really
"not fair" that Ray Kroc took McDonald's
from a little family joint to the internation-
al heavyweight it is today, shutting out all
sorts of competitors along the way?
McDonald's is all things evil with the
world, some people say.
I have been trained to think without
question, Kroc is a capitalist pig. But then
I did question. It is not his fault that soci-
ety is economically stratified. On the sim-
plest level, all he did was make
hamburgers, and he did it better than the
other guy.
Capitalism is not why people dig
through trash cans. The person with the
most desirable product, the most efficient-
ly run business and most ingenious market-
ing plan deserves to be the most
successful. How is doing a better job than
someone else not fair? Whose fault is it if
the competition doesn't measure up - the
winner's? Did they ban Darwin from pub-
lic schools again?
With race and gender issues on the
social forefront for the past several
decades, people are terrified to say that
inequality is good or natural. But inequali-
ty is inevitable and people are lying to
themselves if they believe otherwise. At
times it is horribly unjust (like in the case
of race) - and in other cases it is not.
Some people are born to rich parents
and have opportunities handed to them.
That's not fair, but it's life. Others are

ambitious, and wealth is a side effect of
their ambition. Value judgments are made
on how said wealth was acquired - the
right way or the wrong way, with the addi-
tional argument that there is no right way.
Is being rich inherently bad? Since when
does being poor make someone good, more
wholesome, less selfish?
There is nothing wrong with making
money. There is nothing wrong with
spending money. There is something
wrong when some people do not have
money - not money for a cell phone but
money for food, clothing and shelter. How
dare I even eat when there are people who
cannot choose whether they're going to
have dinner or not? But starving myself
does not make either one of us better off.
Saturday while I was walking on State
Street, a man asked me for change. I usual-
ly say "no, sorry," but with a mouth full of
$3.50 cappuccino, I couldn't say anything.
I choked. Later that night watching Char-
lie's Angels, my friend nudges me and
says, "You have the same cell phone as
Drew!" as Ms. Barrymore plots with the
tiny ruby-red Nokia. I winced. I'm a bas-
tard.
Do 1 return the clothes, give away the
coffee? Idon't know how much responsi-
bility I have. I know that even if I did
everything, it wouldn't be enough.
I wish there were a way to make it liv-
able for everyone: For those who have
earned their wealth to possess it without
stigma - and for those without simple
human needs to be aided.
No one should have to beg. No one
should be penalized for success.
- Emily Achenbaum can be reached
via e-mail at emilylsa@umich.edu.

T his past Wednesday, was "Ameri-
ca Recycles Day," a national holi-
day dedicated to expanding recycling
efforts. The day, declared by President
Clinton and affirmed locally by the
Michigan Student Assembly, focused
attention here on campus on environ-

mental issues.
Although the Univer-
sity pursues a number
of ecological programs
and strategies in its cur-
rent operations, the
University's Mission
and Vision statement
does not mention envi-
ronmental issues.
Sustainable U of M,
ENACT, the Environ-
mental Issues Commis-
sion of MSA and more
than 250 students sup-
port an initiative to
convince the University
to adopt a concrete
commitment to envi-
ronmental sustainabili-
ty. The University has
already taken steps

RecyclingI
Go to wwwr
which lists rec
dence hallsa
buildings
Recycling
The City of
vides curbsid
paper products
variety of mate
sled at the cit
drop-off stati
Ellswoith Rd.
Phone:(734
Hours: Mo
a.n. to 7 p.m.
akm. to 5p.m.
Visit wwwl
bor og for mor

people and so many buildings, adopt-
ing a strategy to expand recycling and
efficiency campus-wide would signifi-
cantly impact the amounts of energy
consumed and waste produced by the
University community.
On a purely economic level, propo-
nents of the sustain-
'n CalPUS: ability initiative
ecycle.urnich.edu claim that similar
eptacles in resi- programs nationwide
and University save schools $17 mil-
lion annually. Pru-
dent investing in
)ff Campus: efficient technologies
Ann Arbor pro- today can save the
e collection of University money
and containers. A later.
rials can be recy- Finally, the Uni-
y of Ann Arbor versity should utilize
on at 2950 E. the enthusiasm and
expertise of faculty
) 971-7400 ext. 4 and students to fulfill
nday-Friday, 10 its obligation to take
and Saturday, 9 a leadership role in
this important issue.
.recycleannar- Many colleges and
e information, universities have
already adopted simi-
lar sustainability mission statements,
including Tufts University, Brown
University, Dartmouth, George Wash-
ington University and Carnegie Mel-
lon University. The initiative also
enjoys the support of Jim Christenson,
the director of Plant Operations and
state representative-elect Chris Kolb.
In order to codify and reinforce exist-
ing policies, protect the environment,
save money and act as an environmen-
tal leader, the University should adopt
a sustainability policy.

40

'I can personally tell because
I used to have a lot of them.'

- LSA senior and Scorekeepersfloorman Seth Greene on the origin of his
ability to discern the authenticity of patrons'IDs.

towards a commitment to sustainabil-
ity and should adopt a clear statement
and plan for sustainability for envi-
ronmental, economic and political
reasons.
The University currently has a large
recycling program - recycling bins
are readily available in all residence
halls and most University buildings
and public areas have special recepta-
cles for recycling newspapers, com-
puter paper, bottles and cans. Because
the University encompasses so many

.S. sign hot water
U.S. should sign Kyoto agreement

ronically, while countries worldwide
are pushing for the United States to
sign the 1997 Kyoto Treaty on green-
house gases, a lot of hot air is holding up
a finalizing agreement among the United
States and the European Union. For two
weeks in The Hague, the Netherlands,
both groups have been trying to end a
stalemate concerning implementation.
Rather than waste time hammering out
unimportant points in the treaty, the
United States should take the initiative
and ratify the Kyoto accords to show that
it is committed to combating the threat
global warming poses.
Scientists have shown convincingly
that without a significant change in lev-
els of greenhouse gas emission, tempera-
tures in the atmosphere will rise six to 12
degrees this century. This will cause sig-
nificant global changes including polar
ice cap melting, rising water levels in the
world's oceans and increased violent
storms. When faced with the prospects
of losing island nations to flooding and
facing hotter than ever summers, eco-
nomic squabbles are insignificant at
best, narrow-minded and irrelevant at
worst. Yet rather than accept the best
treaty yet proposed, the United States has
allowed petty squabbles to supercede the
most important fact: There is a need to
reduce the levels of dangerous gases that
contribute to global warming.
Some of the bickering has centered
around rather mundane issues when
faced with the prospect of minimal
progress concerning global warming.

amount of gases each country can pro-
duce under the accords and how much
green lands (national forests) goes
toward the final calculations may be
important in the long run. These issues,
prompting squabbles between the Unit-
ed States and Germany, express con-
cern over whether the United States
will pull its weight in the agreement.
But by indefinitely postponing an
agreement, the United States is only
adding to the problem it is attempting
to solve. If and when the United States
signs, other countries are going to fol-
low its lead. This makes our stalling
even more upsetting.
While some may argue against the
treaty on the grounds of national sover-
eignty, they must also realize that the
United States is currently involved in a
number of international organizations
(for example, the United Nations and the
World Trade Organization) that go above
Congress' head and work together
toward international initiatives. Rather
than resist and allow itself to keep pollut-
ing, the United States needs to take an
active approach and show that, as one of
the world's largest polluters, it is willing
to stop global warming.
While the United States stalls, we
continue to emit obscene omits of green-
house gases into the atmosphere. To
most effectively solve the problem at
hand, a functional treaty is needed
immediately. The United States should
stop its childish stalling, come together
with the European Union and sign the

Alcohol poisoning
does not jUst 'happen'
TO THE DAILY:
In response to the tragic death of Byung
Soo Kim, ProvostNancy Cantor stated
"This could happen to any student." I
would like to ask Cantor how this "hap-
pens"'to anyone.
Kim was not a passive participant in his
consumption of alcohol. This, by no means,
is to say that his death is not tragic. How-
ever, drinking 20 shots of whiskey does not
"happen" to anyone. People choose to con-
sume alcohol. Some choose to over-con-
sume. But alcohol poisoning doesn't just
"happen."
It only "happens" to people who drink
too much. I can appreciate the sorrow of
the Kim family, Cantor and this University,
but it should be made clear that drinking 20
shots and dying doesn't just "happen" pas-
sively, it requires active choice.
JOSHUA BENNINGHOFF
LSA SENIOR
Drinking age in U.S.
should be lowered
TO THE DAILY:
While I do feel bad that Engineering
student Byung Soo Kim died, I must dis-
agree with the notion that binge drinking is
"everyone's problem," as the Daily's edito-
rial "Enough is enough: Drinking is every-
one's problem" (11/21/00) asserts.
Binge drinking is the sole problem of
those who undertake in it. The notion that
"education" will somehow stop binge
drinking is ludicrous. 1 find it difficult to
believe that someone who has been walk-
ing the earth for 21 years is unaware of the
consequences of alcohol abuse.
The Daily does have one good point:
The drinking age of 21 needs to be elimi-
nated. It is asinine to suppose that someone
is responsible enough to drink on their
birthday, but not the day before.
How many people would choose to do
21 shots if alcohol hadn't been illegal for
their entire lives until that day? Further-
more, the allure of alcohol would disappear
to underage kids if they were no longer
underage.
Until then, be responsible for yourself,
and if you drink, do it in moderation. No

more funerals, please. There's too much to
live for.
JASON BURR
ENGINEERING JUNIOR
Not reviewing new
Backstreet Boys
album was 'asinine'
TO THE DAILY:
1 would like to voice my displeasure with
the CDs the arts section chose to review this
past Wednesday.
Choosing not to review the Backstreet
Boys' newest CD "Black and Blue" is not
only unprofessional, but also an insult to pop
music fans everywhere. Do the arts writers
find anything odd about not reviewing a CD
that is going to go platinum in one week? I
know, I know, pop music is not the Daily's
forte. They prefer bands who only play in
basements and snack bars. Regardless, pop
music is short for "popular" (imagine that)
and to not review what will undoubtedly be
the number one CD in the country for some
time, well, that's just asinine.
Are there millions of fans out there who

Sprint PCS service
'almost worthless'
TO THE DAILY:
I was pleased to see the Daily's article on
the front page regarding poor Sprint PCS ser-
vice ("Lawsuit alleges poor service in A2 for
students with Sprint PCS," 11/20/00). 1 signed
up for service approximately 6 months ago -
primarily as a means for my staff to contact me
as I attend meetings, etc. around campus. The
cell phone has been almost worthless in that
capacity. Not only is the service extremely
poor, but their customer support line is impos-
sible to get through.
AMY K. BROOKS
OFFICE OF DEVELOPMENT, ITD

were waiting and waiting for the "Hot
Caribbean Hits" CD to be released? Were they *
lining up at record stores across the nation to
get their own copy at midnight sharp?
So why review a CD that will sell 1,000
copies in its first week when there is a
superior one that will sell 1,000,000?

ADAM WILSON
ENGINEERING JUNIOR

.
.
x

DANE BARNES DISTURBED SLEEPJ
crI
(7 fREM
138

ter,
f
tates should retam the e

By Thomas Kuiurgis
Daily EditorialPageStaffer
Many Americans have been calling for the
abolition of the Electoral College. They argue
that their vote does not really count or that
not all votes are equal. They complain that a
candidate can win the popular vote and yet
lose the electoral vote. Certainly, oursystem
can he nrd-l A unforn allnot and count-

million would have little political signifi-
cance more than the nine million-person
population of Los Angeles.
While a popular vote would aid third and
fourth-party candidates, it is very likely that
nobody would win a majority. The president
would then have been elected by as little as
one-third of the nation A second election to
determine the winner with a majority vote

run the entire nation. A coalition of extrem-
ists spread across multiple states does not
have enough clout to propel their leader into
power. However, if all of their votes were
counted together in a popular vote, they could
succeed in an election where nobody wins a
majority. We need only look back as far as
1930s Germany where, through a popular
vote, the small Nazi Party gained control of

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