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December 12, 2001 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-12-12

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, December 12, 2001

OP/ED

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420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
daily.letters@umich.edu

EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SINCE 1890

GEOFFREY GAGNON
Editor in Chief
MICHAEL GRASS
NICHOLAS WOOMER
Editorial Page Editors

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

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
C CHe has a huge
job - huge - and
he's only 25. Yay,
good contact."
- Diana Davis, staff assistant to Rep. Mike
Rogers (R-Mich.) on Ryan Thomas, who works
for the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Davis was featured in an article in this month's
issue of Vanity Fair on socializing and other
ways to rise through Capitol Hill.

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A clump o' cells but not universal healthcare?
NICK WOOMER BACK TO THE Wi.OOM
T he Christmas sea- can already see a conflict a-brewin'. If I have are against abortion at any point in the preg-
son isn't easy for property rights to, say, a piece of pizza, that nancy, this is a moot point.
those of us on the means I can do whatever I want with that Therefore, to be consistent,,.our laissez-
secular left. On the one piece of pizza so long as it does not conflict faire-loving pro-lifer either has to seriously
hand we find ourselves in with anyone else's rights. I can eat it, I can rethink his or her conception of property rights
the midst of this awful give it to a homeless person, I can just let it sit or he or she has to join the Satanic legions of
orgy of consumption and around and watch mold grow all over it -- it's pro-choicers (bruhahahahaha!). I tend to think
commercialization. On the my decision, and I am under no obligation to that people who take generally principled
other hand, the capitalistic choose any particular method to dispose of my positions like being pro-life would be more
revelry at least distracts piece of pizza. If you take my piece of pizza inclined to drop their allegiance to property
people from paying too much attention to the away from me without my permission, regard- rights.
bogus spiritual fantasy that acts as the sup- less of how noble your motives are (feeding When you think about it, however, the pro-
posed impetus behind "The Most Wonderful the homeless for example) then that means life conception of property rights is probably
Time of the Year." you have violated my property rights. going to look pretty radical Here is a position
So it's at times like these that I like to The problem for pro-lifers who believe in that says that even that which we have the
spread my personal confusion by revealing a strict conception of property rights is that a most solemn claim of control over (our body)
some uncomfortable contradictions I detect in woman's body must function in the exact ought to be confiscated (at least for nine
people who are ideologically aligned with two same way for them that my piece of pizza months) for the good of another. Following
of my very favorite political positions: The does for me. She is free to use it as she pleas- this logic, then, it would seem that the needy
hard-core, right wing, laissez-faire property es, and she is under no obligation whatsoever also ought to be able to confiscate those things
rights advocate position and the hard-core pro- to use it to help anyone else, even if it would which people have significantly less solemn
life position. Guess what? You can't be both. keep a cute li'l clump o' cells alive. control over (like discretionary income, inher-
Still, there are a lot of people who think Of course, the laissez-faire pro-lifer might itance, etc.) for the greater good. A consistent
you can be - for examples think aspiring try to argue that, by having intercourse, a pro-lifer, then, ought to be clamoring for at
Christian Mullahs like Jerry Falwell and Pat woman implicitly accepts the possibility that least all of the features of the traditional wel-
Robertson and most mainstream, tow-the- she might become pregnant, and that in doing fare state (universal health care, unemploy-
party-line Republicans. Here's why you can't so, she enters into some sort of contract with ment benefits, access to education at all levels,
be a pro-life strong property rights advocate: any potential zygote whereby she promises to etc.) since he or she must accept the premise
Let's start by granting (I think wrongly) bring it to term. This would, however, be a that property rights are flexible in the pursuit
the pro-lifers one of their principal points - pretty strange contract, since every contract of the greater good.
that a fetus is a person in the moral sense. That that I'm aware of requires that both parties It's worth noting that a lot of pro-lifers
is, fetuses are entitled to all of the moral con- enter into it voluntarily and an "unwanted already realize this and act accordingly in the
siderations society usually accords to anybody pregnancy" is, by definition, not voluntary. political arena. That said, many (probably
else. The only way I can see this argument most in this country) do not; if they're going
Let's also assume something that almost working (maybe) is if it applied some sort of to be such staunch opponents of "murderous"
everyone who believes in the free market statute of limitations on the decision to have institutions, they'd be well advised not to pick
agrees with - that property rights actually an abortion. This would apply to cases where, and choose which ones their consciences tell
exist. It follows from this that if anyone is if a woman doesn't decide to terminate the them to oppose.
capable of having a "right" to own anything, it pregnancy in so many weeks/months, she
ought to be his or her own body. implicitly enters into a contract with the fetus Nick Woomer can be reached via
With these two premises established, we to bring it to term. However, since pro-lifers e-mail at nwoomer@umich.edu.
Y LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
N pah have tattoos, is this really the image that we Maybe this picture would have been more
want to publish to the world? Not to mention appropriate for the Arts or Weekend, Etc.
unprofessionalism the fact that this paper featured the farewell pages of the Daily.
honors for our departing president ... what an JAMEs DALE
lack of taste issue for him to have to archive! LSA junior
The picture, while I feel its content too
unseemly, could have even been better taken.
To THE DAILY: We certainly didn't need the photo artist
Thanks for producing one of the best col- to use the "nipple-cam" approach to his sub-
lege newspapers in the nation. I normally ject; I really did not want to wake up to see
enjoy reading the Daily and catching up on some guy with two little bullet things in there .U'E.E..... 'n.HER wi Ti.,
world events. as a piercing.-E OR AGAU4ST U
I did not, however, appreciate the photo In general, I found the picture distasteful.
on the front page of Tuesday's Daily Furthermore, I am sure that it would have
("Needlework"). The photo, featuring some been relatively easy to find a picture of some- tERRAL VIGILENCE.
guy getting a tattoo across his chest, has no one getting a tattoo on his/her arm or some- COMRADRS,
place on the front page of the newspaper. thing like that, if the photographer was really
While I hold nothing against those who bent on getting a tattooist on the front page.
Y VIEWPOINT
Get off the bus ... and on a train

BY JEREMY MENCHIK
According to the Detroit Free Press, in 1945
Detroit's transit system carried 492 million rid-
ers, most on electric trolleys. In contrast, some
70 million use Detroit's public transportation
system today and have only one choice: Buses.
Why? In 1932 and 1936 General Motors (in
collaboration with Standard Oil, Firestone,
Mack Truck, and Phillips Petroleum) formed
two private companies, United Cities Motor
Transit and National City Lines in order to buy
urban streetcar lines, tear them up, and substi-
tute buses the company manufactured. Between
1936 and 1956 National City Lines bought, dis-
mantled, and replaced 100 electric rail systems
in 45 cities with buses. Detroit was among the
places National City Lines targeted.
In 1949, the U.S. found G.M. and their
cohorts guilty of anticompetitive behavior
under the Sherman Antitrust Act. What the
court called a "criminal conspiracy" proved to
be a splendid business investment for the perpe-
trators. G.M., Standard Oil, Firestone, Mack
Truck, and Phillips Petroleum have since real-
ized hundreds of billions of dollars in product
sales connected with motorized transportation.
It seems these same business interests are
up to their usual schemes, this time with the
support of The Michigan Daily ("Connect
Metro Detroit," 12/11/01). By advocating the

Coalition, sponsor of a study beginning a pro-
ject for increased public transport and pushing
the Rapid bus system. There are neither envi-
ronmentalists nor local businesses involved in
MAC. MAC is not an accurate representation
of the community riding the buses but rather
serves the needs of businesses benefiting from
construction and maintanance of the system.
The real negative effect of Rapid buses is
the infrastructure - roads and pavement.
Keeping Michigan's overcrowded roads in
decent condition is an expensive process and
the federal govermnent discourages spending
on highway infrastructure. Real money from
the federal government, according to the Michi-
gan Land Use Initiative, is in rail. Policy Direc-
tor Arlin Wasserman notes "since 1990 the
Federal government has shifted away from
chiefly automobile to rail funding. Within the
pool of federal dollars, rail has gone up and
roads have gone down. Instead of going after
the rail money like many progressive states,
Michigan decides each year to go after a
shrinking pot of road dollars."
Michigan is the nation's eighth most popu-
lous state yet last year the state received less
than one percent of $2.6 billion in federal fund-
ing for bus and rail. Detroit spends only $19 per
person on public transport while San Francisco
spends $139 and Cleveland and Pittsburgh
spend $70 to $80 per person. With rail-based
tranrn''t_ Michiean cain ve~t more federal funds

Detroit to Ann Arbor, Pontiac and Mt.
Clemens. A 1997 study by the Michigan
Department of Transportation (MDOT) found
that the rail system would serve 19,000 passen-
gers a day, with 14 daily trains on each line,
and would cost only $23.4 million to operate
annually. This is in comparison to $1.3 billion
needed to widen just 11 miles of I-94. Accord-
ing to MDOT, a commuter rail system in
Southeast Michigan would create nearly 2,500
jobs related to building and operating the rail-
system. In addition it would generate $1.1 bil-
lion in economic benefit while enhancing
business values and property values throughout
the region. A 1999 study by Cambridge Sys-
tematics, a transportation-consulting firm, esti-
mated that every $10 million of capital
investment in public transit creates more than
300 jobs and a $30 million boost in local sales.
The commuter rail system would reduce
congestion on Detroit's overburdened high-
ways while the Rapid bus system worsens the
problem. Yet the state continues to proceed
with plans to widen, extend, and improve
existing roads rather than rail. Why? Accord-
ing to a study in October 1998, lobby groups
including Automobile Club of Michigan Polit-
ical Action Council, Michigan Road Builders
Association PAC and Michigan Trucking
Association PAC contributed more than
$730,000 to state politicians. The highways

4

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