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November 06, 2002 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-11-06

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, November 6, 2002


ab lo irig~tau i ttirg


SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editor

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.

Let's reform
British politics, please,
but don't give us
anything like this."
- London Guardian columnist Matthew
Engel in yesterday's edition, suggesting
that the British not replicate the Bush
presidency in their own government.

CWe i'O54o c,rlie
f L

W4ell cd
y o 1+e.?

/ r7

1 B +le s w d "ed

tas+ea m! b d
a+ AshlIey's



A farewell to farms
M y home com- Washington and Oregon. Our local festival gra and Ore-Ida. No one factors in the negative
munity is locat- designed to promote our local crop has com- externalities of a disproportionate increased
ed in the pletely abandoned our local farmer. It's a pollution and pesticide use that monocultures
Northwest corner of somewhat humorous anecdote that would oth- and sprawling 10,000 acre factory farms
Michigan's lower penin- erwise be rather meaningless if it didn't also require. Small farmers aren't to blame for the
sula. For those of you serve as but one example of a trend towards 400-square-mile dead zone at the mouth of the
who know the area I live abandoning local small farmers. Mississippi river where the run-off from our
about 20 minutes north of Across the country small farms have been nation's breadbasket disgorges its bile.
Traverse City, in Suttons failing since the Grapes of Wrath. You can't It's more than just the cost. Small farmers
Bay. The area has two make a living as a farmer anymore. Every year are tied to the land. They breathe the air and
major claims to fame - tourism and cherries. more and more farms in Northwest Lower taste the soil. They are the real stewards of our
Each year, Northern Michigan welcomes sever- Michigan are parceled off and sold to real food; our neighbors that provide for us.
al million visitors as one of the top vacation estate developers. Every year farmers get deep- Unlike modern agri-businesses that are head-
destinations in the Midwest. Every summer, the er and deeper in debt. Farms aren't passed on to quartered in New York City, small farmers
region's cherry farms produce a crop so prodi- the next of kin anymore, they are abandoned live on their land and produce quality food
gious that Traverse City can easily lay claim to and left for subdivisions. that they are proud to eat.
the title of Cherry Capital of the World. These The small farm is dying and that's a bad The determination and hard work that
two industries drive the local economy and thing. Just like small businesses and mom and defines the small farmer has been glorified in
every summer the National Cherry Festival pop stores, small farms provide something our national conscience. That spirit that allows
brings the two together for a huge tourist that can't be replaced by big box stores and farmers to plant again after a failed crop seems
extravaganza designed to highlight our local factory farms. Contrary to popular belief, unbreakable. But I fear that spirit is failing.
crop. For more than 75 years the National small farms haven't been made obsolete by Watch the eyes of a farmer when the price
Cherry Festival has served as a celebration of better methods of food production. of cherries hovers around four cents a pound
the relationship between local farmers' harvests From an outsider's standpoint centralized when he needs about 17 cents per pound in
and our tradition as a tourist hotspot. food production seems to make sense. Giant order to break even. Watch the eyes of a farmer
But that relationship is fading. In an attempt farms have economies of scale and can pro- who dumped 100,000 pound of cherries on the
to attract more tourists, the festival has been vide huge amounts of cheap food. It's tempt- ground, knowing it's the only way to reduce
moved forward from its traditional August ing to say that the age of the small farner is supply and ensure a decent price on the market.
time, when the cherry crop had been harvested over. It's easy to say small farmers represent a Watch the eyes of a farmer forced to sell half of
and farmers had reason to celebrate, to the slowly dying traditional way of life that the farm that has been in his family for four
more lucrative Fourth of July weekend. Since should be phased out like horse-drawn bug- generations so that he can pay the bills. I've
the shift was made about 10 years ago, the Fes- gies and rotary telephones. seen it. It's happened to too many farmers that I
tival has grown in size to become one of the But it's simply not true. Centralized food know. And now it's happening to the farm I
largest in the country. However, moving the production is only cheaper because oil prices worked on every summer in high school. Our
Festival forward entailed a sacrifice. By July 4, are kept artificially low in this country, allow- small farms are dying, soon they will be dead
our local cherries are still green on the trees. ing food to be shipped around the country at and it breaks my heart.
But a festival designed to celebrate cherries practically no cost. Small farmers don't see a
requires cherries. In order to satisfy these penny of the billions in farm subsidies that go Jess Piskor can be reached
demands, Traverse City ships in cherries from out to huge agricultural businesses like ConA- atjpiskor@umich.edu.
M oore's 'Bowling' fails to in Milwaukee, two inner-city zip codes, 53204 any means necessary to protect their lucrative
and 53215, have homicide rates of 89.1 per industry of drug trafficking.
consider role of drug traffic 100,000 and 38.8 per 100,000, respectively, Moore's complete lack of discussion on this
compared with a homicide rate of 10.5 per topic is not only surprising, being that he is a
in gun death rate 100,000 for the state in general (The Wisconsin self-described leftist activist, but scary in that
assessment information manager. Milwaukee: many people will emerge from watching his
To THE DAILY: Wisconsin Department of Health and Family latest film ignorant of the most likely factor for
Michael Moore seems to argue that our Services, Division of Public Health, 1999.)." our nation's high gun death rate.
country's absurdly high gun death rate is a According to Massachusetts Libertarian JoN BoGUTH
result of our attitudes in Bowling For gubernatorial candidate Carla Howell, our LSAfreshman
Columbine, but he leaves out some crucial nation's homicide rate was about five per
information. He fails to note where our 100,000 before the prohibition of alcohol, then
nation's gun deaths occur - most predomi- rose to about 10 per 100,000 during prohibi-
nantly in the nation's largest cities - as tion, only to fall back to pre-prohibition num- THINK YOU COULD HAVE
well as an easily recognizable reason bers after it was repealed. Similarly, before the SAID IT OETTER YOURSELF?
behind the high gun death rate. prohibition of drugs, the homicide rate was five
According to Lee T. Dresang, MD, in the per 100,000, only to rise up to our current rate
Journal of the American Board of Family Prac- right now. Howell and many others argue that
tice, half of all gun deaths occur in the 63 it is the high-risk, high-profit atmosphere creat- SEND LETTERS
largest cities. On top of this, the majority of ed by drug prohibition that is the predominant TO TH EDITOR
these gun deaths were "'clustered in certain factor in our nation's high homicide rate,
neighborhoods (Wintemute GJ. The future of whether it is through guns, knives, baseball bats letters@mwCrgandaily.cor
firearm violence prevention: building on suc- or whatever. The end result is still ruthless,
cess. JAMA 1999;282:475-8.).' For example, extremely motivated criminals willing to kill by
This just in: Daily boycott 'lame'





So I, a token minority of yesteryear, leave the
Daily and it gets boycotted. It forgot to replace the
graduated minos with some more melanin, to pass
off the glorious chess board appearance that has
allowed the Daily to continue its subversive David
Duke agenda for 112 years. Silly editors!
It appears that some people have noticed the
editors' fatal mistake and decided to roll up their
sleeves and boycott a free newspaper. The genius
guiding minority students these days is over-
whelming, to say the least. I'm almost certain
Pizza House will stop advertising because of the
boycott - especially when plenty of non-white
faces keep showing up for some Southwestern
BBQ, hold the onions. I'm also almost certain that
the Michigan Student Assembly's support of the
boycott (surprise: MSA reps have their own
grudge against the Daily, which calls them out on
their pretentia on a fairly regular basis) will add
loads of credibility to this enterprise.
I was an associate editor of the Editorial Page,
which slightly confounds the notion that minorities
don't hold leadership positions at the Daily. As for
the insensitivity, toward minorities that have made
their way into print, I know that I have written
more than a few columns calling out white people

Daily. Suggesting that minorities need specific
programs just to get somewhere at a college news-
paper suggests that we really can't figure out this
reporting thing on our own. Are the minority
groups who signed on to this boycott sincere in
saying that minorities need to be "aggressively
recruited" for a college paper? Do we really need
one reporter stationed to every single minority
group? The former suggests we are too dumb
and/or lazy to walk through the door and the latter
suggests that everything minorities do is newswor-
thy and/or (an even sillier suggestion) that minori-
ties are incapable of being newsworthy based on
the merits of their actions. The demands made by
the boycotters make us all look like incredibly
weak characters to be pitied because we can't
stand on our own two feet. I am too proud of my
heritage and my uniqueness to supplicate myself
to the majority; what saddens me most is seeing
how quickly and easily other minorities are willing
to trade in their pride.
The second problem here is that the boycott
doesn't seem to address the real push-pull between
minorities and the Daily. I'm not naive (or blind)
enough to suggest that my years at the Daily
showed me a place fully bursting at the seams with
diversity. On a statistical level, it's true that the
Daily tends to look an awful lot like an episode of

Whatever flak the Daily gets on campus, it is
still a highly regarded college paper and is looked
at pretty seriously by national media outlets - and
whatever pomposity is associated with that (I
know that I took myself way too seriously when I
worked there), the editors are at least somewhat
justified in their desire to remain credible. I per-
sonally don't blame the Daily - in fact, I applaud
it - for guarding its reputation carefully.
Ultimately, what the boycott really serves to
do (and this, though listed third in the trifectus of
"Why the boycott is lame," is really the important
one, "the kicker," if I may be so colloquial) is to
divert people's attention away from serious inci-
dents of racism at the University and in society as
a whole. Mvlinority groups tend to splinter because
we get into this "us vs. them" mentality, where
even minor ethnic differences divide us (e.g. Puer-
to Rican vs. Dominican gang fights, North and
South Indian antagonism, Chinese, Indonesian,
Tibetan, etc. fragmentation) - and it is unfortu-
nate to see University minorities coming together
in such a rare show of support to attack something
as non-sinister as the Daily. It would be one thing
if some over-arching racial issues were simply
non-existent, in which case perhaps these groups
might get together to rumble with the Daily just
fr e Ba of a od it. ut asthere,-arra


i I


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