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February 03, 2005 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-02-03

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, February 3, 2005


1e £tuu &dIu

Editor in Chief

Editorial Page Editors

Managing Editor


We've been a
black eye on the
landscape of America
for too long."
- Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick,
expressing optimism that Detroit is
a rebounding city, as reported yes-
terday by The New York Times.


-BANKS AME. tc,4 r
15 Coot
W A U.S.

Our future plight

ast evening's
State of the Union
address was a
major opportunity for
President Bush to push
his plans for some form
of Social Security priva-
tization. In response to
the speech, there will
certainly be quibbles
over whether the cap on the amount of tax-
able income under the payroll tax should be
raised or whether the retirement age should
be increased beyond currently planned
increases. Amid protests from Democrats
that there is no crisis for the program and
debates among Republicans about how
best to finance the inevitable transition
costs of the Bush plan, a debate of much
greater significance is not taking place.
This is a debate that pits two adversaries
- the young, including future genera-
tions as of yet unborn, versus the current
and near-term beneficiaries of the federal
government's old-age insurance mechanism
- against one another and where those that
have the most to lose don't have a chance to
express their opinions.
This battle plays itself out time and time
again in American politics, and the results are
almost uniformly identical: The young lose.
Baby boomers make up a sizable and influ-
ential chunk of the electorate, and they wield
even greater political power through their
positions in the government. The political
underrepresentation of the young will always

promote the tendency to overlook them, but
you would think that voters would have more
concern for their future descendants than they
currently display. Young people's low level of
political participation is the simplest explana-
tion for their lack of influence, but the prob-
lem is more fundamental in the sense that the
interests of future generations will always be
heavily discounted when compared to today's.
And if the belief in reincarnation were ever
to become more widespread in the United
States, maybe we would observe a more even
distribution of government resources among
young and old.
In his four years in office, Bush has created
a mess of long-lasting problems with his take-
no-prisoners approach to Medicare. Bush's
positions on Medicare are particularly out-
landish for a self-styled fiscal conservative.
While some type of supplement to Medicare
that allowed seniors to get needed preven-
tative care was certainly necessary, Bush's
desire for a budget-busting partial solution,
which will cost about $8 trillion over the next
75 years, was misplaced. Bush didn't merely
lend lukewarm support to this boondoggle;
he touted the bill as a signature accomplish-
ment of his first four years in office. It's also
worth remembering that Bush's lieutenants
in Congress used the extraordinary maneu-
ver of holding up voting on the floor of the
U.S. House for three hours to ensure that the
prescription drug benefit would pass. Bush
poses as a champion of primary and second-
ary education, but these efforts are trivial
when compared to the torrents of govern-

ment money he has poured into programs for
the elderly.
At every level of government, this battle
plays out to similar effect. Take the Califor-
nia ballot initiative last year that approved
a $3 billion bond issue to finance stem-cell
research in the state. For the most part, any
medical advances that emerge from this proj-
ect will be tools to alleviate the suffering of the
aged. Sure, some children with chronic mala-
dies are likely to benefit from these research
investments at some point in the future. But in
a state suffering from a disastrous long-term
fiscal outlook, the profligacy of borrowing
$3 billion for a stem-cell program is stun-
ning. Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger has unveiled a proposal to
scale down the amount of funding going to the
state's K-12 educational system. The unreal-
ized benefits of this research will help future
generations, but in a time when the education
of today's youth is endangered, these cumber-
some expenditures are nonsensical.
Public policy entails a series of tradeoffs".
These are usually hard tradeoffs where the
costs and benefits of a certain action are
uncertain. The cost of promises made to
our parents and grandparents have to be
weighted against the needs of future gener-
ations. Over and over again we have made
the expedient choices, repeatedly ignoring
the trouble these choices will create in the
Peskowitz can be reached
at zpeskowi@umich.edu


SAFE event presented an
alternative path to peace
Speakers Omar Halawa and Basher Tara-
bieh presented an alternative vision to peace
between Israelis and Palestinians at the Stu-
dents Allied for Freedom and Equality's Pal-
estinian Real World event this past Monday
night. Their views were clearly motivated by
a desire to build a more egalitarian and demo-
cratic world. While according to polls, the
majority of people on both sides of the conflict
prefer a two-state over a one-state solution, it
was exciting to hear their ideas. As a Jewish-
American peace activist, I have spent much
time working on issues related to the conflict,
both in Israel and in the United States. I know
many people who have suffered because of the
conflict. Still, I feel it is important to focus on
common ground and signs of hope. I've seen
Jews and Arabs playing hacky sack in the cen-
ter of Tel-Aviv, enjoyed coffee from hospitable
strangers while lost in Majdal Krum and wit-
nessed Naomi Chazon and Yasir Abid Rabo
share a joke. I'm ready for peace. I want to

thank the participants and planners for a great
event. The Union of Progressive Zionists sup-
ports a just, two-state solution to the conflict.
We also welcome and work to foster discussion
on all paths to peace.
Ilan Brandvain
LSA senior
The letter writer is a co-chair of the Union of
Progressive Zionists.
Our rights are being
stripped by people with
independent agendas
I wholeheartedly agree with the Daily's
position that our basic freedoms are in jeop-
ardy (The first freedom, 02/01/2005), but along
with the conclusion that apathy and ignorance
are root causes, I would like to add bias from
our educators and politicians.
It is in a politician's best interest to take
power whenever the opportunity presents
itself. Thus, we have the Patriot Act - a def-
inite attack on our right to assemble, to speak

and to privacy. The McCain-Feingold Cam-
paign Finance Reform Act attacks our right to
speak freely. It is in the citizens' best interest
to be ever vigilant against these attacks. Be
very wary when fear, like that coming after
Sept. 11, rears its head in our society.
A couple of years ago, my daughter was
in a high school civics class. They spent
less than a week covering the Constitution.
I had her read to me, from the text book,
the amendments to the Constitution. At the
Second Amendment, the book stated, "The
right of the states to form militias." Not
only are the educators editing the Consti-
tution, they are interpreting its meaning to
fit their own prejudices! Whose interest is
being served here?
I expressed my concerns to the teacher and
his reaction was to blink at me like a toad in
a rainstorm. Was this from ignorance? Was
it from bias? Neither is acceptable.
Our rights are special and unique. It is our
duty to protect them from the likes of George
W. Bush, John Kerry or whoever thinks they
know best how to live our lives.
Earl Milton
The letter writer is a University employee.

The promise of a generation

The other day I was conversing with a Mich-
igan alum from the 1960s. He asked me if there
still were a number of student activists advocat-
ing the workers' revolution. I told him that prac-
tically no students continued to sow the seeds
of revolution among the proletariat. To my
great surprise, the alum - a venture capitalist
- responded that it was unfortunate students
no longer took such a bold and ideal stance. I
stared at him, dumbfounded, wondering why a
venture capitalist would lament on the student
activists' acquiescence to capitalism, when it
hit me and I too felt some sadness.
The venture capitalist and I are not social-
ist revolutionaries, and the point of this view-
point is not to defend the tenets of the workers'
revolution. The point is to discuss why it is now
ignoble to advocate such a utopian politic like

discussing the world. For the express purpose
of bettering humanity, students actively sought
a social and ethical responsibility to each other
and the world at large. Students rallied together
around grand ideals and then acted locally to
protest injustices and raise awareness. Then
somewhere further along the way these students
married, were employed, had children and the
zeal for idealistic utopian politics disappeared.
"Responsibility" and the "demands of modern
reality" combined with the subsequent failure
of socialist and other utopian societies to con-
vince the baby boom generation that idealism
is not compatible with realism. I'm not claim-
ing that the responsibilities the baby boom gen-
eration undertook were not worthwhile, or that
utopian societies did not fail, but I am saddened
the students of the 1960s seemingly abandoned
their idealistic utopian politics for the status
The baby boom generation's forfeiture of

divisive ideologues and pragmatic piecemeal
legalistic solutions - see the pro-affirmative
action and gay rights campus movements.
The power of idealistic utopian politics lies
in its unifying hope and promise to fundamen-
tally change the reality of our society into an
ideally perfect place for all. Idealism can be
substituted for reality because the "demands of
modern reality" consist only of what we con-
struct them to be. We need not forsake our ide-
alism to meet the "realities" of the "real world."
If we supplant or incorporate our utopian ideal-
ism into our "reality," then our idealism will
become "the Real." Furthermore, idealistic
utopian politics establish a promise for present
and future societies to fulfill. At the very least,
we may momentarily escape from what can be
the bitter harshness of "reality."
So in a world with its idealism seemingly
lost and for a generation that never seemed to
have it - let us please use our college expe-



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