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November 21, 2005 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-11-21

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 21, 2005

OPINION

(Tbe Sirbiiatt 43u lg

JASON Z. PESICK
Editor in Chief

SUHAEL MOMIN
SAM SINGER
Editorial Page Editors

ALISON GO
Managing Editor

EDITED AND MANAGED BY STUDENTS AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN SINCE 1890
420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
We wanted this
one bad. It just
didn't go our way."
- Michigan quarterback Chad Henne,
commenting after Saturday's 21-25 loss
to Ohio State, as reported yesterday
by The Detroit News.

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Calling a crisis a crisis
CHRISTOPHER ZBROZEK BORN N TH°E US.A.

Ma r y a n n
Keller, a
h.< longtime
auto industry analyst,
criticized General
Motors's leadership at
an economic luncheon
last week for failing
to acknowledge the
crisis facing the com-
pany. According to the
Detroit Free Press, she argued that facing a cri-
sis publicly allows a company to better address
it: "The thing about a crisis," Keller said, "is
that it becomes clear that something needs to
be done immediately."
I read that and wondered when our state's
leaders will apply the same nugget of wisdom
to Michigan as a whole.
It seems that no one in Lansing is willing
to admit that the state's ailing manufacturing
sector just might be terminally ill. Increased
automation in factories, outsourcing and com-
panies' failure to adapt to foreign competition
have combined to slash the number of factory
workers in the state. Since 2001 alone, one in
four manufacturing jobs in the state has van-
ished, and Michigan has had the highest unem-
ployment rate in the nation for a good chunk of
this year. These job losses will continue; GM
and its bankrupt supplier, Delphi, are each look-
ing to shed about 25,000 blue-collar jobs, many
of which will come from plants in Michigan.
Delphi also provides a hint of what the man-
ufacturing jobs that remain will look like. Like
other auto suppliers, Delphi is being pushed to
meet the "China price." That effectively means
an end to the union wages that built Michigan's
once-solid middle class; Delphi somehow
expects the United Auto Workers to accept
wage and benefit cuts of about 60 percent.
Maybe Delphi workers will strike, hoping to
maintain their dignity if not their jobs. Maybe

they won't. Either way, the next round of con-
tract negotiations between the automakers and
the UAW in 2007 doesn't look good for those,
hourly employees - like my father - who
depend directly on the automakers to support
their families.
People used to say that what's good for GM
is good for America. With Michigan's econ-
omy so heavily dependent on the auto indus-
try, that saying's always had more significance
here. Now, however, guessing the probability
that GM will declare bankruptcy seems to be
the new parlor game on Wall Street.
The way around Michigan's increasing
inability to compete in the manufacturing
sphere, according to the new conventional wis-
dom, is the High-Tech Knowledge Economy.
By attracting, building and retaining a creative
and highly educated workforce in scientific and
service fields, the theory goes, the state can
thrive again in the age of globalization. I have
my own problems with this model - I don't see
how this knowledge economy will ever support
a broad middle class like industrial unionism
once did - but my econ major friends tell me
this is right, so we'll go with it.
The problem is that, as far as I can tell, no
one in the state is doing much to build this
High-Tech Knowledge Economy.
Take the Life Sciences Corridor, for
instance. In conjunction with the University's
Life Sciences Initiative, the LSC was supposed
to build off the state's research universities to
attract biotechnology firms. Silicon Valley is
to Stanford as life sciences were to be to our
state universities, I guess.
Except the funding for the LSC was cut and
then split between research in the life sciences,
homeland security and automotive engineer-
ing. Meanwhile, Michigan still has some of
the most restrictive laws governing stem-cell
research in the country.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm often appears to

understand what needs to be done. She name-
drops "The World Is Flat" author Thomas
Friedman when discussing globalization, and
she recognized Richard Florida's idea that the
knowledge economy depends on the so-called
creative class with her Cool Cities Initiative.
But she also keeps proposing cuts to higher
education funding, heedless of the need to build
a smarter workforce. Her idea to issue $2 billion
in bonds to attract high-tech firms was dead on
arrival in a Republican-controlled Legislature
obsessed with tax cuts. And will the Cool Cities
grant for a "microcinema" at the Michigan The-
atre make Ann Arbor any more (or less) cool?
Truth be told, though, Michigan's future
might not concern many readers of this paper.
Generally speaking, those who are able to
go to college aren't exactly in the market for
assembly line jobs. And even if it is true that
all sectors of Michigan's economy will be hurt
as the-manufacturing sector shrinks and Mich-
iganders have less disposable income - well,
statistically speaking, you won't stick around
to watch the state choke anyway. The speed
with which college grads take their highly
educated, creative minds and flee Michigan
after getting their diplomas gives our state the
distinction of being 47th out of 50 states in the
proportion of young people with postsecond-
ary degrees. Call it a brain drain, call it the
flight of the creative class - whatever it is, it
makes any effort to revitalize Michigan that
much harder.
So, to recap: The manufacturing sector is
dying, the state's leaders aren't serious about
building a replacement for it and the state's
best and brightest young adults are heading for
greener economic pastures.
That sounds like a crisis to me, and it's time
our leaders started treating it like one.

Zbrozek can be reached
at zbro@umich.edu.

VIEWPOINT
A case against MSA political parties

6

BY JESSE FORESTER
The recent election sweep by Students for
Michigan came as no surprise. A single party
has dominated our student government for
well over a year. In the weeks leading up to
the election it seemed as though everyone was
content with this situation - no new parties
emerged to challenge S4M, and the e-mails
that crowded my inbox led me to believe that
maybe these were just the best people for the
job. In the weeks since the election however,
it has become obvious that many are rather
upset with the current state of campus politics.
The problem has been characterized in terms
of student apathy and a lack of voter options.
Although these are credible concerns, they are
misguided. If elections are to be more worth-
while in the future, the solution is to eliminate
political parties from campus politics.
Student governments serve an important
purpose on college campuses. Student gov-
ernments act as liaisons between students and
administrators. Student governments organize
social events on campus, provide services and
generally work to promote the interests of stu-
dents. Unfortunately, these responsibilities are
not always fulfilled or appreciated. In a recent
letter to the editor ('U' not unique in its apa-
thy toward student government, 11/14/2005),

David Swedler points out two unavoidable
facts: First, students are going to be somewhat
apathetic about campus elections and second,
many people run for student office for purely
selfish reasons: resume boosts, the girls, etc.
While these problems are inevitable, they are
certainly not a reason to abandon student gov-
ernment all together. Instead of throwing our
hands up in the air as Swedler would like, we
should work to make our student government
better.
The current problems with the campus
political scene stem from an overwhelming
disincentive for anybody to do anything. There
is one party, and more or less, students don't
have to prove that they are competent or even
motivated to do anything after being elected.
Students run for office because they want a
title, not because they want to make change.
The most obvious issue is that of voter apathy.
The electorate at our University has quite lit-
erally regressed into the friends of candidates
who don't have something better to do on the
election days.
In order to correct these problems, some
have argued that we should actually increase
the number of parties. This possible solution is
problematic for a couple of reasons. Initially, a
new party would need the opportunity to form
and expand; the current stronghold of S4M

makes this emergence exceedingly unlikely.
Additionally, our most recent try at a multipar-
ty system - Students First versus the Univer-
sity Party - proved this approach is doomed.
Competition between the two only lasted for a
single election cycle. If elections are to become
meaningful and issue focused, we need to do
away with these parties all together.
The only good that parties do at this univer-
sity is give a couple kids an excuse to design
a T-shirt. Eliminating parties from the cam-
pus political structure would put the focus of
campaigns back on the ideas. If students are
competing against students, instead of par-
ties competing (or sometimes not competing)
against each other, the candidates running
would actually have to prove why they should
be elected and commit to doing something.
Similarly, voters would have some incentive to
actually listen to what different candidates are
saying and more importantly, reason to vote
because they actually wouldn't already know
who's going to win.
Ultimately, our student government isn't
large enough to operate without the constraints
of party labels, there's no reason our student
assembly shouldn't be able to as well.
Forester is an LSA junior and member of the
Daily's editorial board.

a
a

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Despite spin, Ludacris
show an unqualified failure
To THE DAILY:
I am sure everyone was struck by how
Michigan Student Assembly managed to lose
$20,000 in one night, but I was particularly
shocked that MSA President Jesse Levine
called an event with such a staggering loss an
"unqualified success."
No matter how you look at it, $20,000 is a lot

what Levine might say, a $20,000 dollar loss is
never a success. It is an unqualified failure - and
one that I believe warrants an apology.
Walter Nowinski
LSA junior
The letter writer was an at-large representative to
MSA's Budget Priorities Committee Appeals Board.
Fed-up student to create
alternative MSA party

the University: the Abolish MSA Spending Party.
This is no joke. In the next MSA election, I, along
with anyone who will join me, will be running for
student government on the platform of decreasing
funding and controlling spending with the end
goal of eliminating MSA discretionary spending.
I hope to make it so that MSA will never be able
to screw up again like it did with this last concert
and to let students keep their own money. I hope
this party will transcend traditional political affili-
ations, bringing together all students who want

Editorial Board Members: Amy Anspach, Reggie Brown, Gabrielle D'Angelo, John Davis,
Whitney Dibo, Milly Dick, Sara Eber, Jesse Forester, Mara Gay, Jared Goldberg, Ashwin
Jagannathan, Theresa Kennelly, Mark Kuehn, Will Kerridge, Kirsty McNamara, Rajiv Prab-

I

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