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January 23, 2006 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-01-23

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4A -The Michigan Daily - Monday, January 23, 2006


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Editor in Chief

Editorial Page Editors

Managing Editor


We are in pain,
but we are also
angry, and this
anger will change
the future of
- Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.)
on the two miners who were found dead in
a mine Saturday as the result of a conveyor
belt fire, as reported on nytimes.com.



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Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All
other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their author.

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Shifting out of neutral


"Our challenge, today,
is to look forward, to find
the courage to make the
changes our own time
demands. So, I ask you
tonight to help build
Michigan's future with
me. Because the choice
F-we face is stark: Will we
let Michigan's economy
languish, or will we work
together to create the goodjobs our state needs? Will
we stand still, or will we move forward?" - Gov.
Jennifer Granholm, Feb. 9, 2005
After defeating Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus
in 2002, Granholm assumed the state's
top job just as the fundamental problems
with Michigan's economy were becoming evident.
By the time her 2005 State of the State address
rolled around, those problems were gaping holes
- swallowing tens of thousands of high-wage,
low-skill jobs. This year, as Granholm finishes
preparations for her 2006 State of the State (Jan.
25, 7 p.m.), these holes threaten her own security.
Granholm was once a rising star in the Demo-
cratic Party, and her GOP challengers have locked
onto her - they can smell blood in the water.
That's because she hasn't done anything
I'm not saying she's been ineffective. For three
years, Granholm has skillfully navigated the state
through successive fiscal crises. She's grappled
with the legacy of John Engler's enjoy-the-good-
times tax cuts without reversing them, and she's
managed to make Michigan one of the most
efficiently governed states in the nation. Some
accountant at the Ross school probably wants to

give her an award.
But, beyond balancing the state's checkbook,
Granholm hasn't accomplished any of her signa-
ture plans. Let there be no doubt -she has plenty
of economic vision. She wants to double the num-
ber of college graduates in the state. She wants
to make Michigan a high-tech hub. She wants to
make Alpena a cool city (Talk about chutzpah!).
She's commissioned commissions, read Richard
Florida and even been caught carrying around
Tom Friedman's latest. She's a smart woman -
there's no doubt she has ideas.
I'd even venture to say they're good ideas.
She isn't talking tax cuts - she's talking about
education. She realizes that increased support
for infrastructure and K-16 education - not
lower taxes - will draw stable high-tech,
high-wage jobs to Michigan. While she's work-
ing with the Legislature to completely replace
the troubled Single Business Tax, she's made
investment and education the centerpiece of
her economic vision.
But these ideas haven't moved too far from the
drawing board. Instead of spending political capi-
tal and taking the risks needed to push these ideas
into action, she has ... balanced the budget.
Sure, she's also done other little things - last
February, she claimed her administration had
undertaken 24 of the 27 initiatives it created to
grow the state's economy. But if Granholm were
to leave office this November, she'd be remem-
bered simply as that Canadian beauty queen who
became governor.
Of course, Granholm's defenders will argue
that her hands were tied. A hostile Legislature
prevented her from taking bold action. Republi-
cans wouldn't support her ideas; she can't twist
their arms. All true - a liberal Democrat will

undoubtedly face tough opposition from a conser-
vative Legislature.
But there's a difference between unsuccess-
fully fighting insurmountable opposition and
actively avoiding it. Granholm's governing phi-
losophy has been to keep as many people as
happy as possible. She's fought fights over small
issues - but hasn't battled to enact the sweeping
changes needed to make her vision of Michigan
a reality. Despite enacting those 24 initiatives,
Michigan's economic situation is stagnant; the
forces of globalization are pushing hard on this
state. Small, incremental changes aren't enough
to ensure future prosperity.
Granholm has repeatedly mentioned that she
wants to double the number of Michigan's col-
lege graduates. But instead of fighting to increase
funding for higher education (a likely step in the
right direction), she's accepted deep, successive
cuts. She supports the idea of a Life Sciences
Corridor, but won't fight the Legislature to relax
restrictions on stem-cell research. She'll ask the
Legislature "to find the courage to make the
changes our own time demands," but she hasn't
found the courage to publicly push her expensive,
and thus controversial, economic growth initia-
tives (think "Governator").
Governors are more than mere administrators.
They offer leadership; they set a direction for the
state. Michigan, which allows governors to serve
three four-year terms, gives its top executive plenty
of time to formulate and enact sweeping visions.
Granholm must step beyond being a budget direc-
tor and become a true governor. She has the brains,
she has the ideas. Now she needs the guts.

Momin can be reached
at smomin@umich.edu.

A simple change

As college stu-
dents, we all
have our own
horror stories about text-
books. Mine involves a
$250 investment in one
term of organic chem-
istry - right before
I decided not to go to
med school. A friend
of mine still complains,
years later, about the $65 lab book he used twice.
We know, firsthand, all the tricks the textbook
industry uses to grab our money - the bundled
CD-ROMs and study guides we don't need, the
unnecessary new editions that kill off the used-
book market and the shrink wrap that keeps us
from returning our books if we have the temerity
to drop the course after seeing just how boring
the book actually is.
There might not be much the University can
do about the broader sins of the publishing
industry. There is, however, one easy and obvi-
ous move the University could make to lessen
the burden of textbooks on students: make sure
students know what books they'll need well
before classes start.
While campus bookstores used to have a vir-
tual monopoly over textbook sales, the Internet
offers students cheaper options, from used books
to the international editions that publishers sell
overseas at a fraction of the cost they charge
comparatively rich American kids.
Buying textbooks online might seem like yet
another free market triumph in the post-Cold
War world. But here as always, capitalism doesn't
work as perfectly as a starry-eyed Ayn Rand
devotee might think. You see, there's a distortion
in the market because of imperfect information

- no one will tell us which damn books to buy.
It's a pretty obvious problem, and students
have worked on it before. Former Michigan Stu-
dent Assembly President Hideki Tsutsumi made
posting textbook lists on the College of Litera-
ture, Science, and the Arts course guide a goal
during his term five years ago. (Incidentally, he
won office by walking around campus wearing a
sandwich board and talking to students for a year
before the election, I kid you not. MSA presiden-
tial hopefuls, take note.)
Despite his efforts, only 20 percent of LSA
courses then offered listed textbook information
by the end of his term. While there certainly are
courses whose professors are thoughtful enough
to let prospective students know which books
they will need, I doubt from my experiences that
the overall fraction of courses providing textbook
information has gone up terribly much since.
I asked LSA Student Government President
Andrew Yahkind if LSA-SG was doing any-
thing about textbook prices. He's well aware of
the problem: "People don't talk about it," he says,
"but not everyone buys textbooks for their cours-
es." That alone ought to give pause to professors
convinced that this year's latest-and-greatest new
edition - available shrink-wrapped but not used,
of course - really provides the best education.
Yahkind spoke about LSA-SG's proposal this
fall that would require professors to post syllabi
online two weeks before classes start, in order
to make sure students know what courses they
were getting into and had time to buy their books
online. The administration's reaction? "Unfortu-
nately, the response I've gotten from the adminis-
tration hasn't been too enthusiastic about setting
any sort of deadline," Yahkind said.
The LSA administration, indeed, is not enthu-
siastic. LSA Associate Dean Robert Megginson

says he is concerned about the prices that stu-
dents pay for textbooks. He denies, however, that
it would be feasible to implement and enforce
any requirement that LSA professors tell their
students what books they will need. "It would
be a difficult thing to actually require," Meggin-
son said, adding that faculty often decide what
books to use at the last minute. "This is a very
strong faculty-governance school, and generally
requirements that are imposed on faculty have
to be imposed by the faculty themselves, not by
the administration." The undergraduate chairs of
individual LSA departments, Megginson said,
might be better able to get their faculty to list
textbooks online.
Yahkind hopes to still make some progress,
saying that LSA-SG now plans to talk to indi-
vidual departments about making syllabi avail-
able earlier online. He suspects, though, that the
LSA administration could require professors to
list syllabi earlier. "I still believe that, if the fac-
ulty and if the administration wanted it enough,
it could be required," he said.
That seems right to me. It doesn't do much
good to get a softcover version online for a third
of the cost if the book doesn't show up until a
month into the term. Requiring that professors
actually tell us which books we will need isn't
some grave imposition, regardless of the bureau-
cratic barriers. Such a simple change that would
save students money each semester is just the
sort of policy that the faculty and administration
should support if they're concerned about their
students. We're the ones draining our families'
finances and going into debt ourselves to pay our
professors' six-figure salaries, after all.

Zbrozek can be reached
at zbro@umich.edu.


A call to senators about
Auto's nomination
The Senate has begun hearings on Samuel
Alito, President Bush's ultraconservative nomi-
nee to the U.S. Supreme Court. It is time to urge
our state's senators to oppose the confirmation of

Do not let the freedom and safety of American
women be jeopardized. As a society, we cannot
afford to let Samuel Alito be nominated. The
nomination of Alito, or any other ultraconserva-
tive nominee, would be detrimental to the health,
rights and freedom of all American women.
Katherine Murkowski
LSA freshman

Democrats just want to talk about Samuel Alito
or John Roberts, Republicans who automatically
dismiss those comments as "partisan" would
totally be in the right. I guess if a professor were
to praise Bush, Steers probably wouldn't be writ-
ing about it. And finally, I guess if Steers really
wanted to promote the conservative cause on
campus, it would be alright to invite Ann Coulter
(like the University of Connecticut Republican

Editorial Board Members: Amy Anspach, Andrew Bielak, 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, Frank Man-
ley, Kirsty McNamara, Rajiv Prabhakar, Matt Rose, David Russell, Katherine Seid, Brian

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