4A - Wednesday, November 14, 2007
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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KARL STAMPFL IMRAN SYED JEFFREY BLOOMER
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorialboard. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
The Daily's public editor, Paul H. Johnson, acts as the readers' representative and takes a criticallook at
coverage and content in every section of the paper. Readers are encouraged to contact the public editor
with questions and comments. He canbe reached at email@example.com.
.: O TH E A I L
Great Lakes need immediate action from state and feds
President Bush has a peculiar logic when it comes to fed-
eral spending: Hundreds of billions of dollars for his two
wars in Afghanistan and Iraq isn't excessive, but a meager
$23 billion to clean up and protect our nation's water is unneces-
sary. Thankfully, Congress had something else to say. By overrid-
ing Bush's veto of the water bill on Thursday, Congress reasserted
that the survival of our future water supply is a concern that needs
immediate attention - something even lawmakers from the Great
Lakes state haven't always been willing to assert.
The majority was elected on a pledge of fiscal
responsibility, but so far it's acting like a teenager
with a new credit card."
- President Bush at a speech in Indiana yesterday, justifying his veto of a $606 billion spending bill for
education, health care and labor. Bush also signed a bill yesterday approving $471 billion for defense.
f there's one thing Michigan
lawmakers seem to love more
than bickering over the state
budget, it's incar-
only a few notable
legislators want to
lock up as many
people as possible 4
in as few prisons
as possible, ignore $
them and the con- GARY
ditions they live
in while they are GRACA
there, expect them
to make a seamless return to society
through the all-powerful Michigan
Prison Re-entry Initiative and pre-
tend like the whole process doesn't
come at a cost.
They couldn't be more delusional.
To the tune of almost $2 billion a
year, Michigan is financing one of the
most dysfunctional corrections sys-
tems in the country, and certainly the
most backward in the Midwest. The
sadder thing is that fixing the problem
is a lot easier than people might think.
Positive reforms just can't get sup-
port. Although these might not be the
most popular or politically palatable
solutions, if the state eased up its sen-
tencing guidelines for a few low-risk
offenses and opened up the option of
parole for inmates who have earned a
second chance, much of the strain and
cost of the system would go away.
According to statistics from the U.S.
Bureau of Justice, Michigan incarcer-
ates people at the eighth-highestrate in
the country, locking up 502 people out
of everyt100,000. Each of these inmates
costs roughly $35,000 a year to keep
behind bars - a figure that is more
than three times the U.S. poverty line
for a single, non-elderly person. Mean-
while, Michigan's unemployment rate
is still hovering around 7 percent, and
lawmakers are slashing safety-net ser-
vices like Medicaid because they can't
bite the bullet and raise taxes.
Somehow, the Michigan Depart-
ment of Corrections still managed to
get a budget increase of $125 million
for the next fiscal year.
While it might seem wildly unfair
that the state keeps pumping money
into Michigan's system of mass incar-
ceration even as it ignores unemployed
workers, it might just be worth it after
all if it is making our state a safer place.
But it's not.
Accordingto2005 statistics fromthe
U.S. Bureau of Justice, when compared
to neighboring states like Ohio, Illi-
nois, Indiana and Wisconsin, Michigan
has the highest violent crime, murder,
forcible rape and aggravated assault
rates per 100,000 people - despite also
having the highest incarceration rate.
Last October, two Michigan cities,
Detroit and Flint, were also bestowed
the honor of beingthe second and third
most dangerous cities in the country,
as judged by the private research com-
pany Morgan Quitno Press.
In May 2007, Gov. Jennifer Gran-
holm proposed one solution that makes
sense: Reform sentencing guidelines so
less people end up in prison and those
in prison serve shorter sentences. The
plan would reform 142 felonies and
includes lowering maximum sentences
for cocaine and marijuana possession
and higher thresholds for forgery, lar-
ceny and counterfeiting crimes. The
changes would save an estimated $76
million per year.
writing about the health care problems
in Michigan's prisons, Detroit Free
Press columnist Jeff Gerritt wrote
another proposal this weekend that
just makes sense. Gerritt proposed
that Michigan allow well-behaved,
reformed inmates with life sentences
the opportunity to parole after serv-
ing roughly 15 to 18 years. This was an
option till 1992 - when then-governor
John Engler helped institute a "life-
means-life" philosophy - and recidi-
vism rates for these parolees were
much lower than other offenders.
But both of these common-sense
proposals will have to fend off the
ubiquitous public safety arguments.
People don't want ex-convicts in their
neighborhoods or at their workplaces.
And victims understandably want
severe punishment for the perpetra-
tors, regardless of whether the crime is
theft or murder.
State Republicans tap into and take
advantage of these sentiments every
timethis debatecomesup. Like allgood
things Republican, the answer lies in
isn't making us
safer - only poorer.
letting the market make it all better.
By privatizing our state prisons or out-
sourcing our prisoners to other states,
Michigan can still mass incarcerate
- it just needs to doit more efficiently.
It's pretty far-fetched to say that out-
sourcing inmates away from their fam-
ily and community is an effective way
to reform them, but if by some stretch
of the imagination it is, why not satisfy
everyone and implement a viable sys-
tem of parole, too?
The reality is that we don't have a
punishments system; we have a cor-
rections system - and that means not
locking up people when they aren't
dangerous and not keeping inmates in
prison indefinitely. Michigan can find
better ways to spend its money.
Gary Graca is an associate
editorial page editor. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org,
Meant to increase spending on water
projects across the country, including two
highlighted projects to clean up the Florida
Everglades and the Gulf Coast, Congress's
$23 billion water bill was one of the few
bipartisan things done in Washington this
year. But claiming that the bill included
more than $9 billion in pork barrel projects,
Bush vetoed it two weeks ago.
On Nov. 6, the U.S. House of Representa-
tives voted overwhelmingly to override the
veto, with all of Michigan's 15 representa-
tives - Republicans and Democrats - vot-
ing with the majority. Finishing the job, the
U.S. Senate joined the House on Thursday
to deliver the first veto override of Bush's
The reasoning behind Bush's veto of the
bill was faulty to begin with. Brought into
focus by the wildfires out West and the
drought in the South, America is currently
experiencing a water crisis. The water sup-
plies that we do have are becoming increas-
ingly polluted, and we must turn the focus
to cleaning them up right away. Although
he claimed that the bill included too much
pork barrel spending, all of the projects
included in the bill are essential to the
health of the country's water supply. By any
standard, essential spending simply cannot
be considered pork.
The bill comes with many benefits for
Michigan and the Great Lakes water system,
which contains more than 20 percent of the
world's fresh water. It includes funding for a
new shipping lock at Sault Ste. Marie, which
would open up northern Michigan to ship-
ping and strengthen the Upper Peninsula's
local economy. In the Detroit area, the bill
would fund shoreline protection along the
Detroit River, and the cleaning up of Lake
St. Clair and the St. Clair River. One of the
most essential parts of the bill includes
funding to correct raw sewage overflows
into the Great Lakes, which encourages the
growth of dangerous e-coli bacteria.
Even though the federal government just
poured money into the Great Lakes, our own
state government is still lagging behind.
As one of the few remaining parties yet to
sign the Great Lakes Compact - a regional
agreement between the eight states border-
ing the Great Lakes and the two Canadian
provinces to prevent Great Lakes water from
leaving the basin - Michigan lawmakers
are dragging their feet. With faraway states
coveting Great Lakes water, the compact, if
also approved by Congress, would bar the
transport of water out of the Great Lakes
system. That is an essential step in ensuring
the Great Lakes, already at historically low
water levels, are not further depleted.
Congress had the right idea when it voted
to override Bush's veto and fund the pro-
tection of the nation's water resources. It is
time for Michigan to get on board and sign
the Great Lakes compact. After all, water is
one of the few things Michigan has left.
T ) I ETSEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
STUDENTS OF OBJECTIVISM
Celebrating rational egoism
Cable, BTNtoo trivial
for Daily editpage
TO THE DAILY:
I was horrified to read Patrick
Zabawa's column about students'
inability to watch the Big Ten Net-
work on Comcast cable (The one cable
company, 11/09/2007). I was horri-
fied to see that a medium as influen-
tial as a newspaper's editorial page is
being used to discuss something as
trivial as television. What about the
social justice issues that plague the
nation and the world? What about
the discrimination of people of color,
women, the poor, the LGBT commu-
nity, immigrants, etc.? What about
the corruption of the criminal justice
system, violence against women and
Yes, it is disappointing that you
can't watch all Michigan football
games on TV, but there are more
important issues in the world to
worry about. It is just television after
all, and the number of pieces and let-
ters the Daily has printed about this
School ofSocial Work
Tsunamis not caused
by global warming
"Atlas Shrugged," the magnum opus of
novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand, depicts
a world in which the productive, the effica-
cious and the creative are damned and shack-
led by those who think that the only way to be
moral is to sacrifice, to give and to be selfless.
It also shows what happens to human exis-
tence when those who produce the material
and spiritual values we all take for granted
choose to no longer be damned or shackled
and instead go on strike.
For the celebration of the 50th anniversary
of this inspirational novel's publication, the
University of Michigan Students of Objectiv-
ism would like to take a moment to discuss
the historical significance of the novel's mes-
sage, especially its revolutionary new moral-
ity of rational egoism.
The call to serve others - whether a super-
natural being, one's neighbors or one's nation
- has gone on throughout human history,
and the 21st century has not been an excep-
tion. In today's political realm, it appears
to be self-evident that the productive mem-
bers of society must (not have the choice to,
but must) give their fair share to the collec-
tive "greater good," or in other words, give
to those who haven't produced. Examples
of this coerced sacrifice can be seen in the
current welfare states around the world, the
calls for national service, the billions spent
on-foreign aid and altruistic wars and the tax
systems that support these sacrifices. During
both the sermon and the classroom lecture,
we're told to be our brother's keeper, to serve
the community, to avoid selfish achievement
and to be altruistic.
But does life require altruism? Are other
people and the obligatory satisfaction of their
wants and needs the sole purpose of living? In
other words, does a human being have a moral
right to exist, to live and take action? If so, who
ought to be the beneficiary of such action?
The idea of rational egoism, as presented
in "Atlas Shrugged," states that an individual
has the moral right to exist, should be the ben-
eficiary of his own action and should hold his
own life as the standard of value. Using reason
to figure out what goals are actually in one's
long-term self-interest and accomplishing
these goals becomes a daily necessity. Instead
of regarding this policy of selfishness as evil
and immoral, rational egoism regards it as a
profound achievement. .
In a passage from character John Galt's
speech in "Atlas Shrugged," Rand summa-
rizes the essence of rational egoism: "To live,
man must hold three things as the supreme
and ruling values of his life: Reason, Purpose,
The characters of the book either embody
this spirit or anti-spirit of an egoist. Whether
it's dealing with the struggle between the pro-
ducers and the looters or the courage to rely
upon one's own mind, "Atlas Shrugged" viv-
idly depicts the heroic life of a moral, rational,
selfish person and the consequences of an irra-
tional, altruistic parasite. It's no wonder that
Rand characterized her philosophy as one "for
living on Earth."
In this novel, a type of selfishness is present-
edthat is not irresponsible, brutish, moronic or
irrational. Instead, this type of selfishness is
principled, fulfilling, just and rational.
If readers would like to know more about
this new morality, the University of Michi-
gan Students of Objectivism suggests you pick
up a copy of "Atlas Shrugged" and attend our
speaker event, "Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand's
Morality of Egoism," tonight at 7:30 p.m. in
Angell Hall Auditorium A.
Andrew Sardone is an LSA senior and
Roderick Fitts is an LSA sophomore. Sardone is
the president and Fitts is the vice president of the
University of MichiganS students of objectivism.
enact this specific type of legislation
in the country, opponents claimed
that it would cause frequent gun bat-
tles over every small public dispute.
However, years later, it has become
clear that these predictions were
false: Violent crime rates in Florida
have fallen significantly.
Forty other states also give citi-
zens a "right to carry," with 36 states
having "shall issue" laws like Florida,
which necessitate that if applicants
meet certain, agreed upon guidelines,
they must be issued a permit to carry
a concealed weapon. Not a single state
that has passed a concealed weapons
law has voted to repeal it.
Of the states that allow concealed
weapons, currently Utah is the only
state that permits concealed weap-
ons on campuses. As we have come to
expect, opponents of this extension
claimed that students and teachers
would engage in gunfights over class-
room discussions. And as it turns out,
these claims did not come true.
In 2006, Virginia legislators con-
sidered passing a law that would have
permitted the same extension as
Utah. Unfortunately, the law failed.
When a student went on a shooting
rampage at Virginia Tech Univer-
sity earlier this year, he chained the
doors of the building shut with the
full knowledge that the only guns in
this building were his own. One can't
help but wonder what would have
happened if law-abiding citizens,
licensed by the state to carry firearms
for self-defense, had been able to fire
Join me in pledging to act as strong
advocates for civil liberties wherever
they are at risk.
Public Policy junior
The letter writer is chair of the Univer-
sity's undergraduate chapter ofthe ACLU
democracy to the air
TO THE DAILY:
I am writing in response to Imran
Syed's column last week, (The liberal
revenge, 11/07/2007). I have no prob-
lem with conservative anchors being
pushed off cable - to a point. Conser-
vatives have had the stage for eight
years and now the tables have turned.
The people have decided; the liberal
revenge, as it were.
Just "as the majority of Americans
have not transformed suddenly into
foot soldiers for the neo-con cause,"
the majority will not become polariz-
ing and prejudiced. Syed asks, "Why
is it that we cannot have a network
with differing viewpoints and true
disagreement? Isn't that the most
logical extension ofAmerican democ-
racy to the airwaves?" Indeed, true
democracy would be YouTube view-
ers regularly challenging anchors and
other viewers on TV. I call it YouTube
The CNN/YouTube Debates are
working better than the mockery of
a presidential debate we are usually
treated to. My point is this: Let the
people do the thinking via YouTube
dialogue and debate and then have
the media and government act on it.
The best thing about YouTube is that
it would create a dynamic between
those in power and those not in
power - between the Washington
politician, the YouTube citizen and
the media czar.
impress in Madison
TO THE DAILY:
On Saturday, my school, the Uni-
versity of Wisconsin at Madison, had
the pleasure of hosting Michigan fans
for our last home football game of the
season. Even though Michigan lost, I
was impressed by the attitudes of the
team's supporters. Michigan had the
greatest number of fans at our sta-
dium out of all the teams I have seen
play there. Michigan fans are ener-
getic, good sports and overall classy
people. I know Camp Randall isn't
always the friendliest environment
for visitors, but I hope you will con-
tinue come back in years to come.
University of Wisconsin sophomore
TO THE DAILY: back.
In his viewpoint Thursday, Neil
Sardana incorrectly linked the Jon Regal
2004 tsunami with global warming Alum
(Activism and survival in our times,
11/08/2007). Tsunamis are typi-
cally caused by an undersea earth- Free sp
quake that causes a wave to radiate
outward, rising as it approaches Vigilan
land. There is no evidence that sup-
ports a link between the geological TO THE DA
activity that would cause a tsunami I was pl
and global warming. article Mon
Making such an obviously false president of
claim hurts the global warming erties Unio
argument and damages Sardana's freedom of
defense of student activism. How Defend the o
can students be truly active if we point canno
don't even know the facts? that maintai
Bryan VanDuinen The story
Engineeringfreshman ture was on
Campus safety comes one that has
with looser gun laws House of Re
and as mun
TO THE DAILY: the Michiga
In response to Monday's article I was esp
about the University chapter of the sen's attent
College Libertarians raffling off a gun First Amen
voucher (To push gun rights, group nated here
offers a gun voucher, 11/12/2007), continue to:
increasing safety still has one simple campus like
and reasonable solution: allowing cit- freedom, I w
izens to carry handguns. to keep in m
When Florida passed its concealed tural contex
handgun law in 1987, the first state to take place.
eased to see the Daily's
day on the lecture by the
the American Civil Lib-
n, Nadine Strossen, on
speech (ACLU president:
ot be made too strongly
ning America's core free-
es constant vigilance.
yStrossen told in her lec-
e of a struggle for First
t rights with every presi-
ninistration. It was also
been fought on stages as
as the floors of the U.S.
presentatives and Senate
dane as the chambers of
n Student Assembly.
ecially inspired by Stros-
ion to precedent-setting
dment cases that origi-
at the University. As we
discuss relevant issues on
speech codes and artistic
Mould encourage my peers
ind the rich legal and cul-
xt in which our decisions
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Emad Ansari, Anindya Bhadra, Kevin Bunkley, Ben Caleca, Jon Cohen, Milly Dick, Mike
Eber, Gary Graca, Emmarie Huetteman, Theresa Kennelly, Emily Michels, Robert
Soave, Jennifer Sussex, Neil Tambe, Matt Trecha, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel
Van Gilder, Rachel Wagner, Patrick Zabawa
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. Letters should be
under 300 words and must include the writer's full name and University
affiliation. All submissions become property of the Daily. We do not print
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