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March 07, 2008 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-03-07

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0 0 *
pinion

4 - Friday, March 7, 2008
Owutdilgan 4:alp
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

ANDREW GROSSMAN
EDITOR IN CHIEF

GARY GRACA
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR

GABE NELSON
MANAGING EDITOR

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position oftthe Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
andillustrations representsolely theviews oftheir 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 can be reached at publiceditor@umich.edu.
F ROM T HE DAILY
A desitre named streetcar
City should act on eco-friendly and flashy transportation
he prospect of rolling out of bed on a blustery winter day to
sledge through five inches of slush is a harrowing prospect
for any University student. But soon what some are calling
a "hipper" mode of transport might be clanging to your doorstep.
Ann Arbor, make way for the streetcar. As an environmentally
friendly form of transportation and, frankly, just an original and
exhilarating way to get around and spice up the city, streetcars
sound like the way to go - despite the high cost.

(( NOTABLE QUOTABLE
We're going to forfeit those two big
states? What kind of fools would we be:'
- Don Fowler, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, on how the DNC must
return Michigan and Florida's delegates, as reported yesterday by The Detroit News.
The high cost ofsuccess
t was noon on a Saturday after- arrive on campus, the need for more who don't have to worry about bud-
noon and the scent of $2 Patr6n cash flow increases when all the signs geting and credit card debt, and there
tequila shots was still oozing leading to success point to the nearest are those who do. Unfortunately,
through my pores, ATM machine. for those of us who didn't memorize
evidence of last If they really wanted to level the daddy's American Express Black Card
night's soiree at playing field, they'd hand out gift cer- number, we find ourselves strug-
Studio 4 Nightclub. tificates to Macy's with those schol- glingto keep up with our rich friends.
After puking, show- arships, because ultimately, it takes a No one wants to be the tacky buddy
ering and dressing I little more than free tuition to make who's always borrowing clothes or
headed out my dorm a promising studenta competitive job the hermit friend who can never go
room door, stopping applicant. Ironically, in order to suc- out because they are always "broke."
to check my mail. ceed in college nowadays, you have Many would argue that if your friends
I shuffled through SHAKIRA to look like you've already succeeded. really want you to hang out with them,
my late payment As superficial as it may sound, it costs they would choose activities that are
notices and stuffed SMILER a pretty penny to maintain a certain budget-friendly or offer to front part
them back inside, level of shall I say, "status" at the Uni- of your bill, but playing Frisbee in
hanging onto a cou- versity and in the country. Because of the Arb gets boring after a while and
pon from The Limited for $25 off of this, many of us find ourselves living mooching is a big no-no on the list of
my next purchase. above our means for the sake of main- friendship do's and don'ts.
After stopping by Starbucks for taining a certain image.
my daily vanilla latte, I sauntered It's no secret that most learning is
into the library and whipped out my done outside of the classroom, and
$300 PDA to check my bank account, the best way to network is to build Fitting'in
remembering that I still owe T- and maintain friendships and rela-
Mobile $346.86 for accidentally using tionships with your peers right here now requires a
too many of my minutes. A few hours at the University. Those of us who go
later, I realized that what I really Greek can testify that membership separateloan
needed was another date with Briar- fees, chapter dues, workshop registra- sp rt
wood Mall to ease my pain. tion fees and miscellaneous expenses
My eyes lit up as I dashed in and like buying gowns for formals or gas
out of every store, opening up two for road trips can be just as costly as Contrary to popular belief, us colle-
new credit card accounts for al10 per- tuition. This requires making some giate folks really don't carelessly blow
cent discount on my purchase. I was steep financial investments. all of our money. But being involved,
feeling great with my eyebrows fresh- According to a study by Nellie Mae, driven and competitive causes many
ly threaded, my nails perfectly mani- a leading student loan provider, most of us to slowly dig ourselves into a hole
cured, two new pairs of shoes, three college students will graduate with of debt. Trying to keep up with the
new pairs of jeans and another Star- at least $20,000 in debt. At least 15 societal standard of what's accepted
bucks vanilla latte as I headed back percent of that will be credit card and respected, whether it's clothes,
to campus, using the sweet aroma of debt. Everyone expects to graduate electronics or even group affiliations,
coffee beans to block outthe haunting with a few loans to cover educational is very expensive. Unless you're the
thoughts of my next MasterCard bill. expenses after college. What they secret love child of Oprah Winfrey
Sure, my expected family contri- don't tell you is that if you want to be a and Bill Gates, chances are you'll never
bution on the FAFSA form has been student who's involved on campus and have the luxury of truly being able to
$0.00 for the past four years, but as marketable to companies, you'd better afford this lifestyle.
long as I'm pre-approved for a credit take out another loan just to pay for Fortunately, American Express has
card, I'll never spend another Satur- your shot at winning enough votes to made it possible for.you to fake your
day night sitting around the house. land a position on the executive board way to the top for only 12 easy pay-
Private scholarships and govern- of the Squirrel Club or an internship ments of $99.95.
ment grantswill have everyone believ- with a major corporation.
ing that a quality college education is When attending a top school like Shakira Smiler can be reached
just an application away. But once you the University, there are students at stsmiler@umich.edu.
.H..ow Nader crushed my dreams

4
I
q

The hot item in urban public transporta-
tion is the streetcar. Cities like Seattle, New
Orleans and Toronto have already imple-
mented similar systems. And people have
taken a liking to them. Usage numbers in
Seattle, for instance, exceeded expectations.
This bodes well for Ann Arbor, a city already
enamored with public transport and looking
to add to its arsenal.
Trams are tree-hugger compatible for
a number of reasons. They can carry up to
twice as many passengers than traditional
buses. That means fewer vehicles on the
roads. Shuttletrams,whichtransport people
from the city's outskirts and reduce conges-
tion downtown, would eliminate gridlock.
This in turn lowers carbon emissions. All of
this means that trams are the next logical
technology to pursue in order to maintain
Ann Arbor's rep as revolutionary.
The city has been doing a good job lately
greening itself, rather than just its image.
Other cities have fallen into this trap. Last
fall, the Ann Arbor Transportation Author-
ity announced it would add 13 biofuel buses
to its fleet in the next year. AntAfb also
recently took top honors as arguably the
first 100 percent LED-lighted city in the
nation.t

It's true that this shiny new train comes
with a hefty price tag. Its initial investment
is marked at $50 million or more. And annu-
al upkeep for similar systems can cost up to
$5 million. But the city shouldn't let all those
zeros scare it away. This is exactly the kind
of step a city that wishes to remain on the
cusp of eco-consciousness needs to take.
Like other cities, it seems likely that the
money will turn up with alternative financ-
ing options. Some cities have been able to get
partial private funding. Portland was able
to receive funding from the Oregon Health
& Science University, which contributed
because student usage was estimated to be
high. If Ann Arbor decides on streetcars,
the University of Michigan should consider
chipping in.
Besides being environmentally friendly,
streetcars are a flashy way to increase usage
of public transportation. They are hip, mod-
ern and in demand. Students and city resi-
dents alike would use these.
Bringing streetcars, to Ann Arbor repre-
sents challenge, but it's one the city needs to
take on. The systemweAuldn't'bein place for
five to eight years, which gives it plenty of
time to get fiscally creative. It's time for the
city to jump on board.

t

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Emad Ansari, Harun Buljina, Anindya Bhadra, Kevin Bunkley, Ben Caleca,
Satyajeet Deshmukh, Milly Dick, Mike Eber, Emmarie Huetteman,
Theresa Kennelly, Emily Michels, Arikia Millikan, Kate Peabody, Robert Soave,
lmran Syed, Neil Tambe, Matt Trecha, Kate Truesdell, Radhika Upadhyaya,
Rachel Van Gilder, Rachel Wagner, Patrick Zabawa.

L E TT ERS TO T HE E DITOR
Understanding China,
the media's version of it

SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
not coop eration can avoid misunderstanding and
help solve these issues. Finally, I suggest that
Robinson and any other prejudiced person
takes atrip to China to learn aboutthe country
first-hand, rather than relying on the media.

TO THE DAILY:
In a column by Ian Robinson about how Jinhui Chen
Michigan swimmer Michael Phelps should Rackham
use his status at the Olympics to condemn
the Chinese government, which supposedly T r to
violates peace and moral principles (PhelpsI
should focus on more than swimming in Bei-
jing, 03/05/2008). This prejudiced condem- TO THE DAILY:
nation should notbe accepted. I don't know Speaking from experience as a former art
how much homework Robinson had done editor, a self-published artist and an artist
before he accused a foreign government that published in The Gargoyle humor magazine,
he might not know much about. However, I'm the comic-making process is long and ardu-
wondering whether Robinson has ever tried ous. Drawing comics is a craft that depends
to approach the Chinese government about on both storytelling, creative humor and art. I
his concerns or learn what the Chinese gov- must say that the Daily's cartoonists are lack-
ernment has done to help the Sudanese. ing in all of these areas. The comics appear
Fortunately, I read information from both rough and lacking in technical or stylistic
sides and make my judgment. The Darfur effort, and the humor is commonly poorly
issue in Sudan has its historical root in pro- thought out and executed. In Tuesday's
longed poverty. How many of those people paper, the Daily's public editor Paul John-
who advocate a boycott of this summer's Bei- son defended the comics by saying that the
jing Games have made a real trip to the Dar- art and humor is subjective (What is funny?,
fur region? The Chinese government has done 03/04/2008). But in truth Johnson was trying
a great deal in order to help solve the Darfur to hide poorly made comics behind a philo-
issue and is still doing more for the Sudanese, sophical argument about what defines humor
including constructing infrastructure and and good art.
helping develop the Sudanese economy. How- Humor and art aside, the comics as a whole
ever, many other related countries rarely do could hardly pass off as thumbnails or even
tangible and practical work to help relieve the rough drafts in other newspapers or pub-
sufferings in Darfur. Accusation and boycott lications. If either the art or the writing in
won't help solve the Darfur issue. A solution a comic is not worthy of being publish, the
will only come from international coopera- whole comic must be deemed unfit for publi-
tion and multilateral actions. cation. To publish poorly done comics, hoping
Robinson's accusation that "If a Chinese that they increase in quality, is a poor edito-
citizen tried speak out against his or her rial decision and a blow to a publication. An
government, that person would get jailed" is editor should strive to publish high-quality
ridiculous. It's ignorant of Chinese society, material and push the staff to become better,
culture and politics. I assure you that Phelps no matter what.
will have the freedom to express himself how- Johnson also discussed the difficulties
ever he likes as long as he doesn't threaten to of passing judgment on comics. He stated,
overthrow the Chinese government. "cartoons aren't judged by the same objec-
In terms of the Tiananmen Square event, tive standard as news in this regard." That is
people might not realize that almost all 1.3 completely wrong. Publishing a poorly drawn
billion Chinese want social stability. Had the or thought out cartoon is no different from
event taken place ina Western country, other publishing a poorly written or grammati-
governments would not have condemned it cally incorrect article. If the Daily cannot
so harshly because it was a defense of social find competent comic artists, then the correct
stability. This is not just a political issue: This editorial decision would be to not publish any
is about the fortunes of the Chinese and the comics until this is remedied.
People's Republic. Like all Americans, all The comics the Daily has published since
Chinese also need a peaceful, safe and pros- the beginning of this year are eyesores. I
perous life. would rank them among the league of Mar-
In addition, China is in a different part of maduke and Cathy, but at least the authors of
the world. The Western media has never cov- those two comics have some artistic skill.
cered a country like it. In the confrontation
about global issues including poverty, conflict, Adrian Choy
energy crisis and so forth, only dialogue and Engineeringfreshman

or those of you who didn't
sped 'your vacationis reading
'L bookmarked, back-logged New
York Times articles
while listening to
MSNBC, you may
have missed Ralph
Nader's recent
announcement on
"Meet the Press." It
made my heart leap
- he's running for
president. Again.
Then came the KATE
collective disgrun- TRUESDELL
tled sigh from the
Democratic camp.
Even Barack Obama, the apparent
golden boy of this year's election waltz
had some less-than-Boy-Scout-like
things to say about the notable con-
sumer activist. The reason the left-
leaners are all hot under the collar
because of Nader harkens back to the
2000 election. Many Democrats still
blame Nader for stealing liberal votes
from Al Gore, ultimately costing him
the election.
As a Green Party supporter, the
2000 election is a sore subject for me.
You think your life is tough, Dems?
The Greens were able to win a minis-
cule 2.74 percent of the vote, and that
was heralded as a feat for the ages by
experts. So, remind me again why I
should have sympathy for a party with
millions of dollars, unlimited media
access and every resource needed to
seal the deal. Gore didn't even win his
home state. As easy as it is to blame the
underdog, the Democrats have no one
to blame but themselves for their his-
toric defeat.
I was ready to go to the mattresses
to defend my man - and then came
Thursday. On the 28th of last month
Nader announced he does not plan to
run on the Green Party ticket this time
around, despite the fact that he would
be virtually guaranteed the nomina-
tion from the party that has always
been loyal to him. That was the news
that crushed my 2008 election dreams.
Nader and the GP would have been an
ideal pairing. They would have mount-
ed a stronger campaign than either
standing alone.
Ilike Nader because he's the political
equivalent to giving the middle finger.
He's been criticized as having tunnel-
vision, being egotistical, stubborn and
an all-around a pain in the ass. That
is, among other reasons, exactly why
I love him. If Nader took the election,
he would stomp into the oval office,
bury his nose in work and not look up
until he was dragged from office, re-
election be damned. And I'm a big fan
of the Green Party's ten-point platform
(check out www.gp.org). This would
have been the perfect pairing between
the man who strives for change and a
party with a fresh vision of what that
change should be.
Going it alone is a bad choice for
Nader. Third parties and indepen-
dent candidates already have it tough
enough. They get very little street
cred. The major parties argue that fill-
ing out some forms, getting some sig-

nature and throwing together a ticket
aoes not make you a legitimate party.
That's pretty condescending - exactly
the type of big-headed sense of entitle-
ment that makes Democrats claim that
Nader "stole" their votes in the last
election. That lack of respect works to
prevent voters from seriously consid-
ering alternative party platforms. The
common sentiment is that third parties
are a waste of attention and votes.
That prejudice is unfortunate
because it's exactly what hinders true
change. Lots of people during elec-
tions sit around and whine about how
they don't like their choices. Then they
wait for November and check a box
for whomever they dislike the least.
One of the biggest problems with the
American political system today is the
domineering of the two major parties.
I'm sick of choosing between two par-
ties and two candidates that will begin
to sound more and more similar as Nov.
4 approaches. In acountryas diverseas
Americathere is nowayeveryvoice can
be represented by just two platforms,
especially when it has taken so long
for one of them to nominate a minority
candidate for president.
People tell me voting Green makes
me a romantic idealist, and that I'm
throwing my vote away. But I'll con-
tinue to vote on principle because I
believe that it's the onlyway change can
begin and because I believe eventually
America will join in my frustration and
realize the need for more players in the
political game. I still believe a vote for

third parties is a vote for choice.
In the face of all the challenges third
parties already face, if anyone has a
right to be pissed about Nader splitting
from the Greens, it should be people
like me - who actually believe in an
independent challenge to the monot-
ony of the two-party system. Nader's
2.74 percent is closest thing we've had
to a serious third-party challenge as
long as I've been old enough to follow
politics - and Id hardly call that any-
thing close to a serious threat.
A vote for third
party is a vote
for choice
It'struethatindependentcandidates
like Ross Perot have had more success-
ful campaigns as recently as 1992. But
that 2.74 percent represents the most
successful campaign by a third party in
recent years. Nader's distancing him-
self from the Greens is another setback
for the little-party-that-could, which is
already having enough problems huff-
ing and puffingup the hill.
And this added division has crushed
my election dreams.
Kate Truesdell can be reached
at ketrue@umich.edu.

JASON MAHAKIAN

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