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September 29, 2008 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-09-29

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4A - Monday, September 29, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu

ANDREW GROSSMAN
EDITOR IN CHIEF

GARY GRACA
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR

GABE NELSON
MANAGING EDITOR

Unsigned editorials reflectthe official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
FROM THE DAiIY
Carpool party
Adding HOV lanes a good idea, but part of larger fix
H ow many 20-somethings would you fit in your car? For the
students and young professionals commuting to campus
every day, the answer depends on gas prices. With rising
costs at the pump, carpooling has become increasingly popular in
both Ann Arbor and the state at large. Now, politicians in Lansing
are set to endorse the habit as well. Last week, the state legislature
passed bills that would promote high-occupancy vehicle lanes on
Michigan's crowded highways. If properly implemented, such plans
could help both ourstate's transit system and the environment. Still,
lawmakers must make sure that this is just one part of a more com-
prehensive solution to our transportation troubles.

...A..E.....A:LE
As Putin rears his head and comes
into the air space of the U.S., where
do they go? It's Alaska:'
-Gov. Sarah Palin, explaining in her recent interview with Katie Couric how her
state's proximity to Russia constitutes foreign policy experience.
JASON MAHAKIAN E-MAIL JASON AT MAHAKIAJ@UMICH.EDU
- 3;CNX.-09 IO
Startinga real dialogue

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High-occupancy vehicle lanes, also
known as carpool lanes, are already in
place in other parts of the country. Their
use is typically limited during certain
times of day to cars with two or more
people, buses and vans. One such pilot
carpool lane has recently been opened
in Detroit near the Ambassador Bridge.
Depending on how things go there, we
may soon see them elsewhere. Bills that
would encourage their development have
passed both houses of the state legislature
and will soon make their way to Gov. Jen-
nifer Granholm.
Bringing carpool lanes to Michigan
makes sense. To begin with, Detroit has
congested highways. And the picture isn't
much prettier in other big cities. Reserving
lanes for multi-passenger traffic, at least
during peak hours, would go a long way
toward fixing this problem. The conces-
sions to buses may also encourage sorely
needed public transportation. And besides
making highway travel a little less gruel-
ing, carpool lanes could positively impact
the environment as well; in taking cars off
the road, we would clear up both our skies
and our freeways.
Adding these lanes to Michigan's infra-
structure would also coincide nicely with
the growing popularity of carpooling. The
last few years have seen skyrocketing gas
prices. Splitting gas costs with others has
proven to be an effective solution to this
problem. The Ann Arbor Transportation
Authority, for example, has seen a 15-per-

cent increase in its carpooling program
this year. And while pressure at the pump
is probably the biggest motivating fac-
tor, the role of the Internet should not be
understated either. Many social network-
ing sites have recently sprung up to help
people find someone to carpool with. A
few months ago, the University took the
commendable step of creating Greenride
- a carpooling website geared exclusively
toward its students and employees. Imple-
menting carpool lanes into our highway
system would go a long way in encourag-
ing this trend.
And yet, with the enthusiasm behind
the bills in Lansing, you have to wonder
what happened to some similarly promis-
ing transportation initiatives. A commuter
rail link between Ann Arbor and Detroit
remains an unrealized pipe dream, while
a similar connection between Ann Arbor
and Howell has been postponed for more
than a year. Mass transit in Detroit, mean-
while, has been languishing for decades.
Carpool lanes might be a piece of the
puzzle, but they're not the whole solution.
For Michigan to have the transportation
system it deserves, our lawmakers need to
applytheir enthusiasm overthis projectto a
more comprehensive reconstruction of the
state's infrastructure. Still, this would be
a marked improvement on the status quo.
Carpool lanes would deliver some much-
needed help to our beleaguered highway
system. Hopefully their construction will
be a sign of better things to come.

neofthemost frighteningfacts
of this election has been the
media blackout around Sarah
Palin. Reporters
have been allowed a
minimum of contact
with her, and as a
result have not been
able to ask the many
critical questions
that our democratic N
citizenry need to
have answered. B
It is easy to BRYAN
assume, as Camp- KOLK
bell Brown did on
CNN, that John
McCain's campaign is treating her in
sexist fashion like "a delicate flower
that will wilt at any moment." The fact
is, though, that we simply don't know.
Not as long as the public is denied a
dialogue with her. We need to get to
know our candidates, especially in
potentially hostile situations. Dialogue
is essential to democracy.
On Friday we were given the oppor-
tunity to hear the candidates oppos-
ing viewpoints side by side in the
first presidential debate. This sort of
dialogue is what we need. Of course,
95 percent of the debate was nothing
but blatant politicking, name calling
and pandering, but in that remaining
5 percent we got to view some honest
give and take between two widely dif-
fering philosophies; and this is critical
in getting comfortable with one of the
candidates.
This tiny bite of real political dia-
logue, though, is not nearly enough.
While events like the debates are prob-
ably capable of honestly swaying a few

minds one way or the other, most of
us are much more entrenched in our
stances on the issues. But we can't con-
sider any of our beliefs to be remotely
authentic until they have been authen-
tically challenged. And like it or not,
there are intelligent people on all sides
of the aisle.
This came to the forefront of my
attention a few weeks ago when I was
talking to a friend from India. I was
arguing, rather effectively, about what
I saw as John McCain's complete lack
of concern for the middle class. But
his response had nothing to do with
the cohesiveness of my arguments.
He said, "In America, you think these
things are black and white. There is
one side or another, and everyone is
divided."
It is easy for me, and I suspectmany
others, to feel that there is really only
one reasonable, informed approach to
take on each major issue. Deregula-
tion allows Wall Street to fall to greed,
and regulation is needed to check
that deadly sin. Passing modest tax
increases to promote social justice is a
more valuable goal than tax cuts sim-
ply for the sake of decreasing the size
of government. A president should not
automatically rule out the possibility
of meeting with certain foreign lead-
ers if there is any hope of fostering a
world community.
But among the great numbers of
people whose opinions differ from
mine, many do so for valid reasons.
The problem is not that half of the
population is wrong; it is that our his-
tory of two-party politics has made
every issue into an eitier/or. This is
an absolute fallacy. One is not either

left or right, Democrat or a Republi-
can; very few people subscribe to the
entirety of either party line.
People fear the sheer liberal or
conservativeness of the "other side."
What is often ignored, though, is that
policies do not flip instantly from one
pole to the other. They exist along a
continuum. For instance, there would
be disastrous consequences if we sud-
denly switched to socialized medicine
overnight. But we never will. If it hap-
pens at all (please, God), it will hap-
pen very slowly. We have to choose
between a candidate who will push the
issue, gradually, one way or the other.
A new conversation
could change our
partisan ways.
If we conceive of the candidates'
positions as pinpoints along a spec-
trum of possible outcomes, then we
can find greater value in comparing
their positionsto our own. And as
students at the University of Michi-
gan, we have the additional opportu-
nity to compare our beliefs with those
of some of the brightest people in the
country. If we accept the challenge
and seek out dialogue, I think we will
all find it much easier to conceive of
realist, bipartisan solutions.
Bryan Kolk canbe reached
at beakerkgumich.edu.

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SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Harun Buljina, Emmarie Huetteman, Emily Michels, Kate Peabody, Robert Soave, Imran Syed
The Daily is looking for smart people with an interest in campus issues
and excellent writing skills to be members of its editorial board.
E-MAIL GARY GRACA AT GRACA@MICHIGANDAILY.COM
FOR MORE INFORMATION
MADELINE O'CAMPO IE P INT
Realizin our good fortune

AATA isn't the model of
efficiency people think it is

takes - as corporat
that students at thi
tive actions thesec
ger future. To star
to build the Chevr

I spent the weekend before last at a YMCA
camp near Jackson, Mich. for a leader retreat
with the Ginsberg Center's Alternative Spring
Break program. It was a great way to spend a
bye-week Saturday. We played a lot of group-
bonding games, ate s'mores around a bonfire and
slept in wooden cabins. In between, we worked
on learning how to identify with people from
other cultures, communicate in new ways and
acknowledge the suffering of the people with
whom we'll be working.
I woke up Sunday morning totally pumped
for Spring Break. But our final activity got me
thinking: How much did we really learn this
weekend?
We're all students at the University of Michi-
gan, which makes us all pretty lucky people.
We're extremely fortunate to be well-off enough
that we can devote time during the school year
and our entire Spring Break to helping others
who don't have a lot of the privileges we take for
granted. It was these thoughts that slapped me
in the face Sunday morning as we reflected on
the weekend's best and worst experiences.
The answers were fairly uniform. Good things
included getting to know everyone, hanging out
around the campfire and getting excited for
our trips. The bad things were being cold in the
cabins at night, not showering and not having.
enough time to finish our homework.
That's when I realized: We're not getting it,
are we? We spent the weekend playing games
intended to teach us how to communicate,
empathize and work with people from different
cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. But
then we missed the point of the experiences that
might have really taught us somnething about
these people, how they live and work and how
they suffer. It was definitely enlightening to
work out a problem when no one in your group
can talk, some people are blindfolded and one

person can't move, but that didn't impact me as
much as my realization Sunday morning.
Those are just games. We enjoyed them and
learned something, but we still complained
when we were cold at night. We didn't shower
one night, but we ate all our meals in a cafeteria.
For the people we're going to spend our spring
breaks helping, this isn't a weekend thing, and
it isn't a game. They're always cold and always
hungry. They never get to take a hot shower or
brush their teeth, and they don't wake up after a
chilly nighton a camp mattress and eat pancakes
someone else cookedbefore driving home. Some
sleep on the ground, without even the comfort-
ers we pulled off our beds, and they have no
money for food and nowhere to cook it even if
they could buy it. They can't grab an extra hood-
ie because they don't have a first one, and they
don't have chemistry homework from one of the
best universities in the country hanging over
their heads. It's enough if they can read.
It seems to me that in those few hours we
spent being cold and not quite clean, we could
have learned more if we had only stepped out-
side the box of our own temporary discomforts
and realized that for so many people, this is
reality.
Don't get me wrong: I love Alternative Spring
Break and everything it stands for. And I'm
more excited than I can say for my trip and for
the year I get to spend working with this amaz-
ing group of people who are willing to give so
much of their time and energy to make a differ-
ence in this world. I just think it would be good
for us and for those who will benefit from our-
help if every once in a while we took the time to
realize how fortunate we are. I think this would
remind us to complain a little less about things
that are momentary annoyances.
Madeline O'Campo is anS LSA junior.

TO THE DAILY: and assemble the v
I find it amusing that the Daily in its recent editorial has That's right - citie
been duped into believing that the AATA is an efficiently tery labs and hirin
run operation (Driving in a new direction, 09/22/2008). And chose Warren and I
I find myself angered that the Daily made this statement breaking researcha
regarding the University bus system: "Luckily, the Univer- Its cross-town ri
sity has a good model for its system right here in Ann Arbor: shut down, its Mic
the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority." . fuel-efficient, awar
How is efficiency measured? Let's compare some num- I also hope that
bers. The University bus system costs approximately $60 these "deified auto
per hour to operate, and transported more than 5.9 million funds for classroon
passengers last year. AATA costs more than $100 per hour resulting in the Cl
to operate, and transported considerably fewer passengers Hall on North Car
than the University system. A large part of AATA's success and the citizens of
is due to the University pumping millions of dollars into not only for their t
AATA's coffers so that the M-Ride program and several living.
other services can be operated.
Efficiency? AATA lost more than $29,000 on its Art Fair Robert Cudini
shuttle this summer, and will lose even more money from Engineeringsenior
insistingto keep runningthe football shuttle. Over the next
year, the efficiently run AATA will spend more than $1 mil-
lion to replace the fare boxes and other money counting Reacting t
software it now uses. Need I go on?
The Universitybussystemisnotperfect.We doneedsome only jurUuh
fix-ups, especially in the area of communications. And yes,
our buses are extremely crowded all day, to the point that TO THE DAILY:
we are passing up people every day. This must be addressed In his column W
quickly. The University community, though, cannot afford shoulder, 09/23/20(
letting its bus system use the AATA as an example. presidential nomin
Problems with the University bus system should be the influence and p
directed to the administration or the University's Board of growing anti-Ames
Regents, as they may not be aware of the problems. I sin- cy. Hasn't he learne
cerely hope that the new Transportation and Parking Stu- ventionism? We ha
dent Advisory committee makes a positive difference for the Afghanistan for six
bus system. I suggest that one of the first issues addressed be of these preemptive
determining what is more important: transportation around It's time to wake
campus or to Briarwood Mall. billion toxic assets

ionsin allindustries have - Iwouldhope
s university would learn about the posi-
companies are taking to ensure a stron-
t, how about General Motors's decision
olet Volt's engine at a new plant in Flint
vehicle at Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly.
s in Michigan. When settingup new bat-
g specialized engineers, the automaker
Milford as a global center forthis ground-
and development.
val Ford Motor Co. decided to retool, not
higan Truck Assembly in Wayne to build
d-winning cars.
everyone at the University realizes that
executives" made the decision to donate
ms, labs and buildings at the University,
hrysler Center and Lee Iacocca Lecture
mpus. For years, students, their families
Michigan have relied on the automakers
ransportation but also their standard of
o Russia with force
ers our problems
ednesday, Alex Prasad (More than a cold
08) sounded as naive as Republican vice
nee Sarah Palin. Prasad wants to "undo
ower" of Russia. He wants to "tackle this
rican influence" with force, not diploma-
ed from the failed policy of foreign inter-
ve been in wars in Iraq for five years and
years. Hasn't he witnessed the damage
e wars?
eup. Look at the $10 trillion of debt, $700
relief and the crumbling domestic infra-
suggests "maintaining peace through
do we draw this so-called "strength"?
crisis or the housing market meltdown?
TERS TO THE EDITOR:
couraged to submit letters to the
hould be less than 300 words and
e writer's full name and University
ibmissions become property of the
o not print anonymous letters.
ers to tothedaily@umich.edu.

Ken Bowman
The letter writer is a transit coach operatorforcthe University's
Parkingft Transportation Services.
Auto industry deserves more
credit than the Daily gives it
TO THE DAILY:
In mytime atthe University, Ihave lost count of the num-
ber of times that the Daily has criticized and blamed the
automotive industry, whether for dwindling jobs, environ-
mental impact or anything in between. As I read Wednes-
day's editorial (The greener grass, 09/24/2008), I started to
wonder if any article or editorial inthe Daily would actually
highlight some of the benefits and accomplishments of the
automakers.
While Iwill admit that these companies have made mis-

structure. Prasad
strength." Where,
From the financial
Please tell me.
George Dong
LSA senior
LETI
Readers are en
editor. Letters s
must include th
affiliation. All su
Daily. We d
Send lett

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