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October 22, 2008 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2008-10-22

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4A - Wednesday, October 22, 2008

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





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The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position oftthe Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Energizing your effort
GreenCurrents an example of alternative energy's high cost
T hese days, you can't be green unless you're in the black.
Unfortunately, that's a luxury many Michigan residents
and businesses can't afford - as much as they might want
it. That seems to be the problem with DTE Energy's GreenCurrents,
a program that the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center says is little
more than an attempt to look energy conscious. While GreenCur-
rents customers believe they are paying a small premium for renew-
able energy, most of their money has actually gone toward overhead,
causing many to cry "greenwash." As well-intentioned as DTE may
be, it and Americans must realize that it costs more than a couple
extra bucks to build an alternative energy infrastructure.

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Lost opportunities for the left

Launched by DTE Energy last year,
GreenCurrents is a program that allows
customers to purchase renewable energy
to power their homes and businesses or
match their non-renewable usage start-
ing at just $2.50 per month. While roughly
14,000 customers in southeast Michigan
think they're paying for alternatives like
solar and wind power, 85 percent of that
money covered marketing and administra-
tive costs in 2007. And instead of putting
the rest toward developing its own tech-
nologies, DTE used it to purchase renew-
able energy certificates, compensating for
its own inefficiency by investing in other
companies producing alternative energy.
In an era of heightened environmental
consciousness, utility companies like DTE
need to be shifting to alternative energy
sources. But with Michigan's economy fall-
ing on hard times, it's also hard to convince
people to pay more, even to protect the envi-
ronment. Therefore, DTE chose to make its
GreenCurrents program look affordable
and, thus, attractive to consumers.
The problem, though, is that DTE's small
price hike is hardly enough to cover the
high costs of building new infrastructure.
Usually companies would share that kind
of burden with their customers, especially
when the change is in demand - as it is in
southeastern Michigan. But tacking all of

those costs onto consumers' bills would
have killed this program. As a result,
there's not much of a change to speak of.
DTE's greening problems are emblem-
atic of America's. DTE's customers want
renewable energy. Renewable energy costs
money. DTE doesn't have that money. This
is the same situation that exists with many
environmental initiatives, from fuel effi-
ciency standards to tax-and-trade caps.
The solution requires a cooperative
effort and a dose of reality. In this case,
that means DTE is going to have to charge
more, and its customers are going to have
to pay more. It's an unfortunate reality.
Creative solutions shouldn't be dis-
counted here either. As city of Ann Arbor's
Energy Commission and the Ann Arbor-
based Ecology Center note, DTE has an
obligation to provide consumers the prod-
uct they are buying: green energy. These
organizations advocate long-term pur-
chasing agreement with local alternative
energy developers like wind farmers as
one way to provide alternative energy and
stimulate the local economy.
The underlying truth is that Americans
want to pay their extra $2.50 a month and
believe they are transforming our energy
crisis. It isn't. It will take a lot more effort
from citizens, companies and our govern-
ment to do that.

ohn McCain is faltering. As
things stand today in states
like Ohio, Missouri, Virginia,
Florida and North
Carolina, Barack
Obama would need
some seriously
shocking gaffes f
or scandal to not "
break 300 electoral
votes on Nov. 4. '
Conservative com-
mentators, from the IMRAN
Georgetown elite
(George Will) to SYED
the Emerald Coast-
Joe Sixpacks (Joe
Scarborough), have all but conceded
the election on l\cCain's behalf.
They never hold back their criti-
cisms of how McCain has executed
his campaign, but it's become a dis-
turbing fad for conservative com-
mentators to point to a litany of lost
opportunities - as if to say "blame
John McCain and his blunders, not
the peerless platfsrm of the GOP."
If you believe them, then there are
just a handful of little things keeping
McCain from crushing Obama, and
there's nothing fundamentally wrong
with the Republican Party. That
argument is winning for the Repub-
licans even though this election is all
but lost.
Democrats, of course, believe
McCain is only a small part of the
dangerous, flawed ideology employed
by Republicans for the better part of
the decade. So why can't Democrats
convince Americans that the prob-
lem is much bigger than McCain or
even his impish goon Sarah Palin?
Obama invokes "the failed policies of
the Bush administration" at the start
of every sentence as if saying grace
before a meal, but none of that works.
Why? Because when it comes to
sounding out of touch, unemotional
and hopelessly paternalistic, McCain
and Obama are perfect equals.
Take the debate last week, for
ing every juicy bit of Obama's conver-
sation with a plumber (you'd think he

wiretapped the guy ... or planted him),
he was speaking in tired platitudes
accusing Obama of favoring higher
taxes and a redistribution of wealth.
Such ridiculous charges are easily
countered, but we know Obama isn't
one to be succinct. Showing a prow-
ess for droning that would put John
Kerry to shame, Obama never did
address the whole redistribution of
wealth charge, which surely caused
convulsions in the average Ameri-
can's Commie-hating gut.
Obama has said on hundreds of
occasions that he will cut taxes for
the vast majority of Americans, while
raising them on only a select few.
Unfortunately, he has never seen it
fit to explain this scenario with any-
thing resembling emotion or compas-
sion. It wouldn't be too hard to appeal
to morality or fairness, especially
given the current financial crisis, but
that's simply not Obama's game.
From the beginning of the primary
cycle, his game hasbeento be the cool,
calm, unexcitable one. While Hillary
Clinton railed on about experience
and John Edwards ran his unabash-
edly leftist race, Obama filled in the
gaps. Primary voters went for the
choice thatwaseasiestto stomach, the
one who promised change from the
entrenched failures of Washington
(something Clinton couldn't manage),
but not one whose proposals were
radical enough to require contempla-
tion and commitment (Edwards's big-
gest shortcoming).
But wait: I've already declared
Obama the winner, so why does any
of this matter? Well, Obama may win,
but whether progress is made ulti-
mately depends on whether the Dem-
ocratic platform wins. That's much
less certain.
If Edwards was sitting in Obama's
place right now, we would know the
Democratic platform was winning.
Notwithstanding recent revela-
tions of his personal shamefulness,
Edwards was an uncompromising
champion of universal health care,
financial relief for the poor and a
swift end to the war in Iraq - all

issues on which Obama is a follower
but hardly a leader. Confronted with
the redistribution of wealth accusa-
tion, Edwards wouldn't have folded
under its socialist implications, but
more likely would have pointed to the
recent string of corporate bailouts to
say, what's wrong with a little bailout
for the common man?
Instead, Obama is more like Bill
Clinton. He's a smart man who can
be convincing and eloquent, but he
chooses to moderate and mitigate
rather than assertively implementing
what his voters believe is right. When
Clinton did it, they called it triangu-
lation, and from it we got half-assed
policies like the Temporary Aid for
Needy Families (probably a step back
Barack Obama:
not liberal enough
to balance America.
from .the previous system of wel-
fare) and "don't ask, don't tell" (less
discriminatory than before, but still
pretty damn discriminatory).
Even so, many people might say,
what's wrong with compromise and
moderation? Ideally, there is nothing
wrong"with a party being mderate;
in fact, I'd prefer it. But with Repub-
licans catering to the extreme right,
a true moderation of the political
system demands an equally unflinch-
ing, sure-handed party on the left.
We would have had it if Al Gore had
won in 2000. We damn sure would
have had it if Howard Dean had won
in 2004 and probably if Edwards had
won this year.
But it's looking more and more like
we're not going to get it with Barack
Imran Syed was the Daily's
editorial page editor in 2007. He can
be reached at galad@umich.edu.

Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Elise Baun, Harun Buljina, Ben Caleca, Satyajeet Deshmukh,
Brian Flaherty, Matthew Green, Emmarie Huetteman, Emma Jeszke, Shannon Keilman, Edward
McPhee, Emily Michels, Kate Peabody, Matthew Shutler, Robert Soave, Eileen Stahl,
Jennifer Sussex, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Margaret Young

, 'f.



A health care plan for everyone

Cutting cost with competition

The United States spends more money on health
care than any other country in the world, but falls
far behind other developed countries in the care
it provides. In the past eight years alone, health
insurance premiums have doubled, rising 3.7 times
faster than wages. On top of this, 47 million Ameri-
cans still do not have health insurance - includ-
ing 9 million children. Inefficient and poor quality
health care costs our nation up to $100 billion every
year. At this point, we can't afford notto change our
current health care system.
Barack Obama's health care plan provides every
American with access to quality and affordable
health care. First, if you like your current health
insurance, you get to keep it. The change you'll see
under Obama's plan is that your costs will go down
by as much as $2,500 per year. Second, those with-
out insurance will be able to purchase it through
the National Health Insurance Exchange. Through
this program, individuals and families will buy into
a general public plan (with benefits similar to the
Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which
covers members of Congress) or purchase coverage
through private insurance companies.
All insurance providers participating in the pro-
gram will be required to cover pre-existing condi-
tions so that all Americans, regardless of previous
health conditions, can have access to affordable
care. Most important, Obama's plan'will expand
Medicaid, Medicare and the State Children's Health
Insurance Plan by adjusting the eligibility require-
ments to include more uninsured and underinsured
Americans. An Obama administration would also
require that all have health insurance, ensuring
that no child will go without health care any longer.
It's disgraceful that a country as advanced as ours
allows its children to slip under the radar and suffer
from untreated illnesses.
Obama's plan also accounts for all of the costs
of its new programs. Simply eliminating the vast,
costly inefficiencies in our current system will

cover most of these costs. The Obama adminis-
tration will implement a series of reforms. These
include lowering prescription drug costs by allow-
ing more generic drugs into the market, and mov-
ing all medical records onto an electronic database.
The electronic database alone will save our nation
$77 billion.
On the other hand, John McCain wants to tax
health benefits for the first time in American his-
tory. The number of uninsured citizens would
increase over the long-
term. McCain has voted
against increasing fund-
ing for the State Chil-
dren's Health Insurance This is part
Program. His plan also
disregards other crucial series by Coll
care, including mental
health - covered only for Republica
military retirees - and
women's health (McCain important is
and Sarah Palin don't Elec
believe in the importance
of contraception that 98
percent of women use at
some point in their lives).
As college students, we have a particularly vest-
ed interest in the health care debate. Some of us
are already struggling to pay for our own health
insurance. Others are putting themselves at risk
and going without health insurance because its
costs are prohibitive. The vast majority of us will
be dropped from our parents' health insurance as
soon as we finish college, forcing us to find a plan
we can afford. With so much immediately at stake,
we simply can't accept the same old solutions. Make
sure you cast your vote on Nov. 4 for a healthier
This viewpoint was written on behalf of the
University's chapter of the College Democrats.

four i
ege D
.ns th
sues ]

Health care is one the biggest challenges facing
Americans today. The cost of health care is skyrock-
eting and 47 million Americans are uninsured. John
McCain offers a plan that tackles both parts of this
health care crisis by lowering costs to make insur-
ance more affordable and available.
Probably the biggest problem with our health
care system is the cost of insurance. Most coverage
plans cost thousands of dollars and are more costly
than what millions are able to pay. We need to tackle
high costs to make health
insurance more affordable:
John McCain advocates
allowing insurers to com-
n a five-part pete across state lines. Cur-
rently, it is not possible for
emocrats and a person in one state to buy
alcheaper health plan with
at looks at more benefits in another
[eadingupto state. Under McCain's plan,
up if Michigan students find
Day. a cheaper plan in Califor-
nia with more benefits
than their current plan,
those students could buy
the California plan. This
nationwide competition will greatly decrease prices,
as companies would be forced to lower their costs to
compete against other providers and win customers.
Furthermore, McCain plans to give individuals
and families without employer-subsidized health
insurance a tax credit so they can purchase their own
insurance plans. Individuals would get a $2,500 cred-
it, and families would get a $5,000 credit. This credit
is required to go toward buying health insurance, and
if you purchase a plan that is cheaper, you can put
the savings in a "health savings account," for use in
other health-related costs. This tax credit, along with
cheaper plans through nationwide competition, will
make health care more affordable to Americans and
thus help insure millions of uninsured.

Barack Obama has criticized McCain's plan by
saying it taxes health insurance, making insur-
ance unaffordable. This is nonsense. McCain's plan
doesn't tax health insurance for individuals, nor does
it tax employers for providing health care coverage.
Employer-based insurance will show up as income
for the individual, but that tax will be returned to
Americans in the form of a larger tax credit to buy
insurance or put into a health savings account. In the
end, the average American gets more money.
Obama's plan doesn't solve our health care sys-
tem's problems. His plan doesn't adequately address
cost at all. In fact, Obama's plan is a series of require-
ments to employers, hospitals and insurance compa-
nies, all of which will raise insurance costs and make
health care even less affordable for Americans. His
mandate that employers must provide health care to
their employees does nothing to help them provide
cheaper health care. Employers will suffer to meet
the higher costs associated with providing increas-
ingly expensive insurance to their employees. If they
don't provide insurance, they face a tax, one that
would devastate many small businesses. Is this really
change we want?
The United States is facing a massive health care
crisis, and we need real solutions to deal with this,
not a fortune-cookie plan that sounds good, but in
reality does nothing to comprehensively address the
problems with our health care system. John McCain
offers real solutions in a plan that addresses the ris-
ing cost of health care and provides greater access to
insurance to all Americans. We need to provide tax
credits to citizens to make their insurance easier to
purchase, and we need to allow for competition across
state lines to allow for cheaper plans with better cov-
erage. We don't need government mandates. Simply
by reforming the current system, we can provide
greater access to health insurance to all Americans.
This viewpoint was written on behalf of the
University's chapter of the College Republicans.




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