4A - Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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the University of Michigan since 1890.
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Ann Arbor, MI 48109
EDITOR IN CHIEF
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solelythe views of their authors.
MSA needs competitive elections to inspire better turnout
U ness yOu religiously read sidewalk chalkings, you prob-
ably aren't aware that Michigan Student Assembly elec-
tions are today and tomorrow. The reason you may not be
aware of the elections is that they don't matter all that much. Few
students will vote, and the Michigan Action Party, because it's the
only serious party running, will inevitably sweep the races and con-
tinue its one-party rule. But as long as MSA remains dominated by
one serious party, students have no way to hold it accountable for its
unfulfilled promises so it will get little done. What students need is
an MSA election that isn't an uncontested farce.
This team has no confidence, man."
- Chris Spielman, former Detroit Lions and Ohio State defensive linebacker, commenting
on the Michigan Wolverines football team, as reported yesterday by The Detroit News.
A leaderless state
J 's a bad time to be in Michi- their 30 years, retire, suck the sweet were willing to work, live and start
gan. Winter is coming. Jobs are nectar of pension benefits and rack a family. With the notable exception
scarce. Detroit is anarchic. The up astronomic health care bills. Or, of a few major cities, it's still a nice
fate of the state's in other words, stuck in the mid-20th place, especially here in Ann Arbor.
economic founda- century. What Michigan doesn't have is any
tion, the Big Three, You can't argue that Michigan leadership. We have a state legisla-
is in the unpredict- workers aren't somewhat behind the ture that apparently doesn't believe
able hands of Con- times. But I'm not sure why people Michigan workers can become any-
gress - the same are writing them off. Sure, a lot of thing more than underperforming
Congress in which them don't have jobs now. And yes, factory line workers because it won't
a mutiny is being they are fleeing the state at unheard invest anything extra in them or their
planned against of rates. But according to the 2008 children. Caseinpoint: Between2002
Michigan icon Rep. GARY State Technology and Science Index, and 2007, higher education funding
John Dingell. The GRACA Michigan is in the middle of the road in Michigan fell by more than 10per-
state's main escape among states' worker technological cent, while nationwide, it rose more
from reality, its assets. That's not great, but it's not than 15 percent.
sports teams, has terrible either. Thenthere's this place
turned into a source of depression. -- one of the best public universities
And with the holiday season on the in the country and the world. And
horizon, everyone gets to look for- there are the 14 other public univer- Nothing's w rong
ward to hectic, overheated and over- sities, which house just fewer than
priced malls, mounds of new credit 250,000 students. with M ichigan, just
card debt to please ungrateful chil- I believe an X factor should be
dren and plenty of awkward, embar- included in there, too: drive. Though those in charge.
rassing family outings. no study or survey could quantify
Like all tough, depressing times, this, people in this state are willingto
that means Michigan has just two work and work hard. The auto indus-
options for moving forward. First, try would never have gotten a foot- And we have a governor who
citizens could wallow in their sor- hold here if that weren't the case. arrived in 2003 as a potential sav-
rows, get drunk, blame everyone else But Michigan's workforce was only for and has since failed to convince
for screwing them over, riot, secede one thing that helped make this state anyone that Michigan matters. Only
from the Union and form a province one of America's most important now that the Big Three are imploding
in Canada, where instantly everyone economic hubs. Water was another. has she really taken Michigan's case
will get health care and become happy We often take it for granted now, but to the country, and it looks like she
and good at playing hockey. Or, Michi- water was key in the 20th century is failing. What we may be left with
gan can realize that almost everything for transportation, agriculture and, after that is a lot more jobless men
that once made this state great is still in general, supporting human life. and women, a lot less tax revenue and
here - what's missing is even the It may be 2008, but the last time I a lot more people leaving.
slightest notion of leadership. checked all three of those things still What we need is someone who can
For starters, take Michigan's work- matter a lot, and we still have the stepback,tell Michiganresidents that
force. Once considered the driving water.Before other states startedbeg- they have the ability to rebuild this
force behind the rise of Henry Ford's ging for a few drops, Michigan, Can- state, and then give them the resourc-
ragtag automotive operation bal- ada and the other Great Lakes states es to do it. Thatsounds simple. But no
looned into a global success, Michi- were smart enough to push through a one has done that. Until then, the bad
gan's workforce is now considered monumental measure to protect this times will continue.
one of the state's biggest liabilities. water from outsiders, too.
It is basically characterized as an And lastly, Michigan became Gary Graca is the Daily's editorial
obese bunch of unionized assembly importantinthe20thcenturybecause page editor. He can be reached
line laborers, who are content to work it's a nice place - somewhere people at gmgraca@umichedu.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. Letters should be less than 300 words and must
include the writer's full name and University affiliation. Letters are edited for style, length, clarity and
accuracy. All submissions become property of the Daily. We do not print anonymous letters.
Send letters to email@example.com.
JOSH WEINGAST|I P T
A message for Rich Rod
In this year's election, if you wish to call
it that, roughly 40 candidates will vie for
30 open MSA seats. More than half of these
candidates will be from MAP, and as usual,
the party's members are promising sweep-
ing generic improvements like increasing
wireless Internet in residence halls and
providing late-night University transporta-
tion. The Defend Affirmative Action Party
is also throwing in its sacrificial candidates
with their single-issue focus. And a hand-
ful of unassuming, but somewhat impres-
sive, independent candidates are running,
too. But neither DAAP nor the independents
stand much of a chance against MAP's elec-
As usual, no one is expecting voter turn-
out to be particularly groundbreaking.
Though MSA President Sabrina Shingwani
and vice President Arvind Sohoni prom-
ised last semester that they would work
to increase voter turnout in elections and
overall interest in MSA, those efforts have
all but died. Early plans to advertise MSA
elections on the backgrounds of University
computers were abandoned, and candidates
have returned to their usual chalking and
flyering. That's a shame, because, as Shin-
gwani admits, higher voter turnout would
make the assembly more productive and
And failingto get students to vote is hard-
ly MSA's only shortcoming. The assembly
just doesn't have a very good record of big
accomplishments to grab students' atten-
tion. The online housing forum, much like
MSA's online course advice tool, offers little.
MSA's struggle with the city to improve off-
campus lighting is ongoing, as it has been on
and off for the past few years. The assembly
hasn't been very vocal on major policy issues
like tuition, health care and student input.
And the MSA website - which presidential
candidates have been promising to update
for years -is still glaringly bare. When these
disappointments are considered alongside
the modest successes (bringing T. Boone
Pickens to campus, constructing a giant
'M' in the student section of the Big House),
MSA seems to have achieved little.
The only reason that MAP - and MSA as a
whole - can get away with such a poor per-
formance is that they have no serious oppo-
sition. In a single-party system, students feel
like their votes don't matter. Once elected,
student representatives can then sidestep
campaign promises. And ultimately, a single-
party system makes accountability a myth.
The fact that MSA representatives aren't
fulfilling their campaign promises should
be a great reason for students to go vote. Yet,
they still don't, which means some of the
responsibility is on them. What we're left
with is an election no one cares much about
and one that doesn't matter much. Students
should get involved and press for better
choices in the election and demand better
representation. We should expect some-
thing more from the student body and our
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Elise Baun, Harun Buljina, Ben Caleca, Satyajeet Deshmukh,
Brian Flaherty, Matthew Green, Emmarie Huetteman, Emma Jeszke, Shannon Kellman,
Edward McPhee, Emily Michels, Kate Peabody, Matthew Shutler, Robert Soave, Eileen Stahl,
Jennifer Sussex, Imran Syed, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Margaret Young
SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
Despite losing season, still
hope for Wolverines at OSU
TO THE DAILY:
As the game against Ohio State approaches, a
growing sense of doubt about the possibility of
a Michigan victory has enveloped Ann Arbor -
and for good reason. The city and the University
have witnessed a season full of disappointment
that has surely humbled many Michigan foot-
ball fans. Many of us have spent hours defending
head football coach Rich Rodriguez and the team
against verbal assaults from the Spartans, Fight-
ing Irish and Utes.
A friend of mine noted recently that even if
the team improves next year, we would be in our
late 50s by the time the University's bowl streak
reaches 33 seasons again. If the Buckeyes win for
the fifth straight year, it would be the first time in
the rivalry's history that the team would accom-
plish that feat.
So why believe that our football team can
emerge victorious? Because on cold November
Saturdays in Ohio, greatness can happen when
we least expect it.
Government bailouts have
TO THE DAILY:
When it comes to spending other people's
money, the Daily is awfully generous. That was
the case in its editorial yesterday about a bail-
out for the Big Three (Bailing out our future,
A taxpayer-funded bailout for the Big Three
can't be defended on moral grounds because it is
wrongto rob Peter to pay Paul, regardless of how
many skilled lobbyists Paul may have in Wash-
ington D.C. Nor can it be defended on practical
grounds, since this would be a subsidy for the
bloated and inefficient management practices
that got automakers here in the first place. A bail-
out would "spread the wealth" from poortaxpay-
ers to rich executives.
Bailouts also misallocate resources by plac-
ing capital in the hands of politicians rather than
market forces. Supporting Congress's use of a
limitless credit card that will be charged to our
children and grandchildren to bailout private
companies is morally reprehensible and confus-
ing public policy. It would make more sense to
throw our money down a hole.
The letter writer is a co-chair of the University's
chapter of the College Libertarians.
Great female comedians do
exist outside of SNL'
TO THE DAILY:
There was some trickery that took place in
Michael Passman's arts column yesterday about
the female cast of "Saturday Night Live" (The
funny females of 'SNL', 11/18/2008). Passman
wrote that "as a whole women aren't exactly the
most hilarious people on Earth" andtugged atmy
feminist heartstrings by failing to consider all of
the great women comedians that exist now and
have yet tobe discovered.
I agree with Passman that for our generation
SNL is not the pinnacle of hilariousness. For this
reason, I would then ask that he not contradict
himself by saying SNL is exemplar because it
exhibits the only "funny females." I also agree
that we should acknowledge Tina Fey, Amy Poe-
hler and Kristen Wigg for their work this season
in bringing SNL back to life.
However, Passman's position essentially pre-
sented an exception, not the rule. I can think of
many women that both sexes continue to laugh
with outside of SNL: Wanda Sykes, Margaret
Cho, Amy Sedaris, Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar,
Ellen Degeneres and Chelsea Handler. And the
fact that this is by no means an exhaustive list
proves that it is far easier to rely on vintage ste-
reotypes than to actually consider the possibility
that maybe women do have something to say and
by golly, maybe then can actually be funny and
clever while saying it.
As a women's study major and a "closer observ-
er of humanity" as Passman called himself, I will
save everyone some time: Let's take the sex and
gender out of it (this might prove difficult), listen
to the jokes and decide for ourselves what is medi-
ocre and true comedic art. It may turn out there
are more funny females than we anticipated if we
listen more with our ears and less with our eyes.
Yesterday, The Associated Press change quickly,'
released an article in which Rich All of Rodrigt
Rodriguez was quoted as saying that decessors hadi
he wantsto tell Michigan fans to "geta program was"
life" and "take a look at the economy." ent pool or depi
As a University graduate and football each of those c'
season ticket holder, these statements way to best use
insultedme. Rodriguez is ahighlypaid to remain comp
state employee and he should think games. Rodrig
twice before he suggests that Michi- he's either unab
gan students, alumni and fans "get a so. In fact, he wa
life" and "look at the economy." ing to retain som
The state of Michigan is perhaps in the program i
the state hardest hit by the troubled competitive.
economy and the Michigan students, In addition t
alumni and fans don't need to be the immense se
reminded about the sad state of the Michigan studei
economy. Many of those fans live in Rodriguez also s
Michigan and are personally hurt by derstood the int
the situation. A lot of those Michigan igan fan base.
taxpayers (the same folks who indi- recognized thatr
rectly pay Rodriguez's mega salary) students or grad
turn to Michigan football as a way to versity and, ther
escape the major problems they've smart. When hi
been facing in their lives for several like suggesting t
years - not just the last 6 months.
Does Rodriguez actually believe
that Michigan fans, of all fans, don't
understand that General Motors is ROSE JAFFE
about to go out of business?
The most disappointing observa- E-MAIL ROSE A
tion of all is that, after having been
part of the University for 10 months,
he still can't understand one of the
things that makes the University such
a special place: the immense pride
the students and alumni have in the
University of Michigan, including
its football program. It may not have
been the most dominant program in
the country in the last few decades
(though it once was), but it's certainly
been the most consistently strong. For
40 years, the students, alumni and
fans have known that on any given
Saturday, they would be able to take
pride in watching Michigan football
and on about 77 percent of those days,
feel good having done so. This year,
that all changed.
Being the best in the country at
something is very special and pro-
vides people associated with that
experience a little more to feel good
about. That's especially important
when people have tough challenges to
face. The Michigan football program
was No. lin the country at four things:
longest period of time since last los-
ing season, longest streak attending
a bowl game, most number of weeks
being ranked in the AP poll and most
successful program of all time based
on wins and winning percentage.
Under Rodriguez, the program has
already managed to lose two of these
accomplishments, is on the verge
of losing a third and, if things don't
will lose the fourth.
uez's immediate pre-
years in which the
"rebuilding" its tal-
eted by injuries, but
oaches figured out a
the talent they had
petitive and win ball
uez has proven that
le or unwilling to do
sn't even able or will-
ne of the better talent
n an effort to be more
o not understanding
nse of pride among
nts, alumni and fans,
seems to have misun-
elligence of the Mich-
Somehow, he hasn't
many of these fans are
uates of this top uni-
efore, are pretty darn
e says stupid things,
hey get a life and take
a look at the economy, he only makes
things much worse for himself.
At some point, Rodriguez needs to
stop blaming this disaster of a season
on the inexperienced talent and take
some responsibility for the failure. He
also needs to recognize what impact
that failure has had on the pride of
the largest alumni base in the coun-
try, many of whom pay his salary
while living in the state with the sec-
ond worst unemployment rate in the
country. He needs to at least act like
he cares about the reputation of this
university and its football program
more than his reputation as a coach.
I think he owes us all an apology -
if not for our loss of pride during this
disaster of a football season, then at
least for the insinuation that we don't
understand the state of the economy.
But let's not forget: It's great to be a
Josh Weingast is a University alum.