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February 05, 2009 - Image 4

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4A - Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4e , Iicl igan 4,3a*lg

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu
GARY GRACA ROBERT SOAVE COURTNEY RATKOWIAK
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Low-income living
Affordable housing needed by students and residents alike
orget struggling with classes or trying to balance extracur-
ricular activities, one of the most intimidating aspects of
college is trying to find reasonably priced housing within
walking distance of Central Campus. Across the city, exorbitant
rent has left students and permanent residents in a tough finan-
cial spot. For residents, however, that problem could be alleviated
if a new proposal to convert three downtown city parking lots into
low-income housing is executed. More low-income housing for Ann
Arbor residents is definitely a good thing, but the city shouldn't for-
get about its students. Initiatives to provide students with the same
kind of affordable housing should also be in the works.

No, the Republicans were not
all standing in one corner.!
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D - Minn.), commenting on the interactions of President Obama's
Super Bowl guests, as reported yesterday by The New York Times.
HARUN BULJINA E-MAIL HARUN AT BULJINAH@UMICH.EDU.
Maybeout of irony.
Do you think modern
science could bring it
back?
ndigen ous empowerment

Community development officials from
the city of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw
County recently proposed conversion of
three parking lots to create between 60 and
100 low-income units. These units would be
targeted at people who make 10 to 15 per-
cent of the area's median income of $51,232.
That would include many of the permanent
city residents unable to afford the rising rent
across }the city Though expected to cost
between $6.3 and $14.7 million, federal tax
credits would cover approximately 80 per-
cent of building expenses - and the city has
students to thank for that.
The city is eligible for much of its federal
funding due to the fact that students are
included in the federal census. The presence
of students makes the average city income
appear lower than it actually is because
many students are dependent on their par-
ents and, on paper, have no income. This
lowers the city's average income and the city
can receive more federal dollars. So if the
city is going to profit from the presence of
students in Ann Arbor, students should be
benefiting as well.
Though rising rent is the result of stu-
dents' willingness to pay up, what students
really need is affordable housing close to
campus. And recent developments like 601

Forest have done little to ease the pressure
on students' bank accounts or demonstrate
that the city is ready to get serious about
affordable housing. It's time for the city to
step in and give students the same options
it wants to give residents - after all, the stu-
dents are partly the cause of these federal
dollars.
Ann Arbor residents and students all
need and deserve more low-income hous-
ing. Close, affordable housing has benefits
of all sorts. In cities like Ann Arbor, lim-
ited mass transit options necessitate living
close to the city. Low-income families can't
afford to move further out to find lower rent
when they still have to commute to the city.
Plus, if financially disadvantaged people are
forced to live further and further away from
campus it segregates Ann Arbor by income.
Local, affordable housing also has other
advantages, like decreasing the need for car
traffic, clearing busy streets and helping the
environment.
The proposal could provide some resi-
dents with the housing they need. But that
only solves part of the problem - students
make up an important part of the city and
their needs have to be considered. The city
government should spend some of those fed-
eral dollars on helping us out, too.

olivia, the poorest nation in
South America, is on the verge
of adopting a new constitution.
After approximate-
ly 500 years of rule
by Europeans and
their descendants,
the country elected
its first indigenous
president, Evo
Morales, in 2006.
Morales has since 3
worked to remove
the inequalities IBRAHIIM
stemming from the KAKWAN
concentration of
land and resources
in the hands of a
few wealthy families. You may be
thinking, 'That's great, but for those
of us who are not Bolivian, why does
this matter?'
The most immediate answer is
natural resources. As the supply of oil
becomes increasingly unstable and
consumers seek greener alternatives
to gasoline power, lithium ion batter-
ies are expected to take on a greater
share of the power storage burden.
Bolivia has approximately 50 percent
of the-world's lithium reserves, along
with a sizeable amount of the world's
tungsten, tin, antimony, and others
- many of which are used in the cre-
ation of steel.
Companies including BMW, Mit-
subishi and Michigan-based General
Motors are currently developing elec-
tric cars that rely on lithium batteries;
the GM Volt is slated to be released
next year, and cell phones and laptops
already use them. At a time when car
buyers are few, lower lithium prices
would contribute to a lower over-
all cost for the new electric cars and
potentially drive higher sales.
Unfortunately, the leftward lean-
ings of the Bolivian government have
made it difficult for foreign compa-
nies to tap that country's mineral
resources, and given the complexity
of lithium refinement, the Bolivians
are not in a position to undertake the
task alone on any great scale. In 2006,

Morales announced the national-
ization of oil and gas. As recently as
January 23,,the Bolivian government
took control of a BP subsidiary. This
will earn the government additional
revenues, but given the potential for
a nearly total loss of investments, few
new companies are willing to venture
into Bolivia. The resources lay unused
while Bolivia and potential investors
lose.
The seeming justice of nationaliza-
tion, indigenous empowerment and
land redistribution after hundreds of
years of oppression is understandable
but impractical. Saul Villegas, the
official in charge of lithium extrac-
tion, only highlights the ridiculous-
ness of the government's position;
"Maybe there could be the possibil-
ity of foreigners accepted as minority
partners, or better yet, as our clients,"
he told the New York Times this
week. Bolivian miners are currently
loading salt into trucks with shovels,
and the government expects foreign
companies to set up the industry, only
to become minority partners while
risking nationalization.
Bolivia's indigenous populationhas
had a longer period of exploitation
than many other indigenous people,
partially bankrolling Spain for hun-
dreds of years and then the Euro-
pean-descended Bolivian elite after
the country gained independence.
But taking back the country and its
resources overnight is not a good idea,
nor does it excuse wishful thinking.
Granted, "imperialist" resource
exploitation agreements impose
unfair terms on the hostcountries, but
they work in the long run to develop
their economies. These agreements
are what fueled the growth of the
Middle Eastern oil kingdoms. When
the sheikhs were rich in oil but lacked
capital and drilling experience, these
imperialist agreements helped to
transform the oil under their feet into
the cash that their nations were built
upon.
Bolivia's new constitution incorpo-
rates a land redistribution program

that will wrest control of hundreds of
square miles of land from the wealthy
and transfer it to the state 'and the
poor, but this will also destroy some
of the country's most productive
farms. On the surface, indigenous
empowerment may seem like a good
thing. But after years of operating far
behind modern methods of efficiency,
empowerment will hurt the fragile
economy of Bolivia, which is already
in decline due to tumbling metal pric-
es. Of course, it is the "empowered"
(i.e., the indigenous people) who will
suffer most and who may end up
worse off than they were before.
Nationalizing
industries can kill
a new economy.
Take the case of Zimbabwe. After
the black majority took control of the
country (then called Rhodesia) from
the white minority in 1980, various
black African factions engaged in a
civil war. In the early 1990s, the coun-
try was gripped by political turmoil
with state employees striking over
low wages. By 1997, 36 percent of the
population had HIV, and the land
redistribution of 2000 transformed
the country from a model of African
agricultural efficiency into the site of
a cholera outbreak and home of the
$100 trillion Zimbabwean bill.
A large part of Zimbabwe's plight
is due to mismanagement and corrup-
tion, but a sense of entitlement along
ethnic and national lines helped it to
take root.
Luckily for Morales and Bolivia,
Chavez and his oil money are there
to help if the going gets tough. In the
meantime, I'll have to pay more for
that new laptop battery.
- Ibrahim Kakwan can be
reached at ijameel@umich.edu.

I

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. Letters should be less thar 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 tothedaily@umich.edu.
ST T T TEE TSEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
Lower drinking age creates because I enjoy interacting with people.
intellectual drinking climate EitanInga

I

TO THE DAILY:
In his September 11, 2008 column, (A toast
to Amethyst, 09/11/08), now-Interfraternity only wors
Council President Ari Parritz discussed the
merits of the The Amethyst Initiative, which
"wants us to take a closer look at the efficacy TO THE DAILY:
of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of How many pe
1984." sion of1981-82?V
Having spent close to a month studying at higher unemploy
Oxford University in the United Kingdom now, the govern
where the drinking age is 18, I feel compelled country out of it
to emphasize this issue. Keep this in min
I will not waste your time making the usual to yesterday's col
arguments for lowering the drinking age: ulatingSolution, 0
reversing the "forbidden fruit" temptation or Green seems
we can go to war, vote and get the death pen- rowed $900 billi
alty but can't drink, etc. ment and expans
Instead, I implore you to consider the link to cover up politi
between a positive drinking culture and billion to be spe
healthy socio-cultural development. One only considered stims
needs to spend a few weeks mingling with spending)..
international students to realize that American The remaining
youths are rapidly falling behind our interna- most extensive
tional counterparts in terms of our depth and grams and pork i
breadth of knowledge, intellectual curiosity, dent Obama pro
sense of collective responsibility and general this package - t
ability to conduct positive, daily social inter- each. Green arg
actions. should be consid
Americanuniversityculture revolves around Republicans and
drinking. English university culture revolves ground between
around conversation while drinking. Can you ernment never ci
think of the last time you pounded back five tribute whilemon
shots of Grey Goose and had a stimulating con- Whenever the gt
versation about the technological innovations things like the T
in microprocessing chips, international poli- tration, hardly a
tics, the theater or a good book? Since Ameri- The most am
can students aren't allowed to drink at a bar, describesthe fail
we drink in our rooms, with music blasting age was passed i
and the TV on. Drinking has become as selfish ently learning fr
as it is social. them isn't an op
What if on a Friday after classes, a group of money.
freshmen went to the Brown Jug, ordered a Government is
pitcher of beer, sat face-to-face and interacted? problems - gove
Would they get drunk? Quite possibly. But they Just as in the G
would strengthen their friendships in positive ernment stopped
ways and help perpetuate the deep bonds that recovery came q
are integral to any society. generations do n
Pub drinking is a highly pleasant experience stupidity of the p
I was deprived of growing up in the U.S., only to
realize its priceless value now that I'm abroad. Samvan Kleef
Not just because I may enjoy, tasty ale but also LSA fpshman

stimulus plan will
,en the economy
ople have heard about the reces-
ery few, because although we had
ment and inflation than we have
went didn't try to stimulate the
and the recession quickly abated.
d when considering my objection
umn by Matthew Green (A Stim-
02/04/09).
to imply that a completely bor-
on worth of constituent appease-
ion of entitlements is the solution
icians' mistakes. Out of the $900
nt, less than 10 percent can be
ulus (tax cuts and infrastructure
g 90 percent of this money is the
enlargement of entitlement pro-
n the history of this nation. Presi-
mises four million new jobs with
hat totals to an absurd $225,000
ues that this waste of money
ered a "middle ground" between
Democrats. There is no middle
being right or wrong. The gov-
reates anything, it can only redis-
neyleaksoutofeverytransaction.
overnment "creates" jobs, we get
ransportation Security Adminis-
shining beacon of efficiency.
using line by Green is when he
ure ofthe previous stimulus pack-
n the beginning of 2008. Appar-
om mistakes and not repeating
tion when considering taxpayer
s not the solution to our economic
rnment is what causes problems.
reat Depression, once the gov-
d trying to control the economy,
uickly. Let us hope that future
not bear the burden of the fiscal
revious generations.

4

ELISE BAUNve eitT
Give credit where credit is due

I

In light of the recent economy,
some Michigan students who decided
to attend college out-of-state might
find themselves regretting that deci-
sion. To help them out, the University
is considering re-admitting them as
transfer students and allowing them
to pay in-state tuition. This would be
a nice gesture if it actually alleviated
some financial woes. But in reality,
transfer students often have to repeat
too many credits to make this a practi-
cal solution.
Prospective transfer students can
determine which of their credits will
transfer by looking it up online, but
the first problem with the process is
that the website is nearly impossible
to find. When students do find it, they
will learn that the University claims
C grades or higher in their classes are
likely to successfully transfer. Unfor-
tunately, this is misleading.
Many students who attempt to
transfer to the University find them-
selves needing to repeat courses that
they've already taken - something
to do with other college classes not
matching up to the University of
Michigan's caliber, I suppose.
And credits that do transfer might
not actually fulfill distribution or
concentration requirements, instead
only counting toward the 120 credits
needed to graduate. The decision on
whether or not to aqcept the credits is

based on how the course description
at the old university compares to the
classes offered here. If the descrip-
tion is close enough, the credits might
transfer.
Since many students wind up need-
ing to retake courses based on this
system, they end up staying longer at
the University. Transfers will end up
spending so much money and extra
time that they may wish they should
have just stayed at their original col-
leges. It's unrealistic to assume that
allowing more students to transfer
will help them with theii troubles.
It's not just the problem of students
needing to repeat courses. If students
received Advanced Placement credit
at the university they were originally
attending and then took courses above
that level, they may still have to take
introductory courses here because the
AP score threshold for college credit
won't necessarily match up.
One of my friends went to Michi-
gan Tech, took upper-level physics
courses and wanted to transfer to the
University of Michigan to enroll in
the aerospace engineering program.
Unfortunately, his AP score doesn't
count here, so he would have had to
take the introductory physics courses
here before he could start the rest of
his education, even though his cred-
its for higher physics courses would
transfer. Where is the logic in this?

The final flaw in this system is the
lack of communication between trans-
fer students and advisors. Transfer
students fill out tons of paperwork,
have their coursework scrutinized
and are then put through a subjective
system that determines which credits
will transfer and which won't. Not all
advisors can say for certain what the
department will accept. This means
that prospective students might be
told by an advisor that a lot of their
classes will count here, but then have
their hard work rejected by someone
else who hasn't even talked to them.
It is admirable of the University
to try to help out students who wish
to transfer back in state. Hopefully
accepting more students back into the
University will help keep jobs in the
state and help to repair our dismal
economy. But if the University really
wants to make this work, it needs to
help those students who do make the
final decision to transfer here. They
need to be able to count more credits,
look at each student individually and
be more logical in the admissions pro-
cess without bogging students down
with paperwork. It's not enough just
to tell students they can transfer here
- the University can and should do
more to make this process less painful
for all prospective transfer students.
Elise Bapn is an LSA senior.

I

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