4 - Tuesday, April 7, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com 4
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GARY GRACA ROBERT SOAVE COURTNEY RATKOWIAK
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position oftthe Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Sobering up the sytem
State legislature must pass MIP protection for students
magine this: It's a Saturday night and some students are hav-
ing a good time at a party. After the fifth cup of cheap vodka
and fruit punch, one partier passes out in the bathroom. But
no one calls an ambulance or takes the student to a hospital because
partygoers are afraid they could get slammed with a minor in pos-
session charge. It's a sad truth that Michigan's overzealous drink-
ing laws have made this situation all too possible. Thankfully, a new
proposal in the state legislature hopes to alleviate this problem, and
the state legislature should speedily approve it. But what the prob-
lem of college drinking really calls for is a national conversation -
one that the University administration should fully support.
Last week, state Sen. Liz Brater (D-Ann
Arbor) introduced a bill to the Michigan
Senate to immunize underage drinkers
from criminal charges if they seek assis-
tance for an individual who is need of
medical attention because of alcohol con-
sumption. As the law stands right now, an
individual under 21 years old with a blood
alcohol concentration of .08 or higher is
considered a minor in possession. This
standard applies even if an underage stu-
dent is seeking medical aid for someone
else in need. If given an MIP, a first-time
offender can face a misdemeanor charge,
fines of up to $400, a court appearance and
Currently, underage drinkers have a
disincentive to help out friends in need of
medical attention because they could face
MIPs. While laws are supposed to protect
people and save lives, this policy encour-
ages the exact opposite. Each year, alcohol-
related incidents claim the lives of about
1,700 college students nationwide. Some
of these deaths might have been prevented
if these students had received the medical
attention they deserved. Students shouldn't
be punished for trying to help individuals
in need. With lives potentially at stake, the
Michigan legislature should approve Brat-
er's bill and protect underage drinkers who
do the right thing.
Despite the need for this change, Brater's
bill still won't solve some of the other prob-
lems surrounding drinkinglaws. The exten-
sive presence of binge drinking on college
campuses demonstrates that drinking age
laws are failing. The federal government
needs to take a closer look at these laws and
how effective they really are. And the U.S.
Congress should start by heeding the call of
the Amethyst Initiative, a proposal created
in July of 2008 to urge Congress to re-ex-
amine the 1984 National Minimum Drink-
ing Age Act. Under this statute, states that
failed to raise drinking ages to 21 or above
face a 10-percent cut in federal highway
funding, so the law effectively raised the
drinking age from 18 to 21.
After witnessing accidents due to binge
drinking, roughly 135 collegiate presidents
have signed the proposal. University of
Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman
isn't one of them - but she should be. A
productive solution to binge-drinking and
irresponsible alcohol consumption won't
come about without discussion. By refusing
to sign onto the Amethyst Initiative, Cole-
man has missed an opportunity to open a
dialogue that could only benefit students.
Stagnant alcohol policies have pushed
underage drinking underground and put
some college students' lives at unnecessary
risk. Michigan's legislature needs to pass
Brater's bill to help prevent loss of life in
this state. But binge drinking is a national
problem, and Congress can't continue to
pretend that its failed policy is working.
College students drink, and it's time for
government policies to recognize that fact.
I like getting A's. I like being smart.'
- Michelle Obama, addressing schoolchildren on her visit to London, as reported yesterday by CNN.
ELAINE MORTON T T PASTURE E-MAIL ELAINEAT EMORT@UMICH.EDU
Whoa. Ve No no ono! 1 t h e will be
should ta~ke we'llgeJ' Md? tru leeik
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Switching the frequency
O ne of the most egregious viola- to certain standards. Maybe these ally dooming the broadcaster.
tions of the First Amendment standards would include selling half The second reason used to jus-
is the federal government's the copper to the government or sup- tify government intervention is the
ownership of porting certain political campaigns. mentality that we need government
radio and televi- If the copper miners refused, they to protect people from bad things.
sion wavelengths. would be shut down. People would But it's impossible to protect chil-
I suspect that most vehemently object to this, labeling it dren from everything, and the most
people have prob- as communism or fascism. likely outcome of a free media is more
ably never thought Why, then, do people not raise parental supervision of children's
about this, so it's objections to the communication habits, which would certainly be a
not surprising that industry when it's in nearly the same good thing. The greater danger of the
more people aren't situation? Each radio or television current mentality is that it leads to a
angry. station applies for a license from the suppression of free speech. The FCC
The factors uti- VINCENT Federal Communications Commis- controlsthe licensing of TV and radio
lized in production PATSY sion and agrees to follow certain rules stations - if a station upsets the FCC,
are land, labor and about airing nudity or profanity. The it gets in trouble.
capital. The impor- same principle is at work.
tant distinction here is between capi- There are two reasons generally
tal and land - land is the physical given to justify the government's
space and whatever natural resourc- involvement in communications. The W hy the gov't
es happen to be located there where- first is that the number of radio fre-
as capital is the stuff put on to that quencies is limited - there is a natu- shouldn't regulate
space. When one goes to a restaurant, ral limit on how many stations can
mostofwhatyou see is capital (chairs, exist without interfering with one TV and radio.
tables, even the building itself), while another, necessitating government
the land is the fixed space of earth. involvement to decide who gets a fre-
In strict economic terms, radio quency. But this doesn't make sense
waves fall under the category of land. because every resource is limited. By What if these rules were the same
They may not be a fixed part of the the same logic, the government could for newspapers? The governient
earth, but they have a definite capi- nationalize everything from wheat to would own the paper's right to dis-
tal value. Just as we need a mine to iron to oil. There is a limited amount tribute while the paper would own
access copper in the earth, we need a of land on earth and even less that the actual presses. Any timea paper or
radio transmitter to access the radio can be used for production. magazine said anythingtoo "radical,"
spectrum. Just as copper has value in The solution for radio stations it could immediately be shut down by
the production of wire, a radio station should be the same as with any other the government. This would be con-
can sell time to advertisers by garner- limited resource. The first person at sidered fascism of the worst sort, but
ing a large listening audience. When a certain frequency would own that that is what's happening right now
copper is in high demand, the value unit of radio frequency. If someone with radio and TV stations.
of copper will rise and the value of began interfering with that frequen- The right to a free press can only
the mine increases. The more people cy, the owner would have the right exist with private property rights.
listening to a particular station, the to handle the situation as if someone If one can't own one's product, then
higher the value of the advertising were trespassing on private property. there is no incentive for improvement
spot. The free market has a natural sys- or innovation. Owning the right to
Suppose the federal government tem of self-regulation - if the station a frequency is just as important as
owned all the land in the United began broadcasting radical view- owning a transmitter or web page to
States that were rich in copper. The points, it could lose customers. This spread news and entertainment.
government would then lease out the loss in customers would mean a lower
land to certain producers as long as capital value and, consequently, less - Vincent Patsy can be reached
they promised to operate according revenue for advertisements, eventu- at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Daily is looking for a diverse group of strong, informed writers to be columnists
during the spring and summer semesters. Columnists write 750 words
on a topic of their choice every other week.
E-MAIL RACHEL VAN GILDER AT RACHELVG@UMICH.EDU FOR MORE INFORMATION.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, Elise Baun, Harun Buljina, Ben Caleca,
Satyajeet Deshmukh, Brian Flaherty, Emmarie Huetteman, Emma Jeszke,
Sutha K Kanagasingam, Shannon Kellman, Jeremy Levy, Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee,
Matthew Shutler, Neil Tambe, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Laura Veith
EMILY ERNST | VIEWPINT
Donate plasma this month
April is Primary Immune Deficiency Aware-
ness month. Primary Immune Deficiency Dis-
eases are genetic disorders that cause some
part of the immune system to function incor-
rectly, leaving people with these conditions
extremely susceptible to illness. I am one of
approximately 250,000 Americans diagnosed
with one of these disorders.
PIDDs are life threatening when left untreat-
ed. For most people with the disease, a simple
cold can turn into a severe sinus infection or
pneumonia. The longer a person lives without
being diagnosed, the greater the chances that
the individual will die or suffer severe medi-
cal problems. People who live long enough to
be diagnosed are put on a treatment called
Immune Globulin therapy (IgG), which I have
been receiving since I was three years old.
IgG is made out of human plasma, a blood
component separated from the red and white
blood cells. The body fights off diseases using
many of the proteins found in plasma and,
by taking regular injections of medications
derived from plasma, those with the disor-
der are able to fight off diseases. Without this
medicine, we would be almost constantly sick.
My doctors determined I had an immune defi-
ciency after I had contracted pneumonia three
separate times by age three and had monthly
sinus infections that I couldn't get rid of with-
out antibiotics and steroids.
Immune deficients aren't the only people
who benefit from plasma. The medications are
also used to treat hemophilia, pediatric HIV,
hepatitis, genetic lung disorders and, occasion-
ally, animal bites. Even though so many differ-
ent diseases are treated with plasma, people do
not donate as much as they could. When plasma
collection centers can't collect enough, it causes
extreme shortages of the medications, and peo-
ple who have any of the previously mentioned
conditions are unable to get the medicine they
need to lead a normal life. During the last plas-
ma shortage in the late 1990s, people I know
were unable to get their IgG for extended peri-
ods of time and started to get sick frequently.
I still received my medication throughout the
entire shortage because I was given priority as
a minor, but many others weren't as lucky.
In recognition of Primary Immune Deficien-
cy Awareness month, I would like to ask every-
one to consider donating plasma. The nearest
donation center is in Ypsilanti, but I encour-
age students to find donation centers in their
hometowns. To find the donation center clos-
est to you, go to www.donatingplasma.org. The
website also gives additional information on
the uses of plasma and the donation process.
I strongly encourage all of you to donate.
You may be saving someone's life and you could
grant a healthy, normal lifestyle to someone who
wouldn't have one otherwise. Plasma is an enor-
mous gift that recipients are extremely thank-
ful for. From the bottom of my heart, thank you
to all of the current plasma donors and I hope
many of you consider donating in the future.
Emily Ernst is an LSA freshman.
Centerfor Ethics integrates study
of ethics into University life
TO THE DAILY:
In a recent editorial (Bringing ethics back, 03/31/2009)
the Daily called for greater emphasis on ethics in the aca-
demic life of the University. The Center for Ethics in Pub-
lic Life seeks to do just that.
Almost five years ago, noting rising public concern about
unethical behavior and institutional failures in American
society, University President Mary Sue Coleman created
a task force of faculty, staff and students to examine ways
in which the University might, according to the Center's
website, "explore the synergies of education and scholar-
ship on the issue of ethics in public life, contributing to
and in some cases structuring broader public discourse
on these issues." Recent events only increase the sense of
urgency about responding to unethical behavior in profes-
sional and public life.
During its work, the task force found many programs and
activities already in place that addressed these issues and
identified strong foundations on which new efforts mightbe
built. It also identified some significant needs, particularly
in undergraduate education, research on ethics in public life,
public discourse and outreach. The task force's report led to
a presidential initiative that culminated in the establish-
ment last summer of the Center for Ethics in Public Life.
The Center's mission is to ensure that ethics occupies
a central place in the University's teaching, research and
public discourse. We welcome the Daily's attention to
ethics and invite members of the University community
to join in finding ways to make our common goals a real-
ity. The Center's funding programs provide support for
student projects, faculty research, course development,
speakers and symposia sponsored by individuals, student
organizations and other units of the University.
We are currently accepting applications for Center fel-
lowships for undergraduates and doctoral candidates who
are engaged in making ethics an important part of their
academic and campus lives. We invite members of the
SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
University community to submit proposals for projects
that will contribute to making ethics a more important
component of learning, research and campus life.
Our website, www.ethics.umich.edu, provides detailed
information on our programs, maintains a calendar of eth-
ics-related events on campus and provides links to recent
news articles and resources that address issues related to
ethics in public life. We invite you to sign up for our news-
letter and find ways to get involved with addressing the
pressing issues of ethics in professional and public life.
John R. Chamberlain
Director of the Center for Ethics in Public Life
Daily article fails to give tax
increase adequate attention
TO THE DAILY:
Though on the surface it will appear to be an issue of
political divide, I ask that you take my critique of Tues-
day's story (Lawmakers propose plan to provide tuition
relieffor Michigan residents, 03/31/2009) asa neutral con-
cern over news priorities. The article in question touts
tuition relief as the important part of the story and barely
mentions the tax increase. The rate hike would be the
largest set increase (not tied to some third variable) in the
state's history. This is not some passing matter. Rather,
the representatives' attemptto pass such an unprecedent-
ed tax increase in this economic climate should have been
the lead here. If your news team did notconsider that pos-
sibility seriously - or the severity of it - then the claim to
lower tuition should have received the same derision. .
I know many students from out of state care only about
lower tuition rates - Michigan residents be damned -but
this is a newsworthy legislative action for reasons other
than your focus. Even without the personal concern, the
remarkable nature of the plan deserves a public debate.
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