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April 20, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-04-20

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I

4A - Monday, April 20, 2009

Opinio

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
i 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.
On the right track
Government should adopt plan for nationwide railroads

We cannot rebuild this economy on
the same pile of sand."
- President Barack Obama, commenting on his plan to redefine American capitalism,
as reported on Saturday by The New York Times.
CHRIS KOSLOWSKI I0E-MAIL CHRIS AT CSKOSLOW@UMICH.EDU
ntrodctorygreetiersona attack eeled by The punch ine. Sometimes
towed by aquery concernga ad anger tloinga humorous
a current event orfinals. hses e tension ote strip. coincidence in language like
a o t.A teaisa g."g:
e Atypical*coeseroatee S n hlsighted *an
a response. Usually blunataa "a nersso yySilence and a ~rW.8 %as>
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t's no secret that the University of Michigan is stranded in the
middle of the Midwest. In cities like Ann Arbor and Detroit,
it's easy to feel disconnected from other metropolitan areas.
Students needing to travel often complain about the current options
being limited, expensive and inconvenient. Thankfully, President
Barack Obama has recently announced plans to build a nationwide
high-speed rail network of 100 miles per hour-plus trains. This
network would connect Ann Arbor to Chicago and Detroit,
providing students with much better options for sampling other
cities. At the same time, the plan would conserve energy and
create needed jobs. Such a plan should be implemented quickly for
the good of students, workers and the state.

Administrators need a lecture

The proposed plan identifies 10 cor-
ridors, one of which is the Chicago hub
network that would connect Chicago with
other metropolitan areas in the Midwest,
including Detroit. The broader goal of the
proposal is to relieve the congestion on
highway and airport infrastructure by giv-
ing travelers an efficient alternative in the
form of speedy, electric-powered trains. In
addition, the plan will also create short-
term and long-term jobs for the upgrading,
construction and maintenance of the rail-
road infrastructure.
With Ann Arbor on the Chicago-Detroit
rail route, this would make it easier for stu-
dents to get to Chicago and beyond much
faster than they do now. Besides opening up
new destinations for everyone, this could
also help out-of-state and international
students by giving them an option of flying
from Chicago, which can be cheaper than
flying from Detroit. But all students benefit
from easier options to travel long distances
in shorter amounts of time. Being located a
mere 2 hours from Chicago gives students
in Ann Arbor much better access to the
world outside the University community.
The state of Michigan also stands to
benefit from this plan. The high-speed
rail network would create both short-term
and long-term employment for Michigan,
which is dealing with the highest unem-

ployment rate in the country. The state
does not have an efficient and affordable
public transportation system to speak of.
This project would give it a much-need-
ed boost in infrastructure by connecting
parts of the state to Detroit, and Detroit
to other metropolitan counterparts in the
Midwest. This creates greater connectivity
between everyone who lives in Michigan,
which will undoubtedly be helpful as the
state inches toward economic revival.
A reliable nationwide rail network
would also ease the demand for air and
road travel and decongest clogged airways
and highways. And in doing so, it will make
the United States cleaner and greener. The
electric-powered trains would reduce
dependence on vehicles that burn harm-
ful fossil fuels. Reducing the number of
cars on the road and planes in the air could
decrease both air pollution and greenhouse
gas emissions.
While the plan has its critics, high-speed
rail networks like the French TGV and
the Japanese Shinkansen have been suc-
cessful, and there is no reason why such
a model can't be replicated in the United
States. This is a sound investment, from
an economic as well as an environmental
standpoint. It's an investment we need to
make to get our state and our country back
on track.

A fter University representa- funds - known informally as the "B", and employees as'
tives walked out of an Apr. "C" and "Super C" funds -to cover the What really ma
1 meeting that was meant to other classifications of faculty raises, the University's p
settle the nine- like getting promoted from assistant is that Frumkin so
month-long dispute professor to associate professor. about lesson play
with the Lecturers' Obviously,the relative sizes of these LEO held a full-I
Employee Organi- funds will vary from year to year. Apr. 6 and 7. Tha
zation over a dis- But over the last four years, accord- feelings all arount
crepancy with this ing to internal University documents long list of grieva
year's lecturer sal- obtained by LEO and the Michigan have traditionally
ary raises, it's clear Daily (University officials and LEO job security, lackc
that the grievance seek arbitration to settle dispute over pay.
will only be settled pay raises, 04/02/2009), the size of the
by outside arbitra- PATRICK A fund has steadily shrunk from 62
tion. What is also O'MAHEN percent of the pool to less than 38 per-
clear is that even if cent while the combined C and Super W hy 1
the University wins C funds have grown from 20 percent
in arbitrationthe actions of high-level to 41 percent. should r
administrators have been shortsight- This appears to be an ongoing effort
ed. Their vindictiveness and incompe- by the administration to shortchange cheat its e
tence has further poisoned an already lecturers. Even as the pool for faculty
long-strained relationship between raises roughly doubled from $1.98 mil-
lecturers and the University, which lion in 2006 to $3.64 million in 2009,
will result in not only more acrimoni- the average lecturer raise has lan- So what have w
ous contract talks next year with LEO guished below 15 percent for the same LEO members
but also during the 2010-11 school time period, the threat of actior
year with the Graduate Employees' Last Friday, I asked Director of versity back to th
Organization. (Full disclosure: I am Academic Human Resources Jeffrey because adminis
the former communications chair for Frumkin if the University had been grievances serio
GEO, and a current member.) . ready to offer a monetary settlement tantly, since ad
On Mar. 12, the University denied to.LEO on the raise issue. been abusing the,
a grievance filed by LEO, prompting He told me, "Let's put it this way limit pay, they'll oj
a union-organized teach-in on Mar. - it would have been inappropriate year seeking to sc
31 and Apr. t in which lecturers would to come to a meeting without a settle- ary article. That,
spend 10 minutes of their class dis- ment offer." tions onerous, to s
cussing the issue. But the University didn't let him remember that sim
In response, the University threat- offer it. After having received one ern raises in the4
ened to file an unfair labor prac- complaint from a prospective student the-University -V
tice complaint if LEO went through about a lecturer who conducted the 2011 GEO-Univers
with the action. Then, on Mar. 30, it teach-in hearing-that LEO had called tentious as well.
offered to meet and discuss the issue it off, someone from a "higher level," . So congratulati
on Apr. 1. as Frumkin put it, instructed him to in trying to make
At its core, the salary dispute cancel the meeting. have yet again sho
between LEO and the administration To translate, someone in the Pro- on labor relations
is over the distribution of money for vost's office, to which Frumkin aches do you hav
faculty raises. In practice, raises for reports, decided to call off negotia- you learn that it
lecturers at Ann Arbor are tied to the tions. with your organi
increase of the "A" fund, which is a Apparently,theUniversitytakesthe tryingto cheat the
general pool of money that LSA uses to opinipns of prospective students quite
provide merit-based increases for fac- seriously. I just wish it would listen to - Pa
ulty members. The college uses other the opinions of its current students reached at p
KENT HOFFMANV
Innovation during crisis

well.
kes the sincerity of
ontification suspect
aid no one told him
n deviations when
fledged teach-in on
t leaves us with ill
d - on top of a long,
nces that lecturers
y had about lack of
of respect and lousy
the 'U'
not try to
employees.
elearned?
learned that only
m will force theUni
e bargaining table,
trators don't take
usly. More impor-
dministrators have
current contract to
pen bargaining next
rap the current sal-
will make negotia-
ay the least. Finally,
nilar provisions gov-
GEO contract with
which will make the
sity talks more con-
ons, administration,
a quick buck. You
t yourself in the foot
s. How many head-
e to endure before
costs less to work
zed employees than
em?
trick O'Mahen can be
omahen@umich.edu.

4

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

LETT ERS T

SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU

Basketball QB would be a
terrible choiceforMichigan

so much as taken a snap in four years and that
he knows nothing about our offensive system
He's Duke's point guard! No self-respecting
Michigan football fan wants to root for him.
In fact, we would rather he transferred to one

TO THE DAILY: of our opponents
I and thousands of like-minded alumni say the opportunity
no, no, a thousand times no to the idea of Greg sion.
Paulus playing quarterback at my beloved
university. Has Rich Rodriguez truly lost his Patrick Gilhool
mind? Never mind the fact that Paulus hasn't Alum

so that our defensive line has
to pound him into submis-

4

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 tothedoily@umich.edu.
JASON MAHAKIAN E-MAIL JASON AT MAHAKIAJ@UMICH.EDU
Goe s D 1 101 scm -oes tvse I
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ANP isv vO' s00 P .CT bF0
YoUR. cae i 6r a .AvLYWAr
j l~- ar rr WW T Ff5.P ~KwAhP
1a, IT ur' 1nunuau
LU A L 5 H E E5ALHF YVEF<
° EAL

The other day, I bought a copy of the magazine Foreign
Policy at the local Borders and read the cover article on the
"Axis of Upheaval."After finishingit,Ewantedto armmyself
immediately, buy enough food for at least 40years and con-
struct a nuclear silo 20,000 leagues under the sea. World
destruction seemed imminent. Then, I decided maybe the
world's fate wasn't so dire - maybe Foreign Policy was just
publishedby over-anxious war hawks. SoI picked up a copy
of the magazine Foreign Affairs and read about Russia's
rapid destabilization and anticipated battles in the Indian
Ocean over sea control with burgeoning Indian and Chinese.
naval fleets.
At this point, I stopped reading and turned on the televi-
sion. CNN was showing pictures of a glacier in Antarctica
falling into the ocean as some really confused penguins
stared on in disbelief.o
I decided to take a nap. Between economic catastrophe,
international destabilization and climate change, there isn't
much to be optimistic about these days.
America finds itself in a precarious position, surround-
ed by rising international powers as it negotiates a tricky
financial crisis that has laid waste to the economy. But with
every crisis comes opportunity, and I think that the Obama
administration would do well to utilize this current melt-
down to make some fundamental changes. No, I'm not advo-
cating for universal health care, the nationalization of banks
or redistributive wealth programs. But if the Obama admin-
istration focused on using this crisis to spur investment for
new alternative-energy research or to help redesign our
infrastructure for a future without petrol, then America
could prepare to take an active role in world leadership on
combatingclimate change..
It's no secret that America hasn't been smitten with cli-
mate change initiatives over the last two decades, declining
to sign the Kyoto Protocol and emitting greenhouse gases
at a rate greater than any other country except China. But
with American businesses lining up outside the Congressio-
nal gates looking for bailout money, the Obama administra-
tion and Congress would have a perfect opportunity to help
alter practices within large American companies. Normally,
I'd be completely opposed to any government attempt at

regulating big business beyond health and safety code. But
in asymmetric economic conditions, when failed compa-
nies need taxpayer money to continue operating, I have no
qualms with tyingstipulations to bailout payments - stipu-
lations thatcould require companies to devote a certain per-
centage of the bailout money to alternative energy research
before receiving Uncle Sam's check.
The government is already encouraging private action
through General Motors and Segway's new P.U.M.A. cre-
ation. Part-Segway, part golf cart and part-rickshaw, the
P.U.M.A. attracted much attention during its recent beta test
in New York City. This was obviously an attempt by General
Motors to garner some positive PR, since many Americans
view the car manufacturer's troubles as a result of clue-
less management and cringe at the idea of taxpayer money
being used to help subsidize GM operations. But the idea
of using crises to help encourage new and innovative ideas
is very important. Given high barriers to entry for vehicle
manufacturing and energy development, the private mar-
ket would be unlikely to produce new and innovative ideas
without substantial subsidies. A project like the P.U.M.A. or
the Chevy Volt could require large government investment
to bring to market. Using the bailout money as a means of
enticing change in America's large companies would create
an opportunity for new projects that could help prepare our
infrastructure for the future.
To solve the climate change issue with any efficacy
beyond mere political rhetoric or pieces of purely symbolic
legislation, American private industry will have to fun-
damentally change. Whether that innovation begins with
companies like GM spurred on by stipulations tied to bailout
money or, perhaps more likely, with small entrepreneur-
ial start-ups focused on fuel-cell or bio-mass energy is not
important. What matters is that our government realizes
that no solution to the climate change issues will come from
congressional legislation, cap-and-trade systems or Al Gore
documentaries. Any real solution to the climate change issue
needs to disseminate directly from private industry, and this
crisis is a perfect opportunity to begin that transformation.
Kent Hoffman is an LSA freshman.

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