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September 15, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-09-15

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4 - Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

l e Iicl igan i[

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
S420 Maynard St.
_ Ann Arbor, MI 48109
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.
Room for improvement
City Council shouldn't reduce height of Near North plan

Pres. Obama just called Kanye West ajackass' for his
outburst at VMAs ... Now THAT'S presidential:'
- ABC's "Nightline" co-anchor Terry Moran, tweeting during a CNBC interview with President Barack Obama
yesterday. The tweet was later deleted since the comment was from an off-the-record portion of the interview.
hw Witlhy eror. iocke LOtF your
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Health care from ages past


W hen designing an affordable housing complex, one
might think it important for low-income families to
actually be able to fit in the apartments. But if residents
have their way, overblown concerns about the height of the Near
North affordable housing project on Main Street will force the city
to scale back the building, making the individual apartments too
small for low-income families. And if Ann Arbor's City Council sits
on the proposal much longer, the project may forfeit tax benefits
and become less financially viable. City Council needs to approve an
appropriately large Near North by the end of the month to provide
low-income families much-needed housing downtown.

The Near North building would provide
housing for low-income residents and home-
less individuals. Plans include 25 regular
units and 14 supportive units that would
be specifically set aside for homeless per-
sons who are disabled or addicted to alco-
hol or drugs. All units would be for those
who make between 30 and 50 percent of
the median income. But a group of residents
signed a petition in opposition to the plan for
the building, citing the building's proposed
height as the main concern. The petition
means that eight city council votes instead
of a simple majority will be required to pass
the plan.
Concerns about the height of the build-
ing overlook the benefits of building up.
Height caps in the downtown area restrict
the amount of people who can live in the
city. This pushes lower-income residents to
the outer limits of the Ann Arbor and cre-
ates communities that are segregated based
on socioeconomic status. Worse still, those-
on the outskirts of town have to pay more to
commute into the city, further widening the
economic gap. The city of Ann Arbor should
foster cohabitation of all types of people,
and keeping buildings arbitrarily low to the
ground works against this goal.
As a result of the height complaints, the
developers have lowered the building plan
from five stories to four. This means that all

of the units will now be one-bedroom apart-
ments instead of the previously planned mix
of one and two bedroom apartments, effec-
tively excluding low-income families from
living there. It's a terrible shame that low-
income families will lose access to this hous-
ing just because of some residents misguided
obsession with "preserving the city's aes-
thetic."Weighed against the merits of having
multi-bedroom apartments for low-income
residents, lowering the building's proposed
height by one story seems laughable.
The Near North development project out-
line is now on the agenda for the Sept. 21Ann
Arbor City Council meeting, a little over a
week before the state Housing Association's
deadline for tax cuts on affordable housing.
plan before it misses out on these tax breaks.
And despite what residents may think about
limitingthe height of buildings, City Council
should approve a plan that establishes plenty
of space for low-income families. '
While it's certainly true that low-income
residents need more affordable housing, it's
important for the city to remember its stu-
dents. After all, students drive down Ann
Arbor's average income, causing the city to
get more money for affordable housing proj-
ects. It's only fair that the city spend some of
its resources to provide better housing for
struggling students, too.

W hat do beer, American
health care and the Magna
Carta all have in common?
For most college
students, the link
between beer and
health care is pret-
ty obvious: con-
suming excessive
amounts of the for-
mer tends to lead
to needing more of
the latter.P PATRICK
Adding the O'MAHEN
Magna Carta to
the mix illustrates
a core economic
principle of functional markets. This
principle, in turn, will help explain
the need for Congress to pass major
health care reforms. A well-regulated
exchange protects consumers from
dirty insurance company tricks and
helps buyers save money.
But first, we have to go back to the
13th century.
The Magna Carta, or "Great Char-
ter," was an agreement signed in 1216
between the English King John I and
a group of barons. The agreement
affirmed the ancient rights of the
nobility against the King's attempt
to centralize power. Some scholars
regard it as a very early prototype for
the constitutions of modern democ-
Particularly interesting isthe char-
ter's 25th clause, which mandates a
standard measure of ale throughout
the entire realm. Practically speak-
ing, this means that when I order a
pint of London Pride at the Turf Tav-
ern in Oxford, I know it should have
the same amount of beer as a pint of
Green King served at the Boathouse
in Cambridge.
That pint-size piece of informa-
tion is critical for scholarly pursuits
but it's also an essential form of gov-
ernment regulation: setting standard
weights and measures. Without a
standard measure of ale or corn or
gasoline policed by the government,
a large amount of commerce would

dry up.
Why? Enforcing standard mea-
sures by an outside neutral party
provides trustworthy information.
Ironically, government intervention
helps facilitate a key assumption of
the free market economy: parties in
an exchange have "perfect" informa-
tion, which makes it more difficult
for, say, a cloth merchant to cheat his
And these standards are what are
needed in today's health care reform.
Currently, individuals who don't
have insurancethroughtheir employ-
er or aren't eligible for Medicare have
to search for health insurance plans
in the free market. In addition to fac-
ing higher costs, they face a dizzying
array of plans, choices and complicat-
ed language. This complexity creates
a situation with asymmetrical infor-
mation: consumers face reams of
paper with confusing terms created
by lawyers and specialists working
for the insurance company.
It's pretty clear consumers face
a heavy disadvantage under this
arrangement. Even if they can find a
competing insurer - which in some
regions they can't, because a single
company dominates the market - the
information imbalance persists.
One major purpose of the health
insurance exchanges is to provide a
standardized set of health insurance
policies for individuals and small
businesses that need to buy insur-
ance on the open market. Private
insurers compete for customers on
the exchange by offering plans that
meet certain basic criteria, which are
determined by law.
The upshot is thatby regulatingthe
types of coverage that can be offered
and setting minimum standards, the
government provides a set of stan-
dard measurements - akin to the
standard measure of ale - that helps
lower the information gulf between
consumers and insurers, benefitting
the consumer.
Second, government oversight of
the exchanges ensures that an out-

side enforcer is at hand in case insur-
ance companies attempt to break the
rules. Instead of facing the remote
possibility of an individual consumer
suing, the government could kick the
company out of the exchange and cut
it off from tens of millions of custom-
How the Magna
Carta can help
fix health care.
Of course, the insurance exchange
is only one important feature of
health care reform efforts. Another
is a mandate that requires individuals
to buy health insurance. Not allow-
ing healthy people to opt out of buy-
ing insurance spreads risk among a
greater pool and lowers premiums
for everyone. The final key feature
is the much-debated public option,
which would increase competitive
pressures to lower prices by giving
individuals and small businesses the
option of choosing a government-run
plan. (Medicare, the government-run
insurance program for senior citizens,
negotiatesfarlower prices for care and
runs with much lower overhead costs
than private insurance companies.)
Together, the exchanges, indi-
vidual mandate and public option
can combine to rein in health-care
costs, expand coverage and create
fewer headaches for consumers try-
ing to sort through massive amounts
of paperwork.
And all those things will help
lower the cost of Ibuprofen, which
may come in handy for anyone tak-
ing advantage of the standardized
24-ounce jars of Bell's Oberon at
Dominick's after acing an English
history midterm. Cheers!
- Patrick O'Mahen can be
reached at pomahen@umich.edu.



Michigan Stadium needs to
play right music for fans
I wanted to respond with my thoughts about
the piped-in Michigan Stadium music and
Andy Reid's column (My pipe(d) dream: a better
Michigan Stadium mixtape, 09/14/2009).
I wasn't excited when I heard that there was
going to be piped-in music at the stadium, but
I have to say, it's quickly growing on me. There
are three tweaks to the idea, though, that need
to be made to make it better. And being a DJ, I
feel like I can lend some expertise.
First, I have to disagree with Reid's view of
slow ballads. This is football, not the senior
prom. I want music that's going to keep the
entire 110,000 fans pumped up for the next
play. Michigan Stadium has a reputation for
being one of the quietest stadiums, and music

that causes some to fall asleep won't help.
Second, there is no reason to play songs that
are already overused by other schools. I agree
that the student section sounded great when
chanting the baseline to "Seven Nation Army,"
but I know that's a Penn State song. So that
song should be cut, along with "Jump Around"
and "Zombie Nation." We're Michigan and we
don't copy others.
And cut the crappy intros that some songs
have. Cut the piano intro to "Lose Yourself"
(which, when played on Saturday, didn't allow
us to get to the actual song and lyrics). Also, cut
the intro to "Welcome to the Jungle."
Those are my opinions, but I'm pleased with
the effort. I am now on board with playing the
piped in music.
Still, nothing beats the Michigan Marching
Band. Go Blue!
MatE Darby
Alum and staffmember

Life as an undeclared sophomore

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t4 a /C 'l O t C0 - ct 0,i
x aval _ablcotyiOf
/ c~w ourL A

You've heard it a million times when you start a class
or join a new club - monotonous icebreakers. Repetition
of certain, yet important, facts. So, in my fifth semester at
the University, I'll start this article off with the answers I
spout off every first day of a new course. My name is Mat-
thew Shutler, I'm a sophomore and my major is currently
Moving into a residence hall, you end up meeting many
new people, and for some reason, living with complete
strangers leads to a lot of inevitable questions. "Where are
you from?" "What year are you in?" "What's your major?" I
would answer them again and again as I met the people who
would turn out to be my family away fromhome. "Dearborn
Heights, Mich." "Freshman." And, of course, "Ummmm ...
I'm not sure yet."
I always felt alittle embarrassed without a declared major.
Here at the University, I found myself competing with some
of the brightest men and women from around the world. I'm
surrounded by people who know that they have wanted to
become doctors or teachers since they were in diapers, and
I'm here, still trying to identify the one career that won't
cause me to go crazy. It should be understandable that I'm
feeling a slight inferiority complex.
I remember going to a banquet for students with LSA
scholarships in the first month of school last year. We lis-
tened to people talk about "how brave we are" for decid-
ing to enroll in LSA. Yes, they said brave. We didn't apply
to the School of Engineering or School of Kinesiology. We
applied to the school of Literature, Science, and the Arts,
which apparently means we don't know what we want to
do with our lives. Well, I was anxious to begin with, and
starting the year off with people telling me that I'm brave
for deciding to "find myself" before I choose a career

wasn't exactly a comforting feeling.
But there are benefits to having an undeclared major,
despite it being occasionally overwhelming. You have the
unique opportunity to take a wider variety of classes. How
many freshmen engineering students really have the room
in your schedules totake introductory courses for poetry,
sociology, history, French and archaeology? Another little
award you get from taking your time to pick your major
is that when you finally declare, you're more sure of what
you want. With any luck, when I finally decide what I want
to do with my life, there won't be too much wavering after
that moment. Fingers crossed, that is.
Recently, I've discovered that I have a preoccupation
with needing to know all the answers about what the
future will bring. Here I am, complaining about the anxi-
ety triggered by not having a plan for the rest of my life.
But there are hundreds of other students in this situation,
and most seem to find their way through the University
and graduate with a degree in something they know they
can work with. I have learned to forget about the pres-
sure of declaring this semester and focus on finding what
I love. I also learned that you can decide to be anxious and
only think about not having a plan, or you can look at it as
an adventure to find your own path. I think I'll go with
the latter and make my undergraduate career more of an
I think I just realized why they called us brave at that
banquet. We're brave enough to say that we may not have
a certain career in mind, but we're going to search. I've
decided to embrace this bravery, and if you're an unde-
clared LSA sophomore, you should, too.
Matthew Shutler is an assistant editorial page editor.


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