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September 16, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-09-16

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4A - Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com 1

I I e NIC4*igan + i1u

a

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.
Shifting gears
Wixom energy park will benefit economy and environment
Y ou mayhave never heard ofWixom, Mich., butone day soon,
you might be counting on the city to power your house or
car. Two companies dealing in alternative energy, Xtreme
Power and Clairvoyant Energy, will soon manufacture high effi-
ciency solar panels and energy storage systems at the location of
the former Wixom Ford Plant. This is excellent news for Michigan
as the state struggles to get back on its feet after the decimation of
much of its traditional manufacturing base. New energy projects
are a great way to kick-start the state economy, and the state legis-
lature should continue to push for more of these.

In my view, by apologizing to the president, the most
important person in the history of the world,
that applied to everyone."
- Representative Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) ,commenting on why he has not apologized to other government leaders
for his "You lie!" outburst during President Barack Obama's speech last week, as reported yesterday by CNN.

ROSE JAFFE

E-MAIL ROSE AT ROSEJAFF@UMICH.EDU

T-eu5. 8AM.
~ K!MS g i5M 1 lie,
SAT'5 AM.
o 'je5i-ci
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Another sti mulusll No way

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In 2007, the Wixom Ford Plant closed
after 50years, eliminating about a 1,000 jobs.
But last week, Texas-based Xtreme Power
and Clairvoyant Energy out of California
announced a plan to redevelop the 320-
acre site into an energy park housing new
manufacturing plants by 2011. The project is
expected to cost $725 million but will receive
$100 million in tax breaks from the state.
The new factories will produce environmen-
tally friendly solar panels and storage batter-
les and are expected to directly create 4,000
jobs, as well as indirectly support other state
industries like the glass industry.
On a national level, the park is part of a
necessary movement for cleaner energy.
The age of dependence on non-renew-
able, carbon-emission-producing oil and
unhealthy fossil fuels is coming to an end
- the rising demand for fuel-efficient vehi-
cles is evidence of that. Solar panels and
storage batteries are a vital component of
renewable energy and efficiency, and that's
the direction the country is headed.
But renewable energy options are par-
ticularly important for Michigan, because
they help diversify our staggering economy.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm has been advocat-
ing this point for years, focusing specifical-

ly on increasing the wind and solar energy
industries - with good reason. Alternative
energy is a growing industry, and with the
creation of the Wixom energy park, Michi-
gan has the opportunity to be a leader in
this field. The state desperately needs to
move beyond its traditional base of heavy
manufacturing, and being at the forefront
of the clean energy movement will spell
success for the state economy.
The energy park will also directly benefit
Wixom residents, creating much-needed
jobs in a state with the highest unemploy-
ment rate in the country - about 15 percent,
according to the Michigan Department of
Energy, Labor & Economic Growth. four
thousand jobs might seem like nothing,
but the industry should grow, and with it,
attract more jobs.
The costs can hardly be compared to the
benefits for the generations to come - the
state's $100 million investment should pay
large dividends. The energy park should
serve as a successful paradigm for future
endeavors in solar and renewable power.
Now if only the legislature can follow up
,the Wixom plant with an even greater push
for clean energy, Michigan can truly join
the 21st century as a leader in the field.

4

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, Harun Buljina, Ben Caleca,
Brian Flaherty, Emma Jeszke, Raghu Kainkaryam, Sutha K Kanagasingam, Erika Mayer,
Edward McPhee, Harsha Panduranga, Asa Smith, Brittany Smith,
Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Laura Veith
The Daily is looking for a diverse group of strong, informed, passionate
writers to join the Editorial Board. Editorial Board members are
responsible for discussing and writing the editorials
that appear on the left side of the opinion page.
E-MAIL ROBERT SOAVE AT RSOAVE@UMICH.EDU FOR MORE INFORMATION.
SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU

henever I hear legislators,
TV pundits or my fellow
classmates praising Presi-
dent Barack Obama
for saving the
national economy
with last Febru-
ary's stimulus
plan, I am infuriat-
ed. It is impossible
for the American
Recovery and
Reinvestment ActV
of 2009 to have VINCENT
done anything but PATSY
made the economy_
worse. The govern-
ment can't just rise out of the system
and save it - it is akin to trying to fill
the deep end of a pool by taking water
from the shallow end. In its attempt
to stimulate the economy, the govern-
ment borrows money, takes resources
away from the public and depresses
another part of the economy. For
this reason, all governmental policy
directed at stimulating the economy,
namely fiscal and monetary mea-
sures, are doomed to failure. The
government can only create jobs by
destroying other ones.
The inability of stimulus plan sup-
porters to understand this may stem
from misconceptions about the roles
of the public and private sectors of the
economy. The truth is that the private
economy consists of people working
cooperatively to produce goods and
satisfy consumer demand. The public
sector - that is, the government sec-
tor - can only maintain itself by seiz-
ing resources from the private sector
to fund whatever political goals cur-
rently exist, whether they unemploy-
ment benefits, public works, bailouts,
wars or anything else. The govern-
ment does this through either taxation
or borrowing. Far from stimulating
the economy, the government is really
just leeching off of it.

All this government leeching is
actually a double tax. By using my
money to buy goods and services, the
price of these goods and services goes
up. When the government taxes the
public, it decreases their amount of
resources, thus decreasingthe amount
of consumption. If the government
builds a bridge, it costs more for pri-
vate contractors and business owners
to build their own projects because
workers and materialshavebeentaken
out of the economy. The stimulus plan
essentially takes my money and uses it
to outbid me in the market.
But just as taxation hurts the econ-
omy, so too does government borrow-
ing from the private sector. Every
dollar that the government borrows
makes it more difficult for small and
large businesses to find credit. The
sheer lunacy of this is that while the
government spends money on unem-
ployment benefits, business owners
lack the ability to buy machines or to
keep people employed because the
government is using all of the sav-
ings. All things equal, the increased
borrowing by the government leads to
either a rise in interest rates and/or a
decrease in private consumption. This
has the same effect as taxation, except
not only do the taxpayers have to pay
the original amount but they have to
pay the interest, too.
Although we have all been indoctri-
nated to think that there exists some-
where an "economy" and we interact
with it when we have a job or buy
things, this is not the case at all. Your
wages ultimately do notcome from you
employer, but rather from what you
produce and exchange with other peo-
ple. We are all consumers, and those
of us who are producers - those of us
who have private sector jobs - produce
goods to satisfy consumer demand. We
receive money wages which represent
what we have produced.
In our modern economy, dollar bills

are essentially claims to goods. One
hundred dollars can be exchanged for
$100 worth of goods. Since money is
in a state of perpetual barter between
all goods, once there is enough money,
there is no need for any more. This is
especially true in our paper money
standard of today. Money, like the
yard or meter, is just a relative value
by which we can measure value and
coordinate action. When the Federal
Reserve creates new money, the only
social effect is to dilute the purchasing
power of the existing units. If the Fed
doubled the money supply overnight,
would we be richer? If the Fed adds
three percent per year, which is its
current policy goal, will we be richer?
All that will happen is that the value of
our existing dollars will become hope-
lessly diluted.
The government
can't magically
fix the economy.
So in response to an economic cri-
sis, if the government can only cre-
ate jobs by destroying others and the
Federal Reserve can only create more
money by diluting the current supply,
the only possible conclusion to govern-
ment policy is a chronic and perpetu-
al depression. As supposed experts
debate the merits of the first stimulus
(actually the second - Bush's failed,
as well) and the possibility of enacting
a second, I hope that they will remem-
ber this. No government stimulus can
make you wealthier without making
everyone else poorer.
- Vincent Patsy can be reached
at vapatsy@umich.edu.

Military research at 'U' is
cutting edge and saves lives

with this article, namely that analyzing the
past through modern viewpoints is cheap. How
about you relate the events to the time frame in
which they occurred? No? Not up for historical
relevance? All about proving your point? Well

0

MAX BRONSTEINIY

TO THE DAILY: done, Daily. Well d
I would like to preface this letter by saying
that I am an avid reader of the Daily. Thus, I Anna Sheppard
have more or less come to terms with the fact Engineeringjunior.
that it is essentially socialist propaganda - and
I'm only half-joking here. . Daily Write
I don't see how the military is the epitome of '"s ~
evil and all that is wrong with the world. Maybe the sanctitj
being in ROTC has jaded me, yet I can't see
how military technologies that save the lives
of both soldiers and civilians are terrible. Why TO THE DAILY:
shouldn't the University get involved? Military It hurts me tos
technology is on the forefront of engineering. inappropriately in
UAVs are cool. Ask any engineer. Monday article (F
Ben Caleca's recent column suggests that 9/14/2009) says, "
increasing innovation of automated systems with three letters
will eventually removethe human element from Another example(
war, causing war to be more readily engaged, Poll, 9/8/2009) say
(Problems with point-and-click, 9/13/09). This still God in our boo
is utterly insane. First, war is and will always God's name shi
be a costly venture, in terms of money and irreverently in the
human lives, with serious ramifications. No who are mere men
one could forget that. Second, without boots on priate word to desc
the ground, any gains will quickly be lost. The successful athletes
sister services complement one another. No one "No, not even Godc
service can win alone. the designer's boas
I also don't see how military research is an for the University,:
embarrassment to the University, as addressed
in the Statement last week (Dark side of cam- Mike Huang
pus history, 9/8/09). I have a .lot of problems University alum

one.
'rs should respect
y of God's name
see God's name being used
the Daily. A recent Sports-
orcier the real Golden Tate,
People spell his first name
s now ('G,' 'O' and 'D')".
(The Michigan Daily Top 10
s of Florida, "Tim Tebow is
oks."
ould not be tossed around
Daily, referring to athletes
. Please find a more appro-
cribe extremely talented and
. Remember the Titanic -
could sink the Titanic," was
st. We want God's blessing
not His curse.

A failed method of assessment

Last fall, my test scores were noth-
ing short of abysmal. These low scores
have forced me to reconsider what ben-
efit, if any, one gains from the test-tak-
ing culture's prevalence in academia.
Too often, I find myself cramming for
tests and memorizinginformation only
to find that after the exam has passed,
most of that knowledge is gone from
my memory. I'm sure other students
can relate.
While this rote style of learning is
conducive to test taking, it's largely
detrimental to substantive learning.
Most unfortunately, rote exams tend
to assess minor details rather than a
broader understanding of philosophi-
cal concepts or ideas that lie at the crux
of all disciplines. Typically, testing and
grades are primarily used for assess-
ment. Butthey are also used as a means
of motivation. Learning motivated by
grades often results in a superficial
approach to studying that offers little
benefit to the student.
Instead, substantive learning should
be motivated by genuine interest from
both the student and instructor. It is
essential that professors demonstrate
passionforthesubject.Afterall,profes-
sors are in a unique position to inspire
passion in students that won't come
from test preparation. This is an essen-
tial tools to facilitate the sustained and
substantive learning process that leads
students to one of the ultimate goals of
higher education - a commitment to

lifelong learning.
Exams are an academic convention,
and our culture rewards individu-
als that excel at taking tests. But this
is a skill that is only useful within the
academic context. Imagine a boss that
evaluated employees' performance
with an exam and a letter grade. This
would provide little substantive feed-
back and offer no tangible guidance
for improvement. This raises another
question - shouldn't academia assess
and reward students using real-world
methods? Wouldn't this better prepare
students for their professional careers?
To answer this we must consider the
skills that are most valuable in a profes-
sional setting.
In my experience, persuasive writ-
ingis anindispensible skill inthework-
place, which is why many organizations
evaluate applicants using writing sam-
ples. In addition, the ability to collabo-
rate in a productive manner is essential
because the most pressing challenges
in science or the humanities are often
complex - solving them requires the
integration of multiple perspectives.
Effective problem solving also requires
that individuals be able to think cre-
atively and offer innovative insight.
The test-taking culture doesn't con-
tribute to these ends. In fact, test tak-
ing, which is almost always a solitary
endeavor, is antithetical to the collab-
orative culture that is at the core of
real-world problem solving.

Alternatively, academia could imple-
ment more realistic means of assess-
ment by encouraging creative thinking
and communication from students as
well as group projects that emphasize
collaboration. This approach would
expose students to complex realities
and foster critical thinking abilities
that ultimately enable real learning.
In turn, this will instill students with
a lifelong love of learning and prepare
for aknowledge-basedeconomy,which
will champion innovation above pure
knowledge.
While academia is often considered
to be rational and forward-thinking,
it's utterly conservative when it comes
to modes of assessment. This conserva-
tism places tradition and convenience
for the assessors above the potential
benefits of new ways of evaluation.
It's time to seriously consider and
experiment with novel methods to
better prepare students for real-world
challenges. A new group for graduates
and undergraduates called Students for
Assessment Reform is starting. SAR's
mission is to promote a cross-campus
dialogue on new methods of student
assessment and provide recommenda-
tions to University leaders. If you're
interested in joining or learning more,
please contact Max Bronstein at
mgbstein@umich.edu.
Max Bronstein is a Public
Policy graduate student.

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.

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