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October 05, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-10-05

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4A - Monday, October 5, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com 4

I c Micl igan 4

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu
ROBERT SOAVE COURTNEY RATKOWIAK
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR

4

GARY GRACA
EDITOR IN CHIEF

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views ofttheir authors.
A busted budget
Compromise budget must include funding for education
While students were still asleep on Thursday morning,
Michigan's government shut down. A habit repeated
every few years, legislators again failed to pass a bud-
get by the Oct. 1 deadline. Though a complete government shut-
down was temporarily forestalled by the passage of an interim
budget, last week's budget debacle - the state legislature's second
in the past three years - was embarrassing. Legislators need to
do their jobs and make the tough decisions necessary to fix a $1.8
billion deficit. As they make those decisions, they need to keep in
mind this state's future - one that won't be possible if the state

This is not tag and release."
- Todd Morris, CEO of BrickHouse Security, commenting on his firm's "Child Locator" that allows
parents to track children's location electronically, as reported yesterday by the Associated Press.
CHRIS KOSLOWSKI E-MAIL CHRIS AT CSKOSLOW@UMICH.EDU
Imean, he gave a speech in
Chicago didn'gec the Copenhagen! I don'tThsaltBshsfault.
Oba eras and Oprah on our a Ding ding ding!
side. How could we se Stupidy comng inIts alltoo easy,lks'
* * *
Tesecond-worst state

4

4

doesn't invest in education.
Last week, legislators narrowly pre-
vented a complete shutdown of Michigan's
government by passing a last-minute, after-
deadline, extension budget that provided
enough money for the government to oper-
ate for another month. This temporary fix
came about because legislators have, after
months of arguing, failed to come to any
agreement about how to fill a $1.8 billion
deficit. Now, they've promised to drag out
the arguments for another month, leaving
issues that immediately impact people's
lives - like whether students will receive
needed financial aid - up in the air.
This situation is absolutely inexcusable.
Producing a budget is the primary task of
our state legislature, and that budget was
due by Oct. 1. Lawmakers knew that get-
ting a budget passed by then would require
making some tough decisions. They didn't
make those decisions and consequently
they missed their deadline. In other words,
they didn't accomplish the basic job they
were elected to do. Instead, they left the
state's financial fate up for grabs for another
month.
While many students probably don't care
much about the nuts and bolts of the Michi-
gan legislature's budget proceedings,-the
financial fate now up for grabs is especially
pertinent to them. Among the numerous
programs on the choppingblock, the Michi-
gan Promise Scholarship has seen its fund-
ing cut from the budget, added back and

cut again so many times that determining
the scholarship's status from hour to hour
has been dizzying. But that legislative see-
saw has consequences. This scholarship
program was expected to provide more
than 6,000 students on this campus with as
much as $4,000 this academic year - a fig-
ure that has an important impact on many
students'lives.
This should gravely concern lawmak-
ers. College students throughout Michigan
are relying on the Promise Scholarship to
attend college this year in the face of ris-
ing tuition costs. That's not to say that
other groups are not being affected by the
state legislature's cuts. Almost everyone
is. But the state's investment in education
is one that will affect our state's long-term
prosperity unlike almost any other issue.
It will determine whether Michigan has a
workforce educated enough to compete in
the 21st century or one that continues to
drive itself into industrial obscurity. Help-
ing these students isn't just an investment in
them, but an investment in the future of the
state economy itself.
Congressional Republicans need to face
the reality that some tax increases are nec-
essary to get the state the revenue it needs.
Democrats, for their part, will have to con-
cede cuts in order to craft a workable budget
for next year. But one area that can't afford a
cut is funding for education. It is simply too
important.

hile browsing the Internet
on Sunday, I came across
Forbes.com's fourth annual
"The best states for
business," which isĀ°
just what it sounds
like - a ranking of
the 50 states based
on their appeal to
businesses. The
article took into
account such fac-
tors as business ROBERT
costs, labor, regula-
tory environment, SOAVE
economic climate,
growth prospects
and quality of life. Even before I
opened up the slideshow with the
results, I wasn't too optimistic about
Michigan's placement.
In all honesty, I wasn't expecting
Michigan to appear until I made it to
the 40s. But it was still depressing as
I cycled through the slideshow, my
slow Internet connection forcing me
to dwell on state after state that is
better off than the one I've lived my
whole life in.
Finally, Michigan made its appear-
ance at No. 49 (if you're curious,
Rhode Island was last). Michigan
was ranked last in the crucial catego-
ries of economic climate and growth
prospects, and also scored badly on
business costs (39th) and labor (46th).
Some of these factors have to do with
the decline of the auto industry and
aren't immediately fixable. But one
contributing factor in Michigan's
failing grade can be fixed and should
be, soon - the astronomical cost of
doing business in this state. In other
words, taxes.
It's somewhat ironic that Michi-
gan's oppressive business tax is such
a pressing concern when the govern-
ment gave it a complete overhaul just

two years ago. The Michigan Busi-
. ness Tax replaced the Single Business
Tax - which was widely regarded as
overly complicated and burdensome
- in January 2008. Jeffrey Guil-
foyle of the Michigan Department
of the Treasury predicted in a study
released in September 2008 that 72
percent of Michigan taxpayers would
pay the same or less under the new
system.
If a government study predicts
something, it must come true, right?
But just one month later, the Michi-
gan Chamber of Commerce conduct-
ed a poll of its members. Of the 700
who responded, about 80 percent
said they paid more in taxes under
the new system. A separate survey by
the Chamber of Commerce found that
the MBT - and the surcharge tacked
on to it - were Michigan's number
one problem.
The 22 percent surcharge, which is
among the most egregiously burden-
some components of the MBT, pays
for tax breaks for the film industry,
among other things. While business-
es in the state struggle to stay afloat
in the midst of a disastrous economy
and mounting tax burden, their dol-
lars are being handed out to already
wealthy studio executives. These
executives are just waiting to flee the
state as soon as the money they're
leeching from local businesses runs
out.
And if the MBT stands for much
longer, the money will run out. I asked
a friend of mine who is a businessman
in the apartment business what his
tax burden is like under the new sys-
tem. He told me that his tax burden
increased substantially from the SBT
to the MBT. And he most certainly
isn't alone. According the Mackinac
Center for Public Policy's Oct. 30,
2008 assessment of the Chamber of
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:

Commerce poll, "One-third of those
reporting hikes said the increase was
in excess of 100 percent over the SBT;
eleven percent reported a hike of
more than 300 percent and one mem-
ber reported a tax increase of 1,000
percent." The assessment also found
that 15 percent of those hit with the
tax increase planned to stop expand-
ing or leave the state.
The Michigan
Business Tax will
kill the economy.
So there you have it. Businesses
are leaving Michigan and, if the
Forbes.com ranking is an indication,
no business in its right mind would
ever want to come to Michigan. This
reality should put the state legisla-
ture's current budget debate in an
entirely different context. It doesn't
really matter whether legislators cut
enough programs to solve a multi-
billion-dollar deficit - the deficit is
clearly going to be worse next year
when there are even fewer businesses
left to pay taxes.
If the legislature has any interest
in salvaging the disaster that is the
state economy, it will repeal the MBT
and make Michigan a slightly more
attractive place for business. As long
as the MBT remains, legislators might
as well make it official that their goal
is "No. 50 in 2010!" Rhode Island will
even thank them for it.

SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
Reid's dueling column a bad hope the Spartans know that we're not all like
that - but unfortunately, they probably don't.
example ofsportsmanship They get a yearly dose of arrogance right before
the game, and they can point to it as an example
of how all Michigan fans mustbe.
TO THE DAILY: This year I was pleasantly surprised to see that
I'm a current Ph.D. student and I also did my the State News writer didn't do that. I thought it
master's and undergraduate study here. So, I've washilarious, even to me - a die-hard maize and
been reading the dueling columns that run before blue fan. I appreciate his takingthe high(er) road.
the Michigan-Michigan State football game for I'm sure Rich Rod - I mean, "Name Redacted" -
quite some time now. It seems to me that every had his doubts about being able to beat Michigan
year, the Michigan Daily writer assigned to the State, and I know many of us still have our doubts
column gets more and more arrogant. about him too.
The writer always says that they're not our By the time this letter prints, we will already
real rivalry and that Michigan State is only know what happened: The "adorable" Michigan
good at basketball and hockey. Or that people State fans got an uplifting, improbable win and
only go there because they couldn't get in to it made Reid look like an idiot, or we beat them
Michigan. This year, Andy Reid didn't break down again and they continue to gripe at our
the trend. arrogance.
Many times the State News' response to the Either way, we lose. Thanks, Andy.
Michigan column has been to call us on our arro-
gance, and justly so. Reid's column makes us look John Harvey
like classless, uppity, self-entitled windbags. I Rackham
JASON MAHAKIAN E-MAIL JASON AT MAHAKIAJ@UMICH.EDU
I ;fAT Yo.
13 t T YOU. v - 2 ?AT
NJU... ~L fEA T YUc. --v
~E 6eAT YOU... Ix fYryn
MY U WAT HMe TwO Tts,
THAN YU oAT i~VEFJTFfN4
/ _
; ( /
- -

Robert Soave is the Daily's
editorial page editor. He can be
reached at rsoave@umich.edu.

4

Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, 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
MICHELLE DEWITT| W
Celebrities' kids need privacy

My name is Michelle and I am addicted to celebrity gos-
sip. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration. But I do read People
magazine on a regular basis, and I refuse to believe any
information that I did not read on perezhilton.com. I'm
exactly the type of celebrity-crazed lunatic that makes
the planet dumber, but I can't help it.
In spite of this, I do make an exception when it comes
to the children of celebrities. The scrutiny young people
receive from their peers can be disturbingly cruel. In fact,
I am confident that if Dante had been a teenager living
in the 21st century, an army of denim-mini-skirt-clad
middle school girls would have been one of the circles of
hell. But I digress. The point is that dealing with the cruel
judgment of peers is awful all on its own, and even worse
when you add the blogosphere into the mix.
Judgments, sadly, are what the daughters of Span-
ish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero were
recently forced to deal with. Laura, 16, and Alba, 13, with
the help of Spanish laws, had until recently managed to
remain out of the public eye despite being the prime min-
ister's daughters. In Spain, it's against the law for any
media outlets to publish photographs of the girls without
the permission of their parents. This had allowed the girls
to maintain the privacy that children should rightly have.
But when a photograph of the girls with their parents and
Barack and Michelle Obama was put on the White House
flickr page, Laura and Alba were thrust into the spot-
light. The photo was promptly taken off the website, but
the Internet is well-known for keeping things from ever
going away (sorry, Kanye). In addition to the presence of
the photo online, several Spanish newspapers, contrary
to requests of the Spanish government, decided to place
the photo on the front page of their papers. For the first
time in their lives, the girl's faces were all over newspa-

pers and the Internet - and their choices of hairstyle,
makeup and clothing have been extensively ridiculed by
countless websites.
Why is something that is so taboo in Spain no big issue
in the United States? How can there be any debate over
protecting the privacy of children? I don't have a good
answer for this question, because there is no good answer.
The fact that pictures of the children of public figures are
fair game to anyone with a camera is clearly wrong. These
children did not request to be the offspring of celebrities
or politicians, and they should not have to request that
their privacy be protected - that should be a given.
A Google Image search of "Malia Obama" turns up pic-
tures of her as she is being dropped off at school. Paparaz-
zi camp outside of celebrities homes after their children
are born in hopes of procuring the first photographs of
the offspring, which is hugely invasive. Photographers
also follow celebrities to parks, toy stores and other places
where a great number of non-famous children are pres-
ent. Perhaps having the bodyguard equivalent of Andre
the Giant follow celebrity children around every step
would not be as necessary if there were laws in place that
adequately protected the privacy of these children.
We all have awkward phases, but most individuals can
avoid having these phases broadcast to the entire web-
surfing world. Just because a person's parent is a diplo-
mat, movie star, singer, television personality or reality
television star does not mean these young people should
lack basic rights to privacy.
This is truly an issue of common sense - until an indi-
vidual reaches the age of 18, privacy laws should keep
them safe.
Michelle Dewitt is an LSA sophomore.

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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