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October 26, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-10-26

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4A - Monday, October 26, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

L74C Mich wily

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109


For me, no burqas on the street."
- Eric Besson, French immigration minister, commenting as policymakers in France consider banning
Muslim women from wearing head-to-toe veils, as reported yesterday by the Associated Press.
Health care and pig products

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position oftthe Daily's editorial board. All othersigned articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Stop the hate
Obama must take stronger stance on LGBT discrimination
The occurrence of a violent crime is never something to be
taken lightly by the corrections system. But when a vio-
lent crime is motivated by an individual's hatred of a cer-
tain type of people, federal law makes the punishment for such
an offense more severe. On Thursday, the U.S. Congress passed
an amendment to the federal hate crimes bill that would extend
the definition of hate crimes to include sexual orientation, gen-
der identity and physical disability - minorities who had lacked
protection and recognition under the existing bill until now. And
while President Barack Obama should indeed sign the bill, there
are other actions he should take to end blatant discrimination in
government policy.

German Chancellor Otto von
Bismarck once said, "Laws
are like sausages: it's bet-
ter not to see them
being made." What
he meant was that
the compromises
and payoffs neces-yo vl
sary to move leg-
islation generally
aren't pretty and
often involve fudg-mit
ing on ideals to pass PATRICK
a reasonably good O'MAHEN
Crafting the
current health care legislation is no
exception to this statement, and it's
likely that Congressional Democrats
pushing a strong public option will
face a moment of truth on the slaugh-
terhouse floor in November.
Assuming they do not have the
votes to pass a bill with a pure public
option, Democrats should embrace a
compromise allowingstates to opt out
of a national public option. Despite a
few weaknesses, the opt-out plan will
accomplish most of the goals a pure
public option would and is far supe-
rior to other potential compromises
currently being discussed.
And remember, effective health
insurance reform is critical to recent-
ly graduated college students, who
are disproportionately likely to be
Why is the public option so impor-
tant? By providing a government-run
insurance plan, insurance companies
gain an additional competitor. Given
the government's history of running
highly efficient programs like Medi-
care - which has overhead costs of
three percent compared with the 12 to
20 percent overhead most insurance
companies have - a public option will
force insurers to keep rates lower in
order to compete, which would curb
health care costs.
The key when grinding out a com-

promise is to ensure that the sausage
still has some real meat in it -that the
final plan has the ability to curb costs.
The first two compromises, health
cooperatives and triggers, don't pass
USDA inspection.,
Cooperatives, championed by Sen.
Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), create state-
wide, consumer-owned co-ops. The
problem is that most have failed in
the past. Also, as political scientist
and public-option architect Jacob
Hacker points out in the most recent
issue of the New England Journal of
Medicine, most state-level co-ops
would be too small to negotiate rates
with health providers, canceling out
the benefits of a public option. Con-
rad's plan is like putting lipstick on a
sick pig.
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine)
has suggested creating a "triggered"
public insurance option. If private
companies can't keep costs under
control in a state after several years, a
public plan will become available. But
Snowe's plan doesn't bring home the
bacon. As Hacker argues, her trigger's
requirements are so stringent that
the trigger won't get pulled. Making
a public plan available on a state-by-
state-basis also discards the size and
simplicity that allow a unified federal
plan to control costs.
Enter Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.),
who suggests providing a public
option that states can opt to join.
Carper's plan is a pig with wings -
but it needs one more adjustment to
fly. The problem is that putting the
burden on state governments to opt
into a program makes not joining a
plan the easier option.
Instead, giving states the option to
opt out of the plan, as suggested by
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), leaves
states the flexibility to get out of the
plan if they wish, but it also puts the
burden of opting out on state legisla-
tors and governors, which takes time
and energy. As a result, most states -

or at least a solid core - will take part
in the public option, which will give it
enough size to negotiate lower rates.
One potential objection to the opt-
out plan is that states that keep the
public option will become welfare
magnets and draw low-income indi-
viduals from states that opt out. But
since the public option willbe funded
by premiums and not by state subsi-
dies, it doesn't do states any finan-
cial good to opt out. Finally, having
a public option actually will be good
for states by loweringindividual
premium costs and making the plan
more attractive for small businesses,
which currently face crushing costs
to insure their employees.
An opt-out public
option is the best


The Matthew Shepard Act will amend
the hate crime bill created after the assas-
sination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in
1968. The original law defined hate crimes
as violent acts based upon race, color,
religious affiliation or nationality. The
amendment passed on Thursday would
add crimes prompted by sexual orienta-
tion, gender identity and disability to that
list. Included in the legislation was $680
billion in defense spending in an unsuc-
cessful effort to cater to Republicans. The
bill passed the Senate 68 to 29 with only
one Republican vote.
This bill comes at a time when recogniz-
ing the bigotry that the LGBT community
faces is more importantthan ever. Between
2006 and 2007, hate crimes against people
based on sexual orientation increased
5.5 percent, according to 2008 statistics
report from the Federal Bureau of Inves-
tigation, the most recent available report.
And across the country, many states have
chosen to discriminate aainst gay people
by denying them equal marriage rights in
the last several election cycles - including
Michigan in 2004.
Excluding the LGBT community from
protection for so long was a drastic over-
sight on the part of federal lawmakers.
The legislation passed on Thursday will
finally recognize LGBT individuals - as

well as the disabled - as a minority group
deserving of the same protections against
violence based in abject hatred and intol-
erance. Whether or not the federal law is
successful in deterring hate crimes, it is a
symbolic gesture of support for communi-
ties often discriminated against.
But in addition to simply signing this
bill and offering largely symbolic support,
Obama has at his disposal the power to
end blatant discrimination. The military's
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which was
put in place by President Bill Clinton in
1993, prohibits openly gay members from
serving. During his campaign, Obama
repeatedly promised to end the policy.
Early this month, Obama reiterated his
commitment-to ending it. But promises are
no longer good enough - Obama has had
the power to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
via executive order ever since he became
president. There is no reason to delay, and
Obama's hesitation on this issue sends
mixed messages.
The hate crimes legislation will make
a long-overdue statement against bigotry
directed at the LGBT community. But the
end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" would spell
the demise of real discrimination in U.S.
federal policy. Obama has a responsibil-
ity not to let such discrimination continue
any longer.

There are weaknesses - the few
states that are likely to opt out also
tend to have embarrassingly high.
rates of uninsured individuals. For
example, the highest uninsured rate
in the country in 2008, according to
the Kaiser Foundation, is 27.7 per-
cent. That rate belongs to Texas, a
state well known for its reactionary
But at the end of the day, when
the pork hits the sausage grinder,
Schumer's opt-out compromise keeps
the goals of reform intact better than
other compromise options, if con-
gressional Democrats can't get the
votes to pass a pure public option. His
plan is far superior to the current-
ly embarrassing state of American
health insurance coverage.
- Patrick O'Mahen can be
reached at pomahen@umich.edu.

Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, Jamie Block, Ben Caleca, Michelle Dewitt,
Brian Flaherty, Emma Jeszke, Raghu Kainkaryam, Sutha K Kanagasingam, Erika Mayer,
Edward McPhee, Harsha Panduranga, Alex, Schiff, Asa Smith, Brittany Smith,
Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Laura Veith
The BlackBerry blues



Michigan rifle team not an
obscure campus club
As the president of the club rifle Team here
at Michigan, myself and other members of the
team were extremely offended by your refer-
ence to our club sport as obscure (The cult(ure)
ofclub sports, 10/06/2009).
Seeing as that you aren't familiar with, nor
have you bothered to ask us anything about our
sport or visit our table at Festifall, allow me
introduce you to it.
The Michigan Rifle Team, a Rec Sports club
team, dates back to 1907. The club has histori-
cally offered women the opportunity to learn
and develop shooting skills. Throughout most
of the club's history, practices were held at
the University's ROTC range alongside the
ROTC rifle team. In the late 1990s, the build-
ing housing the ROTC range was demolished
and no new range was constructed on campus
to replace it. Since then, the Michigan rifle
team has used the Jackson County Sportsmans
Club's range, which is a 45 minute drive from

With over 300 people signing up to join
at Festifall and the Rec Sports Expo, it has
become painfully apparent to us that the pri-
mary hindrance to our membership is that we
must drive 45 minutes to practice, , and often
rely on rides from older shooters who commute
to Jackson from the Ann Arbor area. Most of
our expensive equipment is borrowed from
them. We also receive financial support from
individuals, Michigan businesses and corpo-
rate foundations. We can't be too obscure or
we wouldn't see such outside interest in our
team's performance.
The term "obscure" was simply unnecessary.
That was a judgment passed down by you with-
out having spoken to any of us and mostly with-
out basis. We sincerely request that in future
publications about club sports and varying
levels of popularity and competitiveness, you
either make appropriate contacts and garner
evidence for your statements, or avoid making
mention of clubs like ours entirely.
Cathy Fan
The letter-writer is president of the Michigan
rifle team.

spent an eye-opening couple of
hours with my great aunt and
uncle this past weekend. Amidst
talkoffamily stories
and recollections,
we started talking
about modern tech-
nology. When the
conversation start-
ed, I was naturally
typing away on my
BlackBerry, but put
my life on pause to PATRICK
hear what they had
to say. O'MAHEN
They are most
baffled about how kids today are so
fixated on using gadgets to keep in
constant contact with aslew offriends
and acquaintances, with whom they
often share intimate and personal
information. As a result of this mod-
ern phenomenon, my aunt and uncle
feel that much of our generation has
lost the ability (and desire) to deal
with others on a one-on-one basis.
While I initially scoffed at their
ideas, it did start me thinking about
whether we have become too tied to
our electronics. Is it possible that our
generation's technological gains and
consequential technological depen-
dency might adversely affects our
interpersonal skills? Personally, I
hardly take two steps without check-
ing my BlackBerry, and I don't think
anyone would be able to make do
without their own personalized tech-
nologies. Whether it's an iCal, Black-
Berry or Mac, on a campus as large as
this one, technology certainly helps
staff and students keep their scat-
tered lives somewhat in order. But it's
interesting to think how our super-
speed typing skills might hinder our
conversational skills - and how all
the ways we stay in touch might result

in us losing that human touch.
After all, although we can submit
job applications online, we inevitably
have to confront the dreaded world of
interviews alone and in person. This
certainly doesn't bode well for col-
lege-aged students (or anyone else,
for that matter) whose people skills
may be lacking due to their depen-
dence on technology. But this doesn't
seem to be on the radars of most col-
lege students.
Older- generations love to poke
fun at our gadget-dependent lives,
but they have a point. Cell phones
and e-mail have always been a part
of my life. I remember the moments
when I got my first cell phone and
e-mail address as vividly as I remem-
ber where I was when 9/11happened
- sad, but true. Throughout middle
school and high school, I grew to
love the convenience of making plans
via text and submitting assignments
online. Older generations may not
have been spoiled with these same
conveniences, but as a result, they
were forced to pick up the phone and
have one-on-one conversations far
more often than we do today.
Because these technological and
cultural changes occurred mainly
within the past century, I also find
it interesting to examine the Baby.
Boomer generation, better known
as our parents. My mother and I
have gotten in countless (and often
pointless) arguments over her need-
ing assistance with her new piece of
technology. Anyone who's seen a mid-
dle-aged man or woman awkwardly
poking at a cell phone knows exactly
what I mean. But while I find her
technological incompetence embar-
rassing, I must admit she engages in
far more personal contact as a result
of her struggles. While I might Google

an answer to a question, my mom
seeks help from someone face-to-
face - something she finds necessary
and I, her BlackBerry-brainwashed
daughter, will probably miss out on.
tional discrepancies, I also found that
even the rare times we do embrace
personal interaction, our obsession
with knowing everybody's every
move interferes. Our phones serve to
fill the "awkward silences" unique to
the 21st century. How are we expect-
ed to keep up a five minute conversa-
tion without the support of the six or
seven people we're conversing with
simultaneously in cyber space?
The texting
generation is
missing out.
Now when somebody enters aroom
full of people, rather than attempting
to strike up a conversation, he or she
can seek refuge in cyberspace and
remain fully engaged. I'm not sure
this bodes well for the upcoming pro-
fessional lives of today's college stu-
Obviously, I would still cry should
anyone ask me to go without my
electronics for a week. But there is
something a real person can convey
through a smile that an emoticon just
can't express. We should keep this
in mind lest the technological mania
leaves us lost in translation.
- Leah Potkin can be reached
at lpotkin@umich.edu.


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