4 - Friday, December 11, 2009
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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.
Right climate for clange
Congress must pass greenhouse gas emissions regulations
or weeks, environmental activists have been eagerly await-
ing the upcoming United Nations Climate Conference in
Copenhagen and hoping that at the conference, the United
States will take a firm stance on greenhouse gas emissions. As the
second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, the United
States is currently failing its obligation to protect the environment.
But on Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency made a land-
mark decision that designates greenhouse gases as a threat to public
health - a step deemed necessary by the Supreme Court in order
for the EPA to regulate emissions. With the whole world watching,
President Barack Obama should pledge to get serious on climate
change, and Congress should follow his words with actions.
Yep, that's exactly (freshman)
whatfinals are like
)n the brightside, you
only have 7 more
semesters to go
The definition of success
or most of my life, I've had a
mild obsession with excep-
tional things like great litera-
ture, Jimi Hendrix
pion athletes and
people who are
in love with what
they do. Since I
was a kindergart-
ner, I've also had
a less mild obses-
sion with trying
to be exceptional BRIAN
myself. I frequent- FLAHERTY
ly argued with my
parents when they
tried to tell me
that it was okay to get a "B" once in
a while, because I thought I could do
better. Going into my last semester
at the University, I still think "fail-
ure" when I see any sub- "A" letter
on my Wolverine Access transcript.
It's not surprising, then, that I want
an exceptional career. And I'm not
special in that regard. Most students
share my goal.
After several semesters being sur-
rounded by smart, ambitious Busi-
ness School students, I've noticed
that there are striking differences
in the ways people define an excep-
tional career. And the way people
define success can have a big impact,
not only on decisions about their first
jobs, but also how much they achieve
and happy they are in their careers.
As it is commonly used, the word
"success" is sometimes synonymous
with another word - "winning." Suc-
cess is beating the other guy and get-
ting the big salary. Success is what
happens when other people think
you're a success or when you can con-
vince them of it.
As a junior, I attended a recruiting
event for the Boston ConsultingGroup.
Hardly ten words were out of the BCG
representative's mouth before he was
compelled to announce that he was a
partner at the firm and that he'd gotten
his MBA at Harvard. He then delivered
a presentation that was fixated on his
firm's corporate mantra: "We're Win-
ning." Some of my sharpest classmates
ate it up. High achievers who knew
little about -BCG Consulting before
they entered the B-School competed
intensely to land one of the select open-
They aren't alone. I know of many
students who are competing for or have
accepted jobs that are considered pres-
tigious. Getting a job at a top-ranked
employer is a lot like getting an "A+".
It's a signal that someone performed
exceptionally. The money is good. It
elevates social status. The addition to
one's r6sum6 opens career options. It's
a good choice for some people.
But what surprises me is that most
of my peers I've heard from don't
intend to keep those prestigious jobs
forlong. In tenyears, theymightwant
to be an entrepreneur, a restaurant
owner, a social activist or someone
who works internationally, but they
certainly don't express any wish to
still be working long hours as a high-
profile banker or consultant.
If a recruiter held a gun to my head
and told me to accept a job like that,
I like to think I'd still say "no." One
reason is that a person's first job after
college sets the tone for their career.
I don't mean that a graduate's first job
commits them to a particular career.
It doesn't. In fact, the average Ameri-
can switches careers three times, and
many do it far more frequently than
that. What I mean is this: Ifa person
puts off doing what they really want
to do and takes a job that's socially
accepted, that's what the person, in
all likelihood, will continue to do.
That's precisely what happens to
people in many cases. When people
treat a job as a means to an end, they
often forget what the end was. And the
pressure can be intense. I am curious
to know what Jeffrey Skilling's career
goals were before he went to Harvard
Business School, joined a prestigious
consulting firm, made partner and left
to engineer massive accounting fraud
at Enron. It's all too easy for gradu-
ates to get bogged down in day-to-day
tasks, the typical career path of the
profession, supporting a family and fit-
ting into their social role.
forget to love
what you do.
In the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court case
Massachusetts v, EPA, the court ruled that
the EPA should declare greenhouse gasses
a threat to public health before it regulates
their emission. While the EPA officially
made this designation earlier this week,
Obama has reassured members of Con-
gress that the EPA will take no immediate
regulatory action without new legislation.
This comesadespite assurances to the inter-
national community that U.S. emissions
will be reduced 17 percent by 2020.
This move to reclassify emissions as
harmful was long overdue, and it's about
time the EPA made it. Whether or not
the EPA actually takes the next step and
directly regulates emissions - which
would likely prompt lawsuits and court
cases -the EPA's designation should send a
message to lawmakers: Get moving before
the EPA does your job for you. Legislation
that would regulate emissions by creating a
"cap-and-trade" system was passed by the
House of Representatives on June 26, but
has since stalled in the Senate. Delaying on
this issue is unacceptable, and Congress
should get an emissions bill to Obama's
desk as soon as possible.
Regulating emissions is as critical as
ever. There is near certain evidence now
that humans are contributing to a build-
up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,
which raises temperatures and melts polar
ice. This results in higher sea levels and
regional climate changes that will damage
the agriculture industry, causes extinc-
tions of species and disrupt water resourc-
es. In the long run, fixing these problems
or at least mitigating these consequences
will be difficult - in some cases, impos-
sible - without a concerted effort to fight
climate change now.
But America's approach to climate
change has been wholly inadequate com-
pared to the rest of the developed world.
In the past, the United States has avoided
international agreements arguing that it
would wait for commitments from China,
the nation that produces the most green-
house gas emissions of any in the world.
U.S. leaders fear that China will gain a
decisive economic advantage if the Unit-
ed States regulates emissions but China
doesn't. But this is backward logic - the
United States should be taking a tough
stance on climate change in hopes of per-
suading other nations to adopt similar
positions. Anything short of that is a dis-
The upcoming conference in Copenha-
gen is a good place to start. Obama should
let the world know that the United States is
serious about confronting climate change.
And Congress should echo his sentiments
by getting a bill that regulates emissions to
As for me, I would count my career
as a success if and only if I love what
I'm doing, think it's important and
can perform it well. Undermy defini-
tion of success, I can start being suc-
cessful immediately after college, but
I can't be successful in a job if it's only
a means to an end. Trying to do what
you want immediately and over other
options can be a risk, to be sure. But
as relief workers, entrepreneurs, suc-
cessful artists, Warren Buffett (the
second richest man in the world) and
other people who are exceptionally
good at what they do would likely tell
you, the risk is well worth it.
-Brian Flaherty is an
associate page editor. He can be
reached at email@example.com.
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Getting involved in MSA
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Nina Amilineni, Emily Barton, Jamie Block, William Butler, Ben Caleca,
Nicholas Clift, Michelle DeWitt, Brian Flaherty, Emma Jeszke, Erika Mayer,
Edward McPhee, Harsha Panduranga, Alex Schiff, Asa Smith,
Brittany Smith, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Laura Veith
Stop the health care stall
As our nation contemplates the potential
impact of the most important health care leg-
islation ever to grace the chambers of Capitol
Hill, many can't help but wonder what's taking
As with all major legislative action, the
struggle for health insurance reform has gen-
erated controversy as it progresses through
each stage of consideration. The proposed
reform would affect the entire health care sec-
tor and the lives of millions of Americans, so
it's important that the legislation come to frui-
tion through healthy, vigorous debate.
And while the debate has been vigorous, the
tactics of Republican senators have been any-
thing but healthy. For the past several months,
they have schemed ways to lock down the Sen-
ate with procedural technicalities rather than
address the legislation based on its merits.
Take, for instance, the treatment of hard
quorum calls. Senate rules require a majority
of senators to be present on the floor before
business can proceed. This rule is often waived
by unanimous consent, but ifa single member
objects, then the presiding officer must check
attendance by reading off all 100 names of the
senatorial body. Since the assembly routinely
goes into adjournment, Republican senators
can use this tool to postpone discussion several
times per day.
In addition, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has
threatened to force Senate clerks to read aloud
the reform bill in its entirety to what will surely
be an empty chamber.
one of the most abused procedures thus far
in the health care debate has been the amend-
ment process. Senators can call for each pro-
posalto be divided up into independent debates
and votes, which unnecessarily increases the
amount of time for each section to pass on
the floor. Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) explicitly
encourages his fellow Republicans to propose
"an unlimited number of amendments - ger-
mane or non-germane - on any subject" that
would force the Senate to debate and then vote
on a series of irrelevant alterations that are
protected from compromise by the rules of
unanimous consent. This is known as a filibus-
ter by amendment because it has the potential
to lengthen debate indefinitely with no dis-
And after months of squabbling over frivo-
lous amendments, points of order and issues of
Senate procedure, the Senate rules allow the
Republican leadership to invoke the procedur-
al filibuster and saddle Senate Majority Leader
Harry Reid (D-NV) with the responsibility to
find a three-fifths majority (60 votes) in favor
of the bill.
In short, Senate Republicans have geared up
to do anything and everything in their power
to prevent health insurance reform from com-
ing to an up-or-down vote. When the challenge
at hand is designing a piece of legislation that
will provide improved health insurance cov-
erage for millions of uninsured Americans,
you would think that our Republican senators
would take a more proactive role in the debate.
For all their talk about defending the middle
class, it is puzzling that the Republicans have
chosen to impede health insurance reform and
ignore the millions of Americans who are suffer-
ing under the broken health care system. Since
2000, the cost of health insurance has doubled,
and medical problems remain a leading cause of
personal bankruptcy. These issues will not sim-
ply disappear. Health insurance reform is needed
to ensure that hard-working Americans no lon-
ger have to decide between maintaining financial
security or seeking medical care.
We are in favor of a vigorous public debate
both on and off the Senate floor. Reform is
critical to the long-term fiscal stability of our
country and must be crafted thoughtfully.
Nonconstructive obstruction, however, should
not be part of the process. It is our sincere hope
that the Senate is able to overcome these pro-
cedural challenges and pass comprehensive
health insurance reform for the American
This viewpoint was written by Robert
Bowen and Devin Parsons on behalf of the
University's chapter of the College Democrats.
As a representative-elect for the College of Engineer-
ing - specifically, one who ran as an independent - I'd
like to share my reaction to Alex Schiff's recent viewpoint
regarding the Michigan Student Assembly. (Hey MSA,
make yourselfmatter, 12/03/2009).
I believe it can be generally agreed that the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict is an issue that isn't directly relevant
to MSA. MSA is a place to serve the student body within
the context of the University. There are many interna-
tional issues that our world faces today, and for MSA to
respond with a position or action to some of them would
arguably not be an efficient use of the assembly's efforts.
Student organizations have every right to lobby state and
federal legislative bodies to action, and MSA has the duty
to defend that right, but it seems unreasonable for the
student government to tackle these itself. On this topic,
I agree with Schiff that such issues are largely irrelevant
to the assembly.
Although Schiff continues to provide legitimate con-
cerns, my agreement with his argument may end with his
stance on the aforementioned. To reduce MSA to nothing
"more than a glorified middle school student council with
fancy websites" is rather extreme. MSA controls a bud-
get that is within hundreds of thousands of dollars. I'd be
interested to learn about any middle school student coun-
cil commandingsuch funds. Furthermore, MSA's website
could be much "fancier." The functionality and resources
it provides to students should be improved.
It may be that many students are apathetic to MSA.
I find this to be unfortunate, however legitimate it may
be. Perhaps if students cared more, things would actu-
ally change. Democratic governments do not function
well without participation from their constituents. Schiff
must have come from one large high school for his "high
school class president" election to garnish as many votes
as the MSA election did. Yet the point is understood - the
student turnout is terribly low.
This may result, in large part, from the great amount
of ignorance students have when it comes to MSA. I have
encountered many individuals who don't know what the
acronym stands for, let alone what the assembly does. I
believe this is largely the fault of the assembly for not
educating students about their student government. One
possible solution is to establish some presence during ori-
entation to introduce students to MSA.
I may have the most contention with Schiff's argu-
ment against both the party system and independent
candidates. I didn't seek to be a party candidate because
I didn't feel like the parties were very highly regarded
by students, nor was I very educated on what the parties
stood for and their track records. Therefore, I chose to
be an independent. To compare independent candidates
to "emo kids in high school that told you they don't have
a label" is a bit ridiculous. I ran on a platform. I am an
independentbecause I wanted to represent myself and my
specific views - not that those views are uncommon.
The problems with electing representatives to the
Department of Public Safety Oversight Committee have
been addressed, albeit rather late. It was unjustifiable
to violate state law. However, the reasoning behind the
appointment method - though found to be illegal - is
logical. If the voter turnout for MSA representative elec-
tions is quite low, one can imagine what the numbers may
be for a direct election for the committee. It may simply
be decided by who has more friends. The legitimacy of
one's interest could therefore be an issue; it must be more
than a r6sume booster.
What I believe in comes down to transparency and
accountability. MSA must communicate its proceedings
in a convenient manner to the student body. One positive
change is that WOLV-TV will begin broadcasting MSA
meetings live next semester. The average public turnout
to the meetings is generally quite low, and I hope that
TV coverage will eliminate the excuse that it is conve-
nient to venture to the third floor of the Michigan Union
to watch the meetings. I hope further improvements to
transparency are made through greater communication
and publication of documents. In exchange for the right
to transparency, the student body has the duty to hold
MSA accountable for its actions and to participate more
I appreciate that Schiff cared enough about MSA to
write a viewpoint. I hope that more students might care
Kyle Summers is an Engineering freshman.
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