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February 02, 2010 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-02-02

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4 - Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4 71d tgan atl
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Still being a kid at heart Being hospitalized when
by throwing outrageous the explosive backpack
sledding parties at age designed to propel you
62, as did an Indepen- blows up, as happened to
dence Township man. that man on Sunday.
- As reported by the Detroit Free Press yesterday.






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.
Ttyl cnt txt now
State must start PR campaign to stop texting while driving
t takes only three seconds of distraction to cause 80 percent
of accidents, according to a 2006 study by the Virginia Tech
Transportation Institute and National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration. And most text messages take longer than three sec-
onds to type. Text messaging is a dangerous distraction on the road,
where conditions and threats change suddenly. The Michigan Sen-
ate recently passed a pair of bills that will ban texting while driving.
While the bill is an important measure, the state should combat this
dangerous habit with an exhaustive statewide media campaign to
make people aware of the consequences of driving while texting.

w e d u r e m C o rt v 'i ' e P o pl

Michigan will soon join the 28 states
that currently have a partial or total ban
on texting while driving. Michigan State
Senate Bill 402, passed on Jan. 29, will
make texting while driving a secondary
offense. Police officers will not be able to
pull over an alleged texting driver. But if
drivers pulled over for other reasons, like
speeding or reckless driving, are found to
have been texting, they will face additional
charges and fines. The accompanying Sen-
ate Bill that outlines enforcement, Bill 468,
prescribes a $200 fine for first-time offend-
ers. Subsequent offenders are subject to a
$500 fine.
Most people know the dangers of driv-
ing drunk. But not as many are concerned
about the dangers of texting enough to
leave their cell phones in their pockets or
purses. But a 2009 study by the VTTI con-
cluded that drivers are 23 times more likely
to crash while texting than while focus-
ing on the road. And a 2008 study by the
Transport Research Laboratory showed
that texting while driving decreases reac-
tion time more than the effects of alcohol.
Drunk drivers are subject to huge fines,
license suspensions and jail time. And
though texting while driving is compara-.
bly dangerous, little has been done to stop
it in Michigan - until now.
The current form of the bill is a relief.

During the time that the bill was tabled in
2009, there was discussion of making vio-
lation of the ban a primary offense, which
could have given officers tremendous
latitude to pull drivers over for anything
resembling texting. Making the violation a
secondary offense avoids this concern.
But the legislation alone isn't the most
effective solution to the dangers of tex-
ting while driving. The state must fund a
campaign highlighting the risks associ-
ated with driving while distracted. And
since teens - who already have a high risk
of accident - commonly text more than
adults, they are more likely to be texting
while driving. Incorporating lessons on
the dangers of texting while driving into
driver's education programs could help
stop the problem before it starts.
Next, the state should launch a media
campaign that will make drivers aware of
the consequences of getting caught tex-
ting while driving. The state's successful
"Click It or Ticket" program should be the
model for a similar campaign to stop tex-
ting while driving. Efforts to avoid a fine,
even more than knowledge of the danger,
will prevent drivers from texting.
Texting misspelled messages to friends
isn't worth causing a car accident. The state
has done its part to outlaw this dangerous
behavior. Now it must spread the word.

Dear Little Guy,
Once again, we, the little
guys, have been told that our
power to affect
change is only as
large as our wallets.
After we over-
whelmingly elect-
ed a candidate on a x
platform of change
and watched his
efforts at reform be
strangled by corpo-
rate lobbyists and ALEX
right-wing ideo-
logues, exercising SCHIFF
our right to have
our voices heard
has become more
difficult still.
After we watched Wall Street
reward itself with billions of dollars in
bonuses as a prize for plundering the
livelihoods of average Americans and
sending our economy into its deep-
est downturn of our generation, the
good of the people has yet again taken
a backseat to the good of Big Business,
Big Labor and anythingelse bigenough
to outshout and outspend the little guy.
After nearly three decades of ris-
ing inequality and marginalization of
anyone not lucky enough to be among
the richest one percent, the voice of the
little guy will be diluted even further
thanks to the will of five individuals.
On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme
Court struck down decades of judicial
precedent when it ruled on Citizens
United v. Federal Election Commis-
sion. In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme
Court held that corporations have an
essentiallylimitless right to run adver-
tisements for political campaigns.
The majority found justification for
its decision in the First Amendment,
claiming that a corporation has the
same right as any of us to freedom of
speech and expression.
I would love for someone out there

to tell us how - after this deplorable
decision - they can denounce with
a straight face "liberal" judges for
their "judicial activism," "legislat-
ing from the bench" and all the other
cute little phrases conservatives have
invented for not getting their way. The
Supreme Court has made a 180-degree
turnaround and decided that a wealth
of rulings dating back before any of
us were born were errors. This radi-
cal departure from past rulings on
campaign finance - some as recent as
2003- is the epitome ofjudicial activ-
ism and was driven by the conserva-
tive wing of the Court. As Justice John
Paul Stevens stated in his spirited dis-
sent, "The only relevant thing that has
changed ... is the composition of this
The threat of corporate power to
the integrity of a democracy has been a
concern since this nation's founding. In
1816, Thomas Jefferson wrote, "I hope
we shall crush in its birth the aristoc-
racy of our moneyed corporations,
which dare already to challenge our
government to a trial of strength and
bid defiance to the laws of our coun-
try."While the structure, activities and
nature of businesses have obviously
evolved since that time, the message
behind Jefferson's statement remains
unchanged and eternally relevant.
Corporations (and large powerful
groups in general), if allowed, have
the ability to wield an unequal amount
of influence in the political process.
Politicians hear those voices far more
directly than our own viathe process of
lobbying. This is the process by which
corporations and other large special
interest groups send representatives to
pressure members of Congress to enact
policies that further their goals and/or
boost their profits.
But there is no lobbyist for "We
the People."
Consider the factthat, accordingto a
December poll by the National Wildlife.

Federation, 82 percent of voters wants
more government investment in clean
energysources and 67percentsupports
the government limiting carbon emis-
sions. That's an enormous majority of
us that favors these policies, yet our
will has not become law. The cap-and-
trade legislation passed by the House
of Representatives to address this issue
- which it has already watered down
to a barely tolerable level of efficacy -
has sat dead in the Senate.
The People should *
have the loudest
voice in politics.
The reason is simple: money.
According to the Center for Respon-
sive Politics, in 2009, the oil and gas
industry spent $120,729,855 in lobby-
ing to make sure its voice drowned out
ours. And politicians know how valu-
able this sector can be in a campaign
- in 2008 the oil and gas industry
made campaign contributions totaling
$35,589,287. No wonder Republicans
are fighting so hard against a cause so
many of us favor - 77 percent of that
money went to their party's candidates.
And this was all before the Supreme
Court gave corporations an even larg-
er and more entrenched role in the
political process. The disappointing
reality is that all voices are not equal
when money plays such a large role in
our politics. But even if you find my
outrage too strong or my rhetoric too
harsh, I have a voice, and despite this
gross blow to democracy, Iwill make it
heard. Will you?
- Alex Schiff can be reached
at aschiff@umich.edu

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 tothedaily@umich.edu.
Green Crusade falls short


Part bromide, part battle cry, the phrase
"Go green" inspires something akin to moral
superiority combined with tech savvy. Any-
one that has visited a college campus in the
last five years has seen the extent to which
"being green" has dominated everything from
research to the mottos of the maintenance
crews. Being green is supposedly the answer to
everything from economic recession to climate
change, but what has the Green Crusade done
to deserve this pedestal?
With people like Paul Ehrlich claiming that
"England [would] not exist by the year 2000"
back in 1969, it's almost too easy to cherry pick
absurd quotes from the leaders of the Green
Crusade. But what the Green Crusade has actu-
ally done since it became a dominant force in
American and global culture is more telling
than a few poorly thought-out one liners.
Consider, for instance, the billions of dollars
of taxpayer money poured into research and
development of hydrogen-based alternative
fuel technologies, largely at the behest of the
Green Crusade. Last year, Secretary of Ener-
gy Stephen Chu announced that he felt that a
hydrogen-based car economy wouldn't be fea-
sible in the coming decades and promptly took
an axe to the hydrogen car initiative, reducing
fiunds by $100 million. Instead, the current
administration has elected to pursue electrical
and hybrid "solutions." But the real punch line
is that, in the meantime, the Green Crusade has
been vigorously advocating another of its main
agendas, a "Cap and Trade" scheme, which
means that, in the words of President Barack
Obama, "Electricity rates would necessarily
skyrocket." The Green Crusade is not offer-
ing a better source of energy at all, merely less
energy all around.
And how about the story of BrightSource
Energy's Mojave power plant? BrightSource is
a developer of solar-based energy that recently
proposed the construction of a 5,130-acre solar
farm capable of generating over 500 megawatts

of electricity in a remote region of the eastern
Mojave Desert. As a leader in renewable ener-
gy, BrightSource has taglines and business
themes with a clearly "green" bend to them,
so it should have gone forth with the blessing
of the Green Crusade, right? Wrong. Between
opposition from the Wildlands Conservancy
and a push for legislation to turn the area into a
national hsonument, BrightSource had to scrap
plans for the solar plant. The policies of the
various factions of the Green Crusade again
came into conflict, resulting in lost time and
destroyed wealth.
Some might say that these issues arise due to
a few irrational elements present in the move-
ment. This perspective fails to recognize that
such conflicts arise when energy policy is made
by pitting the earth against humanity. When a
criterion for evaluation of energy policy is "mini-
mizing impact" on the earth, the logical result
will be outcomes that eliminate energy produc-
tion and use. The Green Crusade has provided
a plethora of examples showing how its driving
philosophy ultimately leads not to alternative,
abundant, clean energy but just to a reduction in
energy consumption altogether. Energy is vital
to the wondrous technologies that contribute
to America's standard of living. From BMWs to
gene sequencers to iPhones to particle accelera-
tors, all are dependent on abundant, cheap ener-
gy. It's time for Americans to re-evaluate their
decision to allow the Green Crusaders to become
spokesmen for the future of energy, technology
and even morality in our country.
The Students of Objectivism will be hosting
a guest speaker to further discuss this issue.
Keith Lockitch, a fellow from the Ayn Rand
Center for Individual Rights, will speak on
Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Angell Hall
Auditorium C. The event is open to the public.
We welcome those interested in hearing a dif-
ferent perspective on the Green Crusade.
Alexander Hrin is a graduate student.

t seems I may owe my readers an
apology. Having reread the col-
umn I wrote two weeks ago about
the Michigan gov-
erhor's race (The
amazing, underrat- 3
ed race, 01/19/10),
it's apparent that
I sounded like a
Republican cheer- '
leader. So this
week, I'm set- '
ting out to redeem
myself to my liberal ROBERT
friends. SOAVE
Enter state Rep.
Paul Scott (R-
Grand Blanc).
Scott, a 27-year-old who earned
his undergraduate and law degrees
from the University, was first elected
to the state House of Representatives
in 2008. In the same election that
brought the United States its first black
president, President Barack Obama,
Scott became one of only two African
Americans elected to the state House
since 1904. In his first year in office
he's done nothing but annoy me, espe-
cially with his unwavering support
for the statewide ban on smoking in
privately owned establishments. But I
know, my liberal friends, that this may
actually endear him to many of you.
Patience - you will share my loathing
of Scott, I promise.
According to an article in the Flint
Journal last month, Scott has made
plans to run for Secretary of State. In
a letter announcing his candidacy, he
spelled out his top four priorities if
elected to the position. Let me draw
your attention to number three on
his list: "I will make it a priority to
ensure transgender individuals will
not be allowed to change the sex on
their driver's license in any circum-
Yes, you read that correctly.
I know what you're thinking:
finally, a candidate with the courage
to scale back rights for the transgen-

dered. And these people thought they
could have difficult; expensive, life-
altering surgeries to help them feel
comfortable with themselves - and
that the rest of us would just put up
with it! Thank goodness we've got
Scott looking out for us. "That's who
you are. You can have cosmetic sur-
gery or reassignment surgery but
you are still that gender," he told
the Michigan Messenger last month.
There's no fooling this guy.
But not only is Scott passionate
about shunning an already marginal-
ized community - doing so is in fact
his third most important governmen-
tal priority. If you were unable to sleep
at night out of fear that the next Sec-
retary of State might waste time sim-
plifying Michigan's voter registration
or driver's licensing systems instead of
chasing transgender people back into
the shadows from whence they came,
Scott should put you at ease. Forming
a better relationship with the Attorney
General's office? Nope. Consolidat-
ing branch offices? Further down the
list. Reducing expenditures in order
to lessen the tax burden? Please. Tax-
payers are obviously more interested
in fighting for the obscure causes of a
fringe social conservative agenda than
saving money.
Speaking of the fringe social con-
servative agenda, the Grand Rapids
Press reported last month that the
Michigan chapter of the Ameri-
can Family Association is the group
demanding that someone take up this
fight. In the article, Michigan AFA
President Gary Glenn cited trans-
gender people using restrooms other
than those intended for their original
biological sex as one of the reasons
for revising the current policy, which
allows the transgendered to change
the sex on their licenses.
But even if your top concern really
is this whole restroom thing (and if it
is, you are an absurd person), driver's
licenses don't really affect the situa-
tion. I don't remember ever having to

show my license to use the restroom.
Will Secretary of State officials now
stand guard at every toilet in the state?
Will they conduct full-body searches
to discover your true gender? Does the
AFA support such action?
Gender identity
shouldn't be
All jokes asideit's reallya shame to
see such a chronically misunderstood
and disrespected minority treated so
terribly. Choosing to undergo gender
reassignment surgery or seek ther-
apy for gender-related issues takes a
great deal of courage. The least the
state can do is support such courage
by granting transgender people some
dignity and letting them change the
sex on their licenses.
Which brings me back to candidate
Scott. I expect such lunacy from the
AFA (this organization recently boy-
cotted Gap and Old Navy for not being
"pro-Christmas" enough), not from
Republican legislators. And what's
more, I expect much better from grad-
uates of the University. How someone
could spend years in Ann Arbor and
not gain a single ounce of compassion
for socially marginalized people is
beyond me.
But even social conservatives
should recognize that a guy who lists
this issue in his top four priorities is
the wrong candidate for Secretary
of State. Republican primary voters,
show us that you won't fall for such
pointless demagoguery and pick some-
body else.
- Robert Soave was the Daily's
editorial page editor in 2009. He can
be reached at rsoave@urich.edu.



Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, William Butler, Nicholas Clift,
Michelle DeWitt, Brian Flaherty, Jeremy Levy, Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee,
Emily Orley, Harsha Panduranga, Alex Schiff, Asa Smith, Brittany Smith,
Radhika Upadhyaya, Laura Veith

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