4A - Tuesday, April 20, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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EDITOR IN CHIEF
RACHEL VAN GILDER
EDITORIAL PAGE 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.
'09-'10 Edgar Awards
These awards only cost $9,000 of students' money
Back when J. Edgar Hoover, that infallible defender of our
constitutional rights, was playing dictator and spying on
Americans as head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,
the Daily's editorial page handed out the Edgar Awards annually
to individuals and institutions best embodying his many admi-
rable characteristics. Of necessity, we revived the tradition in
And so we present the seventh annual
- The University of Michigan Class of
2010 Edgar for getting a little too excited
about President Barack Obama goes to the
Nobel Peace Prize Commission. When
Obama was nominated as the Nobel Peace
Prize winner, he'd only been in office for
10 days. Everyone loves Obama, but even
he admitted he probably didn't deserve the
- The "Two If By Sea" Edgar for hos-
tile invasion goes to the Asian carp for
threatening to invade the Great Lakes.
These terrifying fish could be
the biggest threat the U.S has
unilateral decision-making goes to the
University administration for imple-
menting an all-campus smoking ban. No
one else seems to have had any real input
in the decision to okay the ban, and campus
outcry has been fairly strong, but it's going
to happen anyway. Kind of like Iraq.
- The Soviet Edgar for undemocratically
(and illegally) choosing representatives goes
to the Department of Public Safety Over-
sight Committee. Of the three constituen-
cies meant to provide representatives - the
student body, the faculty body and the Uni-
versity staff - there wasn't a single one that
legally did so. The whole debacle was simply
seen since The Beatles. a e The "ze" Edgar for gen-
der-neutral language goes to
- The Michael Steele the University of Michigan
Edgar for hiring strippers in English Department for
inappropriate locations goes declaring that "they" could
to the students at Mary be used in the singular form.
Markley Residence Hall. CThat's great for people trying
While Markley is known as a to avoid the clunky "he/she,"
party dorm, having strippers I but the Daily isn't ready to
in the lounge goes just a little -- cave on this one ... yet.
-"The third annual Kwame
" The Joe "You lie!" Wil- Kilpatrick Edgar for hang-
son (R-S.C.) Edgar for failing ing onto political office after
to facilitate any useful discus- I an embarrassing scandal
sion goes to Kanye West. Like stemming from use of an elec-
Wilson's outburst during the tronic device goes jointly to
president's State of the Union Michigan Student Assembly
address, Kanye's attack on President Abhishek Mahanti
Taylor Swift just made him and Rep. Hamdan Yousuf.
even more of a jerk. But don't --: Mahanti didn't resign after he
worry, Kanye. As you give - ., misspent $9,000 of students'
your acceptance speech for ' money on fixing a website that
this Edgar, we're gonna let still doesn't work, and Yousuf
you finish. decided that voting for himself
multiple times was completely
- The GoDaddy.com Edgar r acceptable behavior. At least,
for distasteful advertising o unlike last year's winner, Uni-
goes to Topeka, Kansas for '-.versity Associate Prof. Yaron
changing its name to Google U -.Eliav, neither of these two hired
in attempt to lure Google a hooker.
Fiber to the city. Changing the city's name
was about as gimmicky as Topeka could - The Big House Edgar for intense
get, and it's not fooling anyone. Plus, every- security goes to the Big House. It's under-
one knows that Ann Arbor is just better standable that security at spring Com-
and that we should get Google Fiber. mencement is expected to be so tight that
ith Michigan's gubernato-
rial race heating up and
an utterly substandard
pool of candidates
to choose from, I
felt like utilizing
this opportunity to
interject four sug-
reforms our next
1. End the I
opment Corporation has epitomized
government mismanagement over
the last decade. The MEDC utilizes
money gathered from taxpayers and
redistributes it through targeted tax
breaks given to Gov. Jennifer Gran-
holm and her buddies' favorite com-
panies under the guise of promoting
job growth. This "picking winners
and losers" mentality is the worst
type of central economic planning.
An incident in March exemplified
the failure when the MEDC gave
$9.1 million in tax breaks to Richard
Short, a convicted embezzler whose
company address was located in a
trailer park. Pictured shaking hands
and smiling with Granholm, Short
was arrested the next day on counts
of a parole violation and failure to pay
restitution for previous charges.
The Mackinac Center for Public
Policy found that for every 100 jobs
the government promised through
the MEDC since 1995, only 29 ever
arrived. And Michigan continues to
lead the nation in unemployment at
14.1 percent, according to the U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. It's time
to recognize the MEDC's failures
and abolish an organization that's
robbing Michigan taxpayers, espe-
cially when funds could be allocated
toward more worthwhile causes.
2. Introduce HSAs.
Republican Indiana Governor
Mitch Daniels penned an excellent
Mar. 1 piece in the Wall Street Jour-
nal describing the process of allowing
state employees to opt out of Indi-
ana's public insurance plan in favor
of health savings accounts (HSAs).
Under Indiana's HSA plan, $2,750 is
deposited into each state employee's
account for health expenditures,
with the state covering the plan's
premium. The goal was to incentivize
participants to spend money wisely,
make better health decisions and
help Indiana's budget in the process.
HSAs were a tough sell under
Daniels' first year as governor
five years ago - only 4 percent of
employees opted out of public insur-
ance in favor of HSAs. Today, over
70 percent of Indiana's 30,000 state
employees utilize HSAs. Their satis-
faction with HSAs is extremely high
- only 3 percent have returned to
their public provider. In 2010 alone,
Indiana will save over $20 million
exclusively due to the HSA option
and the state's total costs will be
reduced by 11 percent.
Facing one of the most constrained
budgets in the nation, perhaps it's
time Michigan considered embrac-
ing a similar health care plan that
expands choice and lowers costs
without compromising quality.
3. Legalize it.
Legalizing growth, possession
and sale of marijuana in Michigan
and modestly taxing it would bring
much-needed revenue to a state
whose ailing budget is hemorrhaging
green. Beyond the social freedom and
potentially increased tourism that
legalization would bring, the eco-
nomic benefits of marijuana legaliza-
tion are patent.
4. Stop stupid projects.
Under President Barack Obama's
stimulus plan, $244 million was
allocated to construct a high-speed
rail line between Detroit and Chi-
cago. Some think new trains will
help the economy by providing an
enhanced means of travel and the
impetus for increased development.
Unfortunately, this notion is rooted
in the imagination of naive individu-
als lacking any trace of practical-
ity - people who envision oodles of
Michiganders crowding lines, eager-
ly awaiting rides in sleek trains from
Pontiac to Gary.
This concept could work if any-
body you knew rode trains on a regu-
lar basis to begin with. But in 2009
alone, Amtrak lost over $22 million
operating trains in Michigan. Under
the proposal, Michigan has agreed to
cover any losses from the high-speed
initiative. To cover these potential
loses, the state will either raise taxes
or cut budgets for other programs
A one-way ticket from New York
to Washington on the high-speed
Amtrak Acela starts at $133 and this
is a subsidized rate. For lower-class
individuals to afford these trains
even larger subsidies would have to
be enacted, again begging the ques-
tion of how many tax increases or
budget cuts Michigan will have to
heed this advice.
Advocates argue trains will
enhance travel between downtowns,
but fewer than 8 percent of Ameri-
cans work in major city downtowns
and these individuals tend to be
bankers, government workers and
lawyers. It shouldn't be the state of
Michigan's priority to subsidize the
travel of wealthy individuals.
The state of Michigan should scrap
the misguided fantasy of high-speed
rail that's destined for financial ruin
and instead utilize tax dollars for
essential government services.
The recommendations I've made
are practical, and politically feasi-
ble, whether it's Indiana's successful
introduction of HSAs or marijuana
legalization that's receiving serious
consideration in California. But as
a disclaimer to the dedicated Alex
Biles fan club: I have no intention of
running for office in the conceivable
- Alex Biles can be reached
- The Russell Apparel Edgar for over-
working the team goes to Michigan foot-
ball Coach Rich Roderiguez for allegedly
breaking NCAA rules governing practice
time. The University recently cut ties with
Russell for its unethical sweatshops. But
the University seems unlikely to cut ties
with Rich Rod...
" The Bush administration Edgar for
graduates and their families are urged to
show up hours in advance and the ceremo-
ny has been pushed back. But we still don't
get why it's necessary to ban purses during
the football team's regular season.
- The Santa Claus-Isn't-Real Edgar
for shattering the dreams of young people
goes to the Michigan state government
for revoking the Michigan Promise Schol-
arship. Enough said.
JASON RAYMOND AND ALEX SERWER I
TFA needs federal funding
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Nina Amilineni, Jordan Birnholtz, Adrianna Bojrab, William Butler,
Nicholas Clift, Michelle DeWitt, Brian Flaherty, Jeremy Levy, Erika Mayer,
Edward McPhee, Emily Orley, Harsha Panduranga, Alex Schiff, Asa Smith,
Brittany Smith, Robert Soave, Radhika Upadhyaya, Laura Veith
E -MAIL DIANIE:L ATIDWI)1'JLD c1UM iCHI.EDU
The Michigan Student Assembly passed a resolution
last week supporting Teach For America in its bid to
retain federal funding. TFA has relied on federal fund-
ing for years, and this money plays an instrumental role
in the organization's ability to recruit new teachers and
serve America's underperforming school districts. This
is a crucial time for TFA as it considers the prospect of
expanding to cities like Detroit and Seattle next year.
Since its inception, over 24,000 individuals have
participated in Teach For America impacting the lives
of over 3 million students nationwide. Currently, some
7,300 corps members teach in 35 regions, both urban and
rural. In 2010, more than 46,000 applicants applied for
this fall's class of 4,350 teacher corps members. Here at
the University, 461 seniors applied - an astounding 7.4
percent of the senior class. For the past four years, the
University has been the nation's largest contributor to
TFA's teacher corps.
In America, education is supposed to be the great
equalizer and the primary vehicle for upward mobil-
ity. But all too often, birthplace determines a student's
educational prospects. Across the country, the 14 million
children living in poverty have academic setbacks and,
therefore, life prospects that are dramatically different
than those of their peers in wealthier communities. Chil-
dren living in low-income communities are already two
to three grades behind their higher-income peers by the
time they reach fourth grade. About 50 percent of stu-
dents in low-income communities will not graduate from
high school by the age of 18. Only one in 10 students from
low-income communities graduate from college.
Teach For America is working to end this national
inequity and close the achievement gap. After recruiting
some of America's brightest into its teacher corps, TFA
intensively trains these individuals over the summer and
places them in America's poorest school systems. There,
they teach classes, mentor students, and provide hope for
school districts that badly need attention.
But Teach For America's work is in jeopardy. A new
congressional proposal would eliminate TFA's federal
funding for 2011-2012. For years, TFA has relied on fed-
eral funding to continue its programs and outreach to
America's poorest communities. Losing this support
would seriously inhibit the organization from its long-
term goal of ending education inequity across America.
This year, TFA requested $50 million from Congress
to meet increasing demand among college students
and communities. Without this funding, TFA would be
unable to hire more than 1,350 teachers who would teach
86,000 students in the coming school year. Losing this
funding would severely limit the ability of TFA to recruit
potentially qualified applicants at the University and
other schools. It could also prevent TFA from expanding
to Detroit, a city in desperate need of education reform.
But you can help save TFA.
First, contact your U.S. senators and representatives
in Washington and urge them to support federal funding
for TFA. Call the offices of U.S. Senators Carl Levin and
Debbie Stabenow. Visit TFA's website at http://teachfo-
ramerica.org/federalfunding. There you can send letters
and e-mails to your representatives in Washington urg-
ing them to support TFA.
Most importantly, educate yourself on the work of TFA
and the ways you can get involved. Learn about their pro-
grams, meet with their on-campus representatives, attend
information sessions and consider TFA after graduation.
Talk to friends who are or will be in the program next year.
Learn about their experiences and understand the impact
of their work on thousands of children nationwide.
As the largest contributor to TFA's teacher corps, the
University community must defend this organization
accordingly. Teach For America needs our help - let's
join them in their fight.
Jason Raymond is the vice president of MSA
and Alex Serwer is MSA's chief of staff.
I can't understand why
you bought four gallons
of soy milk, thirteen
bottles of nasal spray,
and a box of tampons.
I had to spend
all my Blue Bucks
The Daily is looking for diverse, passionate, strong student writers to join
the Editorial Board this summer. Editorial Board members are responsible for
discussing and writing the editorials that appear on the left side of the opinion page.
E-MAIL ALEX SCHIFF AT ASCHIFF@UMICH.EDU FOR MORE INFORMATION.