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October 21, 2010 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-10-21

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4A - Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

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





Take back political correctness

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position oftthe Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views ofttheir authors.
Employing the stimulus
State must find funds for unemployment benefits
As Michigan limps out of the recession, it may have to
face yet another obstacle: the expiration of federal aid to
state unemployment programs in the beginning of 2011.
Michigan's unemployment programs will be left scrambling to
find new funding. And as the state's jobless rate sits at 13 per-
cent, these job programs are essential for Michigan residents.
A large number of people depend on insurance checks to make
ends meet, so terminating benefits isn't an option. Though the
U.S. Congress must extend assistance as the state recovers, the
Michigan legislature must find stable internal funding for these
benefits to help the state's residents.


Currently, part of the federal stimulus
package allows states to borrow interest-
free from the federal government specifi-
cally to fund unemploymentprograms. This
measure is scheduled to expire in January,
which will make it difficult for the state to
pay for unemployment benefits. According
to an Oct. 19 article in The Michigan Mes-
senger, the state's federal interest bill will
reach $150 million in the 2011 fiscal year if
the relief isn't extended. To keep the budget
in order, the state maybe forced to cut some
unemployment benefits.
Maintaining funding for unemployment
benefits is especially important in Michi-
gan - the state's unemployment rate was
13.1 percent in August, according to the
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That makes
Michigan's unemployment rate second
only to Nevada's, which was 14.4 percent in
August. And Michigan's rate is greater than
the national average by about 4 percent.
The state has a responsibility to its citizens
to help them through periods of economic
strife. And cutting unemployment benefits
in the current economic climate would be
tantamount to abandoning the people who
lost their jobs asa result of the recession and
who depend on unemployment insurance.
To combat the potential loss of fund-

ing, money could be redirected to unem-
ployment programs from the state's other
expenditures. For example, some of the
state's planned $2 billion spending on the
Department of Corrections for the 2011 fis-
cal year could beused to help fill the gap left
by the withdrawal of federal aid.
But any redistribution of funds will
probably need to be accompanied by a tax
increase. Targeted increases of sin taxes
- taxes on "sin items" like cigarettes and
liquor - may be good options to minimize
negative impacts on the state's budget. Such
increases could help tide Michigan over
until the economy recuperates and other
tax revenues recover enough to fund the
essential roles of the state.
Though Michigan should be financially
independent and fiscally responsible, the
federal aid shouldn't be allowed to expire
yet - some states, like Michigan, aren't yet
ready to fend for themselves. The U.S. Con-
gress should vote to extend the lending deal
until states' economies are more stable.
Michigan's economy isn't ready to stand
on its own two feet yet. To protect those hit
hardest by the recession, the state and fed-
eral government should take incremental
steps in the short term to ensure that those
in need of aid aren't left stranded.

After seven years without a
mascot, Mississippi Univer-
ity announced on Oct. 14 a
replacement of its previous mascot,
Colonel Reb. The
Colonel - an old
Southern man who
looks like a ste-
reotype of a nine-
teenth century
plantation owner
- was banished
in 2003, and will
now be replaced
by the Rebel Black JEREMY
Bear. Colonel LEVY
Reb's departure
has not been met
with unanimous
approval. A group of students found-
ed The Colonel Reb Foundation in
its memory and plan on dressing like
the old mascot at upcoming football
The Colonel Reb Foundation's
founder snarked to The New York
Times in an Oct. 14 article that the
school should call itself "Politically
Correct University."
Unfortunately, the term 'politi-
cally correct' doesn't have much of
a reputation. As this case shows, it's
frequently used to discredit liber-
als as oversensitive or as looking for
excuses to take offense. Many on the
left try to avoid being characterized
this way. For instance, LSA adver-
tises its Intergroup Relations pro-
gram - which facilitates dialogue
between typically opposing groups -
as "beyond politically correct."
There are certainly cases when
PCness can "run amok," to steal a
phrase from fellow Daily columnist
Imran Syed (Political correctness run
amok, 02/21/2010). But in the case of
sports mascots that invoke troubled
pasts, the left can't be bullied by the
term. It's a case where being politi-
cally correct makes the most sense.
Certain attempts to be PC can be
trivial or unproductive. For instance,
trying to correct friends and acquain-
tances every time they misuse theword

gay' is probably a losingbattle. Perhaps
my favorite example of PC gone wrong
was when I was in South Africa two
summers ago and a teacher, who was
giving my group a tour of his school,
continuously referred to his students
as "African American." But none of his
students were actually American -
theywere simplyAfrican.
But the fight against offensive
sports mascots can be productive.
Sports are tremendously important
to American culture. For that rea-
son, the symbols used as mascots are
pervasive and meaningful to a lot of
people. At the same time, some of
these mascots carry the memory of
the history that comes with them. By
changing mascots, a university or a
franchise can signal how American
values have changed over time and
how certain practices that were once
acceptable no longer are.
Colonel Reb's historical signifi-
cance is fairly conspicuous. His use
as a mascot romanticizes the Ante-
bellum South, which can't be viewed
separately from the slave system that
supported it. Furthermore, the cari-
cature was developed in the 1940s
and was part of university culture
during periods characterized by
racial struggles.
In recent years, the Ole Miss lead-
ership has made many changes to
amend its image as a racially intol-
erant university. It has admitted a
larger percentage of black students,
scolded the use of Confederate flags
at football games and abandoned
"Dixie" as its fight song, according
to a Sept. 19 article in The New York
Times. The decision to abandon Colo-
nel Reb was part of the same trend.
Ole Miss isn't the only university
with mascot controversies. Many
universities and professional sports
franchises are under scrutiny for
using Native American mascots.
Though controversies with Native
Americans are currently less salient
than racial issues, the use of Native
Americans as mascots is no more

There are few other cases where it
has become common practice to use
living and prominent ethnic groups
as a mascot. Most mascots and team
names tend to fall under the follow-
ing categories: inanimate objects,
animals, historical groups that no
longer exist (Trojans, Spartans,
Celtics), and nicknames with local
significance (Corn Huskers, Steel-
ers, Saints). The one exception here
is the Fighting Irish, but that name
makes sense since, historically, many
Notre Dame players and followers
were actually Irish. Lumping Native
Americans into the pool of carica-
tures that make up sports mascots is
Getting rid of
offensive mascots
is simply practical. 0
Some may argue that Native Ameri-
can mascots are a sign of respect, as
they are supposed to be symbols of
bravery. But given this country's histo-
ry of Native American oppression and
the current tendency to ignore Native
American grievances, many don't see it
this way. To many Native Americans,
the mascots are simply insulting.
Breaking with tradition is never
easy. If the University of Michigan
had happened to adopt a Colonel Reb
or a Chief Illiniwek of the University
of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in
its early history, we would probably
be going through the same types of
controversies. But contrary to the
criticism, this is not a case of exces-
sive political correctness. Getting rid
of offensive sports mascots is practi-
cal and feasible, and it will have long-
term effects on our social values. It's
a case of PC gone right.
- Jeremy Levy can be reached
at jeremlev@umich.edu. *

Heed JFK's call 50 years later

A week ago today marks the 50th anniversary
of John F. Kennedy's historic call from the steps
of the Michigan Union for students to engage in
international service. Then-Senator Kennedy
(who was running for president) spoke in the wee
hours of Oct. 14, 1960 - 2 a.m. to be exact - in a
light rain before more than 5,000 students.
Appropriately, our university has been cel-
ebrating this speech for the past few weeks.
It culminated in a great speaker series on the
steps of the Union at 2 a.m. on Oct. 14. Individu-
als spoke about University students' role in the
creation of the Peace Corps and discussed how
far the organization has come since that fateful
day 50 years ago.
I was inspired. But after inspiration comes
meditation. I got to thinking, what exactly were
Kennedy's words? So I looked it up.
Kennedy said, "How many of you who are
going to be doctors are willing to spend your
days in Ghana? Technicians or engineers, how
many of you are willing to work in the Foreign
Service and spend your lives traveling around
the world?"
That was a call for a Peace Corps? That was
this "historic" moment in American history?
Those two sentences sent 200,000 Americans
abroad - including more than 2,300 University
alum - to work peacefully in developingnations?
And the simple answer is no.
My favorite speaker of the night was Dr. Alan
Guskin. As graduate students at Michigan in
1960, Al and his wife Judy took that simple call
for international service and gathered petitions,
organized conventions and encouraged Ken-
nedy to form the Peace Corps.
As we all know, it worked. The lesson I
learned is that students have an incredible
capacity to create. We are young and idealistic.
The world needs our energy and our idealism
to address the grim realities of our society.
The 1960s were notorious for students' role
in the civil rights and anti-war movements. But
today, more and more adults view students as
apathetic. We need to work together to change
that perception.
On this campus, there are hundreds of active
student organizations in all different shapes
and sizes doing great things. Thousands of
students take full advantage of these oppor-
tunities to participate in cultural, educational
or activist organizations. These people ensure
that year after year and generation after gener-
ation, a huge variety of campus organizations
remains vibrant and active.

But countless students choose not to immerse
themselves in the subculture of student organi-
zations. Many do not participate at all. Others
join simply to pad their resumes, never putting in
the necessary energy to create something great.
And these students don't know what they're
missing. I have found that the volunteer and
activist work I have done has been incredibly
enriching and rewarding.
I recognize that everyone on campus needs
to balance friends and family with reading and
tests. I recognize that many students need to
devote time and energy to holding down work-
study jobs simply to attend the University.
I even recognize that the countless student
groups on campus can be overwhelming.
But most people are only in college once.
After college we must focus on jobs and fami-
lies. This time, right now, is our one chance to
join the ranks of the Guskins and many other
student activists who helped shape the world
we live in today.
We need a shift in student mentality. Instead
of writing off activism due to time constraints,
we must make time to devote to others instead
of ourselves. President Barack Obama has
called on our country - and specifically the
younger generation - to serve a greater pur-
pose than oneself. We should all heed this call.
The world has changed since the student
activism of the '60s. Today's students have less
time and more to think about. Finding the right
balance between necessary academic pursuits
and volunteer student activism is a challenge.
So we need to adjust our definition of student
activists. Low-time commitment opportuni-
ties must become more popular. With more
than 26,000 undergrads and 15,000 graduate
students, the pool of students at the University
waiting to be activists is huge.
Students: Start small. Take time to find one
student organization devoted to helping the
community (local, national or global) through
volunteer work or activism and find out how to
become involved. Ask friends what they do if
you need ideas. Don't be overwhelmed - if an
hour is all you have time for, start with that.
Leaders: Be imaginative. Let's make sure we
have programs that provide opportunities for
all shapes and sizes of student involvement.
The movement for the Peace Corps started
with students on this campus. Only you know
what could be next. Let's create it together.
Yonah Lieberman is an LSA sophomore.

Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. Letters should be fewer
than 300 words and must include the writer's full name and University affiliation. All submissions become
property of the Daily. We do not print anonymous letters. Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu.
Fast track to economi~c recovery

n the early 1930s, our country
was in the midst of the Great
Depression, with thousands out
of work. In order to
bbost the economy
and help the work-
ing class, the U.S.
began multiple
ed work projects as
part of President
Franklin D. Roos-
evelt's New Deal,
like the Hoover JOE
Dam. The dam SUGIYAMA
helped to power
much of the South-
west and brought
thousands of jobs to suffering Ameri-
cans. Following the example set by
Roosevelt, the state of California is
currently working to implement a
high-speed railway system. It would
help to create jobs, re-energize the
economy and address our current
environmental anxieties.
Early in August, construction on
a $4.2-billion Transbay Transit Cen-
ter broke ground, becoming the first
step in a potential $53.1-billion project
connecting San Francisco, Los Ange-
les, Fresno and San Diego by way of
a high-speed rail. The transit center
alone will create 48,000 jobs in the
San Francisco area and will serve
more than 45 million passengers a
year. This will be the country's first
high-speed railway system. It seems
that we could soon join the fraternity
of countries that have already figured
out that effective public transporta-
tion is the way of the future.
Let me be clear that construction
of a high-speed railway in California
hasn't gotten the green light yet. The
Transbay Transit Center will operate
as a base for the bus and rail systems
already in place in San Francisco, but
it's also being designed to facilitate
high-speed railways. Late in Septem-
ber, the state of California was granted
$194 million to conduct preliminary
engineering and environmental analy-

sis for the project. This is an encour-
aging act of faith, demonstrating
confidence in the plausibility of the
high-speed railway.
The state of Michigan is working
on a similar project that would link
cities such as Grand Rapids, Detroit
and perhaps even Chicago with a
high-speed railway. Michigan isn't
as far along as California in terms
of development, but it's encouraging
to know that our state sees the same
potential in the technology.
Why it has taken the United States
so long to begin a project like this is
beyond me. After we pioneered our
way across the country with our first
transcontinental railway system, it
seemed that once the technology was
available, high-speed railways would
be the next logical step. Yet the word
"complacent" comes to mind - we
spent the entire 20th century relying
on cars and trucks and pumped bil-
lions of pounds of greenhouse gases
into the atmosphere.
If the California high-speed railway
is approved and constructionbegins, it
should be finished between 2020 and
2030. The cost-benefit analysis shows
that the railway should net about
$2.84 billion by 2050. In addition to
the fiscal advantages, the impact the
rail system would have on the environ-
ment is invaluable.
The California High-Speed Rail
Authority projects that a passenger
choosing the rail instead of an air-
plane or a car would use one-third and
one-tenth less energy, respectively.
This dip in energy usage amounts to
5.8 million barrels of oil per year by
2030. It would also expel about one-
tenth less pollutants and 6.8 billion
less pounds of carbon dioxide annual-
ly into the atmosphere. The CaHSRA
plans to achieve these projections with
a mixture of natural gas and renew-
able energy methods to power the
railways. They also have a 100-percent
renewable energy goal that would save
12.7 million barrels of oil annually and
prevent 12 billion pounds of carbon

dioxide from being released into the
atmosphere annually.
The railway also has a convenience
factor that shouldn't be ignored. It
would take a 6.5-hour car trip from
San Francisco to Los Angeles and turn
it into a 2.6-hour ride. Not only is train
travel faster than car travel, but with
so many people choosing to ride the
train, highway congestion would also
be reduced.
railways need more
This project would generate nearly
$2.6 billion in profits and thousands
of new jobs, not to mention shrink our
carbon footprint, implement renew-
able energy systems and reduce trav-
el time. Why haven't we done this
already? Apparently, because we live in
a country so reluctant to react to some-
thing so beneficial that opportunities
often pass us right by. For instance, a
1,000-megawatt Lake Michigan wind
farm was shot down by people more
concerned with their view of the lake
than future generations. The high-
speed railway could fall victim to simi-
lar scrutiny, but the multidimensional
nature of this green technology makes
it less susceptible to the same criticism
and more likelyto materialize.
If California gets it right and sets
the standard for public transpor-
tation, job creation and renewable
energy, it will be setting an example
for the rest of the country. A success-
ful implementation of this technolo-
gy in California could be the catalyst
Michigan needs to accelerate plans
for our own high-speed railway.
- Joe Sugiyama can be reached
at jmsugi@umich.edu.



Aida Ali, Jordan Birnholtz, Adrianna Bojrab, Will Butler, Eaghan Davis, Michelle DeWitt,
Ashley Griesshammer, Will Grundler, Jeremy Levy, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley,
Harsha Panduranga, Tommaso Pavone, Leah Potkin, Asa Smith, Laura Veith

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