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October 28, 2010 - Image 4

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4A - Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Jfi id ligan 0aU''I
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu

The percentage of voters under
the age of 30 who cast ballots in
the November 2008 election.
-According to August 2009 figures from The Center for in r and nan*,
Research on Civic Learning and'Engagerhent.

6

JACOB SMILOVITZ
EDITOR IN CHIEF

RACHEL VAN GILDER
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR

MATT AARONSON
MANAGING EDITOR

Unsigned editorials reflectthe official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Yes on 1, no on 2
State needs ConCon, voters need freedom
allot proposals can lead to big change and Michigan resi-
dents have seen firsthand the difference they can make
- both positive and negative. This year's proposals aren't
quite as divisive as hot-button issues like same-sex marriage, affir-
mative action and medical marijuana, but they could still have a
noticeable effect on the state's government. This election cycle, the
there are two ballot proposals being considered statewide. Proposal
1 asks voters if Michigan should hold a constitutional convention.
Proposal 2 would create a constitutional amendment forbidding
people convicted of a violation of public trust from holding public
office. Students should head to the polls to cast their vote on Michi-
gan's ballot initiatives.

Don't ear oreign trade

hings have gotten so bad for
Democrats this election cycle
that President Barack Obama
is picking fights
and swinging at the
air. Desperate to
resist an onslaught
of Republican vic-
tories next week,
Democrats are pull-
ing out the "fear of
foreigners" card,
criticizing trade
policies and lobby- ALEX
ing for protectionist BILES
measures in hopes
of salvaging the
upcoming elections.
Disdain for foreigners or things
non-American bares its ugly face in
cycles. Republican politicians and
their supporters have had a tendency
to scapegoat foreigners to capital-
ize on the fears of Americans. But
recently, Democratic candidates have
also utilized race-baiting while attack-
ing trade with China in a last-ditch
attempt to appeal to working-class
voters. Take Mark Schauer (D-Mich.),
who has run advertisements criticizing
what he calls unfair trade with foreign
countries. In one segment, Schauer is
pictured speaking with homogenous
groups of middle-aged, working-class
white people. In the ad, he explicitly
attacks trade with China not once, but
twice. He emphasizes hi' position by
highlighting the words "pgainst" and
"jobs in China" inbold yellow.
Citing the trade deficit, Congressio-
nal Democrats have pushed for tariffs
and import restrictions on Chinese
goods. Apparently, they learned noth-
ing from the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff
Act, which raised tariffs on more than
20,000 imported goods and is widely
considered one of the worst economic
decisions in American history.
Take for example, Richard Trumka,
head of the AFL-CIO - the nation's
largest labor union and a major finan-
cier of the Democratic Party - who
invoked notions of a "trade war with
China" in a Sept. 30 USA Today article.
Trumka calls for the U.S. to forcefully
stop the Chinese from manipulat-

ing their currency's value. These calls
haven't rang hollow. Democrats have
recently introduced numerous pieces
of trade-restricting legislation, and
on Sept. 28, a New York Times article
by Yale University economist Stephen
Roach stated that Obama is "prepared
to take forceful actions if China doesn't
budge" on the issue of its currency
manipulation and the trade deficit.
There's a fundamental misconcep-
tion that a trade deficit is bad. The
trade deficit is the difference between
the value of imports and exports
betweeneconomies. Some worry about
our annual trade deficit to China,
which reached $226 billion in 2009,
but they're incorrect in thinking that's
a bad thing. A trade deficit with China
means that the value of Chinese goods
that we're purchasing is greater than
the value of American goods pur-
chased by the Chinese.
We can illustrate that concerns
over mass importation of Chinese
goods are irrational by utilizing the
trade relationship between you (an
average consumer) and Meijer as
an example. Assume you regularly
shop at Meijer, importing goods sold
by the store into your home. Meijer
has likely never purchased anything
from you. From your perspective, the
trade deficit between you and Meijer
is enormous. But this trade deficit has
never harmed you. On the contrary,
Meijer's specialization provides easy
access to goods that would other-
wise take a great deal of effort and
resources to acquire. The accessibili-
ty, affordability and efficiency are the
same reasons for trading with China.
Both parties benefit.
The Obama administration and
Congressional Democrats want to
forcefully stop China from manipu-
lating its currency to export goods
at affordable prices. But as Roach
points out, "forcing such a currency
realignment would be a blunder of
historic proportions." Advocates of
trade restrictions claim they want
the pie sliced equally between the
United States and China, but these
threats only amount to higher prices
for American consumers as a result of

tariffs and protection from competi-
tion for politically-connected Ameri-
can manufacturers. Not surprisingly,
beneficiaries include labor unions
and special interests that provide
millions to the Democratic Party.

The trade
deficit with
China is good.

0'

Ballot initiatives are an inherently
flawed phenomenon. Inevitably, they
lead to poorly-worded and inadequately
thought-out legislation. Case in point: the
ballot proposal that in 2008 legalized med-
ical marijuana in the state. Though medi-
cal marijuana is a valuable treatment for
many, the ballot proposal led to a law that's
unclear, in some ways contradictory and
overall ineffective. And other ballot initia-
tives simply reflect people's reactionary
bias that damages important civil liber-
ties. For example, Michigan's 2004 ban on
same-sex marriage. Ballot proposals more
often reflect partisanship and a mob men-
tality than thoughtful discussion. It's the
purpose of the legislature to create useful,
clear legislation that reflects the desires of
legislators' constituencies.
But, despite their inherent flaws, ballot
proposals exist and voters must make a
decision.
roposal 1 offers voters the option to
hold a constitutional convention.
According to the current constitu-
tion, this proposal must be presented to
voters every 16 years. A constitutional con-
vention would call for delegates to revise
the state constitution, which will then be
approved or rejected by voters. Michigan's
last constitutional convention took place
from 1961 to 1962, and we are long over-
due for a revision. Voters should vote yes
for Proposal 1 in November to modify the
Michigan Constitution.
It's been a longtime since Michigan took a
comprehensive look at its constitution. This
isn't the same state it was 50 years ago -
the economy and the fall of the automotive
industry is proof of that. A new constitution
could reflect the needs of today's economy
and help define the state's future.
one of the concerns about holding a
constitutional convention is the expenses
involved. That's a valid worry considering
Michigan's already-strained budget. But the
convention could also raise money for the
state if it revamps the tax system. Michi-
gan's current flat income tax is disturbingly
behind the times. A new, graduated income
tax could be included in the revisions and
would help increase state revenue.
And the convention could clear the
constitution of amendments that limit the
civil liberties of Michigan's citizens - spe-
cifically, the ban on same-sex marriage. A
constitutional convention could reverse
this policy completely and finally allow
members of the LGBT community the
equality they deserve.

But it's crucial that the constitution
isn't modified in any way that threatens
the autonomy of the University or its state
funding. The freedom that the University
enjoys has led - and will lead - to valuable
research that will bring jobs to the state and
revitalize the economy. And keeping this
research and education accessible requires
adequate state support. If there is a consti-
tutional convention, delegates must respect
the University's value to the state.
Though these concerns are important to
keep in mind, the constitutional conven-
tion would ultimately benefit our state. To
give Michigan's constitution the update it
needs, vote YES on Proposal 1.
he other ballot initiative, Proposal 2,
is worrisome. The initiative would
amend the state constitution so that
any person convicted of a felony involving
betrayal of public trust would be ineligible
for election to public office for 20 years.
The proposal attempts to curb corrup-
tion, following several instances of decep-
tion and fraud in Detroit, including the
scandal around former Mayor Kwame Kil-
patrick and city council member Monica
Conyers. But this very visceral reaction
to Detroit's corruption doesn't give voters
the credit they deserve and discriminates
against people who have already paid for
their crimes.
The proposal's aim is a little too
Orwellian. Michigan voters should have
the freedom to vote for whomever they
like, regardless of the candidate's past.
The proposal seems to assume that voters
aren't capable of deciding for themselves
which candidates are acceptable. It's a bit
insulting to the public's intelligence. But
voters can - and should be able to - decide
which candidates they can trust and which
are most appropriate for a position.
In addition to limiting voter freedom,
the proposal also seems to ignore one of the
central philosophies of the judicial system.
The idea of the judicial system should be to
help reform and reintegrate back into society
those who have broken the law. The stipula-
tion that a felon should be ineligible for pub-
lic office up to 20 years after their conviction
throws the concept of moral reformation out
the window. In our society, those who have
paid their debt to society following a convic-
tion deserve the benefit of the doubt.
Ultimately, the citizens of the state of
Michigan shouldn't need a law to tell them
which candidates they can vote for. Pro-
posal 2, though it aims to solve corruption,
is misguided. Vote NO on Proposal 2.

But focus on trade relations with for-
eigners isn't limited to thectrade deficit.
Recently, Obama carelessly attacked
the U.S. Chamber of Commerce - a
lobbying organization that supports
free trade. Obama and establishment
Democrats accused the group of uti-
lizing foreign contributions to support
candidates inthe United States, despite
no evidence to back up their claims, as
Time magazine reported on Oct.14.
And in an embarrassing 'blunder
for the party, the Center for Respon-
sive Politics revealed on Oct. 17 that
Democrats have taken $1.02 million
this election cycle from foreign-af'll *
iated Political Action Committees
twice as much as Republicans. Tb
Obama administration isn't ha #
enough with its role in reducing
freedom of individuals to lobby p6l"
ticians. They want to be hypocrit6
while they're atit.
If the Obama administration a
Congressional Democrats were
enact trade restrictions or forcef,04
inflate the value of China's currene*,
it would be devastating to our econo-
my and a blow to maintaining peace-
ful relations with China. But when
they're hypocrites using manufactured
information in a backfiring smear
campaign, their desperate attempts to
mitigate. November losses with politi-
cal demagoguery are as clear as a slibH
of Chinese-imported glass.
- Alex Biles can be reachiedI
at jabiles@umich.enf.,

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
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.
Embra ce your awkwardness

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
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
ROSE JAFFE E-MAIL ROSE X ROSEJAFF aUMiCH.EDU

was a pretty awkward kid. Now,
I realize you could say that all
kids are awkward - and you
may even have a
point - childhood
is hardly anyone's
prime. But if you'd
seen me in elemen-
tary school, my
inelegance might
have surprised
you. In my earlyL
years, I was short
and overweight. MATTHEW
I hadn't been for- GREEN
mally introduced
to deodorant,
which was a prob-
lem because I sweated a lot. That's
not to say I played sports or partici-
pated vigorously in gym class. I just
sweated a lot. In spite of this image,
though, I was somehow spirited
enough to pursue the same girl tire-
lessly, if unsuccessfully, from the
fourth grade through the seventh..
My failure at courtship was best
summarized in my own words, from
a diary entry dated February 10, 2001:
"***** will never love me. I:NEVER say
the right thing! Ugg. I guess it's just
because I'm fat, smelly, gross and Jew-
ish." In hindsight, Jewishness prob-
ably had nothing to do with it, but it's a
common enough scapegoat, I suppose.
This first diary entry directly precedes
another passage in which I described
ripping my pants while bendingtover to
pickup apencilthats*****had dropped.
This "phase," as my mother liked to
call it, never really ended. Upon going
through puberty (late, of course),
I grew about a foot in just a couple
months. Hastily getting used to my
taller stature, I routinely tripped and
fell wherever I went. And, for what-
ever reason, I never really regained
my balance.

One day in the first few weeks of
my freshman year, this gracelessness
came to the fore. As I quickly strode
through the Diag that day, I looked
around to gain a further grasp of my
new surroundings. Then, before I real-
ized what was happening, I tripped on
something oddly cumbersome coming
toward me and fell flat on the ground.
I was instantly met by the sounds of a
baby crying and the shrieks of a moth-
er in panic. It didn't take long for me
to realize: I had tripped on an oncom-
ing stroller. Fortunately, the confused
infant was totally unharmed and his
mother, rather than filing a lawsuit,
just bitterly asked if I were high.
To this day, clumsiness continues
to pervade my life. I still trip all the
time and I still never say the right
thing. And if you ever have the rare
opportunity to see me dance, my
inability tobe cool even on the dance
floor will simultaneously amuse,
bewilder and disturb you.
So, since awkwardness has defined
so much of my life, I've recently
decided that I ought to embrace it.
I just have to try to find the beauty
within my ungainliness. It's got to
be there somewhere. I've meditated
on the words of Diane Arbus, the
photographer known for shooting
evocative photos of unusual sub-
jects in the 1960s. "I work from awk-
wardness," she famously said. "If I
stand in front of something, instead
of arranging it, I arrange myself."
Though awkwardness, in this case,
is the point of departure for Arbus' s
art, it may as well be the springboard
for approaching my own life. Rather
than attempting to be less awkward
as I go forward and "arrange" myself,
perhaps I really do just need to appre-
ciate the blunders and gaucherie that
are omnipresent in my life.
While I realize that I'm a sort of

caricature of clumsiness, this lessot
is relevant for a great many withjin,
our campus community. And it isp't
just a banal "love who you are" sort of.
lesson from a children's book.
Appreciate -
the blunders
and gaucherie.
Virtually all of us at the Univer-
sity are anxious about our individ'ua
appearance in some way. Perhhpt
it's important to you to confidently
walk down the street, to wear a per-
fectly neat outfit and be charming ti,
the friends and acquaintances you
bump into. But inevitably, you know
you're going to miss a social cue, or
make a fashion faux pas. Or maybe
you obsess about having the perfect
portfolio, with the perfect intervi4
skills to match. But no matter how
many times you rehearse in front 'sf
a mirror, your interview won't always
go as planned. Awkwardness is more
or less inevitable. So why not embrace
said awkwardness? Perhaps doing
so could make you stand out - to
friends, love interests or employers.
That's what I tell myself, at least.
And it hasn't led to more tripping or
accidentally spraying water on SAyl
crotch when I wash my hands. Those
gaffes are as frequent as they always-
were. But as I accept my awkward,-,
ness, I'm much more content in my,
day-to-day life - even if I still fear,
strollers in the Diag.
- Matthew Green can be react e'
at greenmatt@umich.edd.

Io4C-- O orvlourhand will. look- tike 4+Uies.

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