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March 22, 2011 - Image 4

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4 -Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

e t i an at
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard Sc.
Ann Arbos, MI 48109



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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.
EPA must have power to limit carbon emissions
s it irony or just business as usual when a government
agency is prevented from performing the functions it
was established for? This is what might happen to the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A new bill, the Ener-
gy Tax Prevention Act, moving through Congress would keep
the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide emissions of power
plants and oil refineries. While the bill addresses some eco-
nomic concerns, if passed it would render the EPA almost
completely unable to monitor dangerous greenhouse gases.

A U.S. House committee passed a bill last
Tuesday to prevent the EPA from regulating
the amount of C02 produced by power plants
and oil refineries. The bill will now move to
the House, where it will likely pass.
Scientific data offered by the Carbon Diox-
ide Information Analysis Center, indicates
that atmospheric CO2 concentrations haven't
increased significantly in the 850 years pre-
ceding the Industrial Revolution. But since the
onset of the Industrial Revolution in 1850, CO2
concentrations increased by about 40 percent,
accordingto a Jan. 12 New York Times article.
Since this increase has been directly linked to
the environmental threat of global warming,
it's highly irrational to limit the powers of the
federal agency that's responsible for prevent-
ing a potential catastrophe.
Even worse, coal power plants supply
almost half the consumed electricity in the
U.S., and coal emits the highest CO2 concen-
trations of any known fuel. Essentially, the
House committee has decided to stick with
the status quo by keeping gas and electricity
cheap and precluding the EPA from taking
measures that would encourage the search for
affordable, alternative fuels. Climate models
show that the Earth's temperature could rise
as much as 11 degrees Fahrenheit by the end
of the 21st century. Clearly, this isn't a problem
that can be ignored, but that's precisely what

this bill intends to do.
. It's true that the rapidly rising costs of fuel
represent a profound economic problem. But
in this case, the livelihood of our entire planet
trumps short-term financial comfort. Our
country is responsible for 30 percent of green-
house gas emissions, and Americans have
greater emissions per capita than almost any
other nation. So far, our government has taken
swift steps to reverse global warming, and
companies like BP have responded positively.
In spite of their huge environmental disaster
with last summer's massive oil spill, BP has
invested in wind power, solar power and car-
bon capture interests. If the government sets a
precedent by protecting companies that cause
global warming, they'll discourage the initia-
tives by the companies that seek alternative
fuel sources.
Congressman Fred Upton (R-Mich.)
claims that the Energy Tax Prevention Act
he's sponsoring will rein in the federal gov-
ernment and ensure that the EPA doesn't
inhibit "free enterprise and personal 'lib-
erty." That seems to be a rather forgiving
description of energy industries whose prac-
tices have traded our health and safety for
financial interests for over a century. This
bill should be rejected by the House to indi-
cate Congress's commitment to environmen-
tal responsibility.

As the NBA season winds
down, sportswriters across
the country are trying to
figure out who
they want to
vote for as the
NBA's Most
Valuable Player.
If you ask any
basketball fan
aboutthis year's
MVP race, you DAR WEI
will probably CHEN
get a top-four
list like this (in
alphabetical order): Dwight Howard,
LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki and
Derrick Rose. The community is in
general agreement with the above
players. But once you ask people
about why they support a particular
MVP candidate, the question inevi-
tably comes up about what the mean-
ing of the award is. And there are as
many meanings as there are people
who want Republican Gov. Rick Sny-
der not to speak at commencement.
One of the common ways that peo-
ple like to define the MVP is by using
this question: "Which player, if sub-
tracted from his team, would cause
his team to suffer the most?" In other
words, who is the most valuable to
his team? This seems to be logical.
After all, the award has the phrase
"most valuable" in it. This year, if you
were to answer that question, the
player would probably be either Dirk
Nowitzki or Derrick Rose. For Now-
itzki,there is actually some empirical
data to base the answer off because
his Maneficks have stiribled to a 2-7
record )ngames where he is' Injured,
but are playing 47-14 (77 percent) ball
with him. His presence apparently
makes a huge difference. Rose is also
a possible answer, probably because

Voting Problem
he meets the proverbial "eye test." MVP voters. But statis
He creates countless open shots for offense-oriented beca
his teammates and scores at will - easier to quantify. LeB
especially with his improved three- is a very good defend
point shot. about Steve Nash - a t
But the above way of defining - who is not known fc
the MVP has a catch. If you take The NBA has an age-o
the phrase "most valuable" liter- "defensewins champio
ally, then the award should be avail- callythenshouldn'tth
able to players on teams with bad ers be the MVPs sine
records. A great player, if stuck with things that are most
bad teammates, will be assigned winning championshil
greater responsibilities every game ing to bet that if som
and therefore be more valuable to with anAll-OffensiveI
his team than a great player who has bear more resemblanc
good teammates and therefore less candidate list than the
responsibility. For example, Tracy Team does.
McGrady's Orlando Magic teams in
the early part of the decade would
have been atrocious without him.
However, an unwritten rule exists in MVP isn't,
the league that the MVP award must
go to a player on a 50-win team - it about bei
has never happened any other way.
The Magic never won 50 games and most valu
McGrady never got an MVP award,
even though he regularly performed
superhumanly for them.
Other people like to use a more If defense is weighed
basic question: "Who is the best play- in the voting, Dwight H
er this season?" This definition works run away with the MV
because the best player in the league sive Player of the Ye
should, theoretically, provide the been his for consecut
most "value" to any teamhe plays for. will be his for many ye
This year, and for many years past, he only seriously got in
the one player who could instantly cussion when his offen
make ateam into a contender is LeB- improved to elite status
ron James. And in the end, isn't this The MVP award
question the one people would rather vocative debate, and t
have answered, instead of the really debates make sports g:
abstract question posed earlier in the want to debate, we nee
column? LeBron is the NBA's best with comprehensive d
player, as evidenced by his all-around stick to them because t
statistical greatness and leagutelead- acies are at stake. Otb
ing Player Efficiency Rating. He also might mean Major Vot
aces the proverbial "eye test."
Well, LeBron certainly has the -Dar-Wei Chen
numbers to prove his case to the at chend

tics tend tobe
use offense is
ron, of course,
der, but think
wo-time MVP
or his defense.
Id mantra that
onships." Logi-
:e best defend-
e they do the
conducive to
ps? I am will-
eone came up
Team, itwould
e to the MVP
ng the
d more heavily
toward should
'P. The Defen-
ar award has
ive years and
ars. However,
the MVP dis-
sive game also
sparks pro-
hese kinds of
reat. But if we
ed to come up
efinitions and
basketball leg-:
hersise, MVP
ing Problems.
can be reached



The price of war

Aida Ali, Will Butler, Ellie Chessen, Michelle DeWitt, Ashley Griesshammer,
Melanie Kruvelis, Patrick Maillet, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley,
Harsha Panduranga, Teddy Papes, Asa Smith, Seth Soderborg, Andrew Weiner
'Empower' ealth care innovation

With the impending year-end withdrawal
of our remaining troops from Iraq, it seems to
be an appropriate time to discuss the excessive
nature of the United States's defense spending.
As of now, the U.S. spends about 10 times more
on its military than other leading countries in
terms of raw dollars - about $664 billion last
year - and is second only to the United Arab
Emirates in per capita defense spending at
$2,141 per citizen in 2009.
There are several reasons why such exorbi-
tant spending is unnecessary. For starters, the
U.S. - with a stockpile of 8,500 nuclear war-
heads as of 2010 - is well equipped to manage
any conceivable global cataclysm. The prin-
ciple of mutual assured destruction asserts
that the incidence of a nuclear war is highly
unlikely between countries with extensive
nuclear proliferation, so it goes without say-
ing that these countries are also unlikely to be
severely provoked by countries without weap-
ons of mass destruction caches.
Even in the absence of a nuclear attack, war
on a smaller scale is still a prevalent threat, but
recent wars have been anything but money
well spent. Our country's most expensive
military efforts in the past 40 years - the
Vietnam, Korean, Afghanistan and Iraq wars
- have been wasteful, imperialistic attempts
to force democracy on nations that the U.S.
doesn't depend heavily upon for economic
stability. In addition to causing thousands of
needless deaths, these wars have added to a
national debt that will exceed a staggering $15
trillion by the year's end.
The public's disapproval of these recent
U.S. military efforts necessitates a reevalua-
tion of our defense budget. Currently, much of
the budget is dedicated to "Overseas Contin-
gency Operations" - a diversionary term for
the War on Terror. In other words, it's squan-
dered to provide us with the illusion of safety
against a nameless, faceless enemy while our
government pursues long-term foreign policy
objectives which we aren't given adequate
information about.
But there's at least enough information
to show us how damaging these "Contin-
gency Operations" have been to our econ-
omy. According to the war budget clock on
costofwar.com, the Iraq and Afghanistan
wars alone have cost our nation more than
$1.1 trillion since 2001, and that's not even

counting the interest we owe on debts from
past wars.
We don't reserve wasteful spending solely
for wartime, either. Political theorists have
been debating our national obsession with a
"permanent war economy" since the end of
World War II. Essentially, the U.S. has main-
tained a high level of military spending in war
and peace because it benefits corporate inter-
ests and stimulates the economy. But couldn't
that money be used to fund jobs in govern-
ment sectors that don't promote death and
If the military budget is restructured to pre-
vent additional waste, it will free up funds for
plenty of other eligible initiatives. For exam-
ple, the expenses of Social Security, Medicare
and Medicaid are rapidly growing to manage
increasing numbers of elderly and other wel-
fare beneficiaries. Cutting the defense bud-
get could be a solution to this problem. Not
to mention, extra money might also be used
for improvements to national infrastructure,
environment friendly technologies and insti-
tutions of higher education.
And if military interests are still a compel-
ling concern, why not emphasize domestic
defense spending over the invasion and occu-
pation of foreign countries? It's much cheaper
to protect our interests at home than it is to
funnel money to a war effort on the other side
of the globe.
Yes, it's true that strategic imperialism and
military competition are sometimes neces-
sary as a preemptive defense measure, but not
always. This month, a report by The Guard-
ian indicated that the informant (code name
"Curveball"), whose WMD tips provided
much of the United States's justification for
the Iraq War, fabricated his claims. The inter-
view confirmed the longstanding suspicion
that the eight-year war was a needless waste
of manpower and public funds.
But instead of crying over spilt milk, the
politically active should force a debate to
encourage a significant reduction in military
spending. A frugal, prudent military bud-
get should replace our monolithic military-
industrial complex until a justifiable conflict
mandates added funding - extra emphasis on
Timothy Rabb is an LSA junior.

Attacks targeting the Democrats' health care law
passed last year have intensified as Republicans have
taken control of the United States House of Representa-
tives. A complete repeal - which failed in the Senate but
passed the House - was even attempted last month. To
make matters worse, conservative judges from Virginia
and Florida ruled the vital portion of the law mandat-
ing individuals to buy insurance unconstitutional, set-
ting the stage for a review of the law by an unpredictable
Supreme Court. It's clear the legislation is beingtargeted
from all angles.
But the "Empowering States to Innovate Act," which
was introduced Feb. s by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and is
officially backed by the Obama administration could help
preserve the reforms. The bill amends the healthcare law
by "accelerating State Innovation Waivers," which means
states may be granted exemptions from key provisions
of the bill - like the individual coverage mandate and
required establishment of health insurance exchanges
- beginning in 2014 rather than 2017. The catch is that
states will have to find alternative reforms that work just
as well. Accordingto a Feb. 28 White House press release,
proposals different from the law can be implemented as
long as they provide coverage that is "at least as compre-
hensive ... at least as affordable ... to at least as many resi-
dents" and don't increase the federal deficit. Maine has
already been granted a kind of waiver for one regulation,
but it's only a temporary exemption that addresses con-
cerns specific to the state's insurance market.
This is a brilliant political move by the Obama admin-
istration - it staves off some political opposition by
averting potential wider-ranging attacks aimed at the
structure ofthe law and sends the messagethat the White
House is willing to compromise. Not surprisingly then,
senators across the political spectrum have embraced
the waiver idea. Self-described Democratic Socialist Sen.
Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) - whose state is in the process
of attempting to institute a European style single-payer
system - originally inserted the provision into the leg-
islation. On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Scott Brown
(R-Mass.) - though he ran his election campaign on
blocking health reform - is a cosponsor of the proposal
to move the waiver date forward.
Setting aside the proposal's political appeal, moving
the state waiver eligibility date forward could expose
alternative and more efficient ideas to accomplish the
reform goals of the administration. The president has
even admitted the current reform package isn't perfect,
so allowing states some flexibility to implement their

own policy preferences would allow for comparisons of
efficacy between different methods. For example, if Ver-
mont puts single-payer into place, its outcomes could be
juxtaposed and contrasted with the individual mandate
and insurance exchange system called for under the fed-
eral reform. As a consequence, the health care debate will
become more substantive - governors are goingto have
to supporttheir criticism of the federal law by developing
innovative policies that satisfy tangible health care qual-
ity and affordability benchmarks.
It appears then, that Republicans shouldn't have
any trouble getting on board with this proposal - it's a
reasonable challenge that could reveal effective policy
solutions, both liberal and conservative, right? But The
Wall Street Journal expressed its doubts in a March 3
article. The paper labels reform goals - which include
universal coverage and affordability - as "liberal pri-
orities" that rule out "market oriented" reforms like
tax credits to purchase insurance and high deductible
or value-based plans. The WSJ contends that liberals
"think they havea monopoly on good ideas." So basical-
ly, the rebuttal is that near-universal coverage and the
administration's apparently unreasonable definition of
"affordability" - which is too lenient - aren't possible
through "market-based" solutions but will instead lead
to greater centralization.
As the criticism moves beyond policy solutions to
question the premises of health reform, it doesn't carry
the same robust public appeal that came with calls to
"repeal." Voters didn't take issue with the goals of health
reform - the bill was unpopular because it was falsely
tagged as a "government takeover of health care," not
because of its regulations banning discrimination with
respect to preexisting conditions and promises of greater,
more comprehensive coverage.
Though The Wall Street Journal's analysis seems more
like a rationalization for political criticism than anything
else, what if it's right that the paper's definition of "mar-
ket-based" reforms are impossible under the adminis-
tration's guidelines? Maybe, then, those policy solutions
aren't appropriate for what Americans want from their
health care system.
Health care reform is going to be an evolving process,
and if it's going to be a bipartisan effort, there has to be
some compromise. President Barack Obama at least one
Republican, Scott Brown, have made an effort to reach
across the aisle - it's time for others to join them.
Harsha Panduranga is a senior editorial page editor.




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