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April 11, 2011 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-04-11

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4A - Monday, April 11, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4A - Monday, April 11, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

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

Isn't that

Only if you
have a backbone.
Ew m




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.
Crisis (barely) averted
Congress needs to start compromising
The Smithsonian Institution, National Zoo and national parks
across the country remained open for business Saturday
morning, but this was aliost not the case. Late Friday night,
Congress finally reached a compromise that prevented a federal gov-
ernment shutdown. But Americans should not thank Congress for
finally doing in the eleventh hour what it should have done days, if
not months, ago. While we appreciate Congress getting its act togeth-
er, it should have done so before 11 p.m. on Friday night. This goes to
show how unbearable the partisan politics of Washington D.C. have
become. The partisan divide is tearing apart the nation and making it
impossible to govern efficiently. Congress, please stop playing games,
and go back to doing your job.

The listening b

J n a tough estimate that
includes all my writing for
the arts and opinion sections
of The Michi-

gan Daily, I have
written approxi-
mately 330,000
words for this
paper - the
length of three-
and-a-half aver-
age novels. That
is a whole lot of
words. In fact,
it's too many. No
one who talks


Friday night, as a government shutdown
loomed near, House Speaker John Boehner
(R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry
Reid (D-Nev.) and President Barack Obama
finally struck a deal. The compromise that
was reached cut $38 billion in governmental
spending.Accordingto anApril10 Bloomberg
article, Democrats were initially sticking to
$33 billion in cuts, but on Friday afternoon,
Obama raised this number and agreedto $38
billion. Republicans were asking for more
than $40 billion, and the lingering issue was
the Planned Parenthood funding ban. Obama
and the Democrats refused to cut any spend-
ing from family planning services. The long-
term Republican budget plan proposes $4
trillion in cuts and will be the issue of debate
in the upcoming weeks.
The good news is that the U.S. finally has
a budget - in the short term at least. The bad
news is that the country was one-and-a-half
hours away from a total shutdown. This is
unacceptable. At 10:30 p.m. Congress still
hadn't reached a consensus, and Americans
across the nation were uncertain if their
paychecks, tax returns and pension ben-
efits would be delayed. Congress works for
and represents the people: It does not exist
to increase their burdens. There's no reason

that this compromise had to come so late.
Congress should have and could have acted
Much of the resistance came as a result of
the Tea Party's influence. While it is under-
standable that the Tea Party is obligated to
fight for the policies it was elected on, it is
unreasonable for members to do so without
compromise. The Republican Party is being
pushed further to the political Right by the
Tea Party, and this is affecting its ability to
negotiate and compromise. The Tea Party
needs to understand the limits on its man-
date and should stop asking for irrational
one-sided policies. Republicans need to take
a much stronger stance against this extreme
movement and reclaim their authority.
Most importantly, the budget ordeal
revealed how ugly partisan politics on Capi-
tol Hill have become. Americans are already
frustrated with the petty party battles being
fought in Washington D.C., and this budget
crisis did nothing to ease these frustrations.
Instead of showing leadership when it was
most necessary, our representatives in Wash-
ington were busy disagreeing over personal
agendas. Congress needs to get its act togeth-
er to have deliberative discussions and nego-
tiate policy compromises.

that much could possibly listen
enough. So, I guess it's good that
this is my last column. After this I
can finally shut up and listen.
I began as a freshman at the Uni-
versity in the fall of 2004. In my
seven years as a student here, I wit-
nessed the nationwide expansion of
Facebook, release of YouTube and
Gmail, the launch of Android and
the iPhone and the explosion of blog-
ging and texting.
In terms of expanding the voice of
humanity to encompass more fully
the everyday, average person, these
have been perhaps the most eventful
seven years in history. Time maga-
zine (somewhat belatedly) recog-
nized the momentous shift that had
begun in naming "You" the Person
of the Year for 2006: Everyone can
now have a say; the field is more level
than it has ever been in history.
And we certainly have taken
advantage of this information revo-
lution. Count how many friends you
have that tweet, blog or vlog (video
blog, for you social technology phi-
listines). If that number is anything
greater than zero, then congratula-
tions: You have powerful friends

who can and have changed social
and political discourse by speaking
what theysee and hear about in plat-
forms that enable immediate world-
wide dissemination.
In the time I've been writing 750-
word columns for this page, count-
less people have made their voices
heard globally in tweets and blog
posts just a few words long. The
beauty of this, the ultimate infor-
mation age, is that we need not even
write a word to direct countless
national and international conver-
sations - a photo on Flickr show-
ing Michael Phelps with a bong or
a video on YouTube catching Sen-
ate candidate George Allen using a
racial slur are definitely worth more
than all my 330,000 words.
As I write now from this offi-
cial platform for the last time, I am
pleased to underscore that one does
not need to have a newspaper col-
umn to be heard. However, I'd like
to point out that listening is a very
important second component of infi-
nite information dissemination in
this amazing new world that goes
easily ignored. We are all better able
to propagate our own opinions, but
what good is that if no one chooses
to listen to what is being said?
We are all focused on getting
our own voices out there. Campus
activist groups, and indeed political
groups across the country, feel the
need to take a stand on every issue
and then let their voice be heard.
Such political speech is their eternal
right, and it has recently become a
right easily exercised via the Inter-
net. And random individuals, sud-
denly finding it so easy to blog or
tweet, also feel the need to speak out
(UCLA student Alexandra Wallace,
for example). All of us can and do

speak more these days, but the trag-
edy is thatthere just isn't enough lis-
As a columnist for so many years,
I suppose I am guilty of speak-
ing too much and not listening
enough. I learned the hard way
that one need not always have an
opinion and be outspoken about
it: It is sometimes better to listen,
understand and move on without
an uttered word. In a culture that
prizes opinionated rants as brave
spurts of the democratic ideal, it is
important to point out that recent-
ly, we've all been doing a little too
much talking. There simply has not
been enough listening, thinking
and reflecting.
My speaking stint
on this page has
come to an end.
With these last words, my speak-
ing stint on this page finally comes
to an end, and I move happily into
the other, equally important stage
of intelligent discourse: listening.
Much will be said about issues I
think I understand on this page and
the hundreds of others like it across
America. Like all of you, Iwill listen,
question, support and act.
But just in case I get antsy, I did
sign up for a Twitter account the
other day. It's the next big thing, I
-lmran Sped canbe reached
at galad@umich.edu.

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

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Republicans don't want to govern

Chen is deeply misinformed
on the subject of religion
I was deeply disturbed and offended by the
methods and language used by Dar-Wei Chen
in his article last week (Religion is becoming
extinct, 04/05/2011). He obviously is gravely
misinformed on the subject of religion, only
taking the negative bits and pieces highlighted
by today's media. I was so distraught that I
wasn't sure where to begin, so I will just jump
right in.
First off, stories in the beginning of the Old
Testament, such as the creation story, Noah's
Ark and Jonah and the Whale, serve to teach
us about faith and love and devotion to God.
The Catholic Church doesn't hold these sto-
ries to be historical fact. However, every-
thing in the Bible is to be taken seriously,
whether as historical fact (Israelite history
in the Old Testament and Christian history in
the New Testament), allegory (Creation), or
symbolism (Noah's Ark). All of the Bible has
something to offer. And most of the history
in the Bible is evidenced in texts and histori-
cal records of other societies. So to say that
new religions like Scientology are as wacky
as Christianity, which has a 2,000-year-old
history and 4,000 years of foundation before
that, is completely ignorant.
I also take offense to Chen's claim that reli-
gion hasn't been good for the world. There are
countless churches, synagogues, mosques and
religious centers around the world that do an
immeasurable number of good deeds - not to
mention all the homeless shelters, charities
and volunteer organizations around the world
with religious roots and backing. There are
many examples of this at several places of wor-
ship around campus. That's not to say religion

hasn't been used as an excuse for violence. It
most certainly has since the beginning of time,
but to base one's view of a group on the actions
of a few radicals is incredibly unfair and irra-
tional. The bottom line is religious groups are
run by humans, and humans are inherently
imperfect and bound to make mistakes. But
religion is always there to set us straight. I
agree that mankind can be secularly charita-
ble, but it's a bold statement to say that we can
do charitable works from the goodness of our
own hearts and not because of a higher power.
That's an ideal secular world that's practi-
cally impossible. If there's no higher power
to answer to, what's the point of being a good
person? Why wouldn't you do everything for
your own benefit and to pleasure your own life
as much as possible?
As a devout and practicing Catholic, I'm not
100 percent certain that my God is the right
one. I will even admit that my church hasn't
been anywhere close to perfect throughout
history. But I will also say that the Catholic
Church is a leader in the promotion of social
justice and human dignity (just read the papal
encyclicals Gaudium et Spes and Humanae
Vitae). I would argue that religion is needed
now more than ever to keep us in check in
light of advancement of technology. We need
to be careful where we tread our feet so that
we don't start losing respect for ourselves and
each other.
I can honestly say that instances where I
have done "works of God" have been some of
the most satisfying times in my life, from a
mission trip to Juarez, Mexico to the annu-
al Thanksgiving drive back home in New
Orleans. And as long as I'm here, I will say
with confidence that my religion won't be
going extinct anytime soon.
Christopher Johnson
College ofEngineering senior

Aren't we a lucky bunch? We just missed the chance
to find out what it's like to live without a government.
The federal government nearly closed last week. A zero-
hour deal between President Barack Obama and House
Republicans spared the country the sight of a shuttered
Capitol, closed national parks and an end to trash pick-
up in the District of Columbia. How did things get to
this point?
House Republicans seem to be refusing to govern.
It's the House's responsibility to draft budgetary leg-
islation. Since Republicans took over at the beginning
of this year, they've drafted outlandish budgets that
cut programs like the Nutrition Assistance Program
for Women, Infants and Children while reducing taxes
on the rich. Obama has made it clear that he wouldn't
accept cuts that imposed harsh burdens on the needi-
est Americans. Democrats in the Senate said "no" to
this Republican budget. Rejection should have forced
Republicans to make a more moderate proposalThis is
how divided government normally works.
After the proposed budget returned to the-House,
a group of ideologues - mostly freshmen lawmakers
elected on a Tea Party platform - hijacked the process.
They demanded that the proposed budget cuts be dou-
bled - even though Senate Democrats had made it clear
that they would not accept the original cuts.
When the budget doesn't pass before the fiscal year
has begun, the government shuts down. This happened
for a few hours in Michigan in 2007. It also happened in
1995, when former President Bill Clinton vetoed a bud-
get approved by a newly-Republican Congress. Today's
Republican leaders knew that the last government shut-
down hurt their party, and they didn't want one to hap-
pen again. So, for months, they have kept the federal
government going by passing "continuing resolutions"
that fund the government for a few weeks at a time. The
last resolution expired on Friday.
This time, lawmakers barely reached a deal to con-
tinue funding the government. Democrats offered last
week to cut $33 billion out of the budget - an amount of
money equal to what House Speaker John Boehner (R-
Ohio) first said he wanted to cut. Because the budget has
been so delayed, cutting $33 billion is actually cutting

six month of spending. Cutting $1 from the budget in
April 2011 has the same impact on government services
as cutting $2 in October 2010 would have had over the
course of the full fiscal year.
The final deal cut $38 billion. This is the largest dis-
cretionary spending reduction in U.S. history. Getting a
budget passed was an accomplishment, but it shouldn't
have happened like this. Instead of a rational debate
with all options on the table, Republicans proposed
purely partisan cuts knowing that Democrats would
refuse to budge on most of them.
The lion's share of the deficit comes from obligations
like Social Security and Medicare, which must be fully
funded each year. Most of the budget fighting has been
about smaller programs that the government can choose
to fund from year to year. A better Republican leader-
ship would work with Democrats to solve the problems
caused by long-term obligations. Choosing to fight so
bitterly over six months of spending makes it impossible
for lawmakers to address greater structural costs. The
last serious attempt to restructure one of these major
expenses was the health care bill, which Republicans
opposed as if their congressional seats depended on
campaign contributions from insurance companies.
When a company spends more than it has, it looks for
ways to make more money. It also cuts costs. Income
taxes today are as low as they have been in decades. We
saw economic growth under Clinton, when taxes were
higher, just as we saw economic growth under almost
every president before former President George W.
Bush who cut taxes dramatically. Today's Republicans
aren't fiscally responsible, they're just anti-tax. Former
Presidents George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan both
chose to raise taxes to pay for their spending. In that
respect, they understood fiscal responsibility far better
than their successors.
If the Republicans were serious about fixing spend-
ing, they would consider tax raises. They would try to
reform Social Security. They would have supported
health care reform. Instead, they're fighting tooth and
nail to protect the rich and abandon the poor.
Seth Soderborg is an LSA junior.

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