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September 15, 2011 - Image 4

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4A - Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4A - Thursday, September iS, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

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

It's like staying in a hotel."
- Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said of
the prison conditions in which two American hikers accused of
espionage have been held, according to a Sept. 14 New York Times article.

STEPHANIE STEINBERG
EDITOR IN CHIEF

MICHELLE DEWITT
and EMILY ORLEY
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS

NICK SPAR
MANAGING 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.
A temporary fix
Chrysler's two-tier payment isn't sustainable
he American auto industry's recovery has been placed in the
hands of its workers. In a move to stimulate the automotive
job market, Chrysler recently announced it would imple-
ment a two-tier wage system for its employees. The newest workers
will earn $14 per hour, and longtime employees will continue to
earn nearly double that amount. Union leaders have embraced the
change that will increase new hires and ensure job security for cur-
rent employees. Though the decision will boost Detroit's economy
in the immediate future, a two-tier wage system for employees who
do the same work is not a sustainable plan in the long run.

The real Ann Arbor

9

In a move to cut labor costs, Chrysler
believes paying new hires a flat rate will make
the company more competitive. For years,
members of the United Automobile Work-
ers have remained steadfast in their belief in
equal pay regardless of seniority. Due to the
slowed economy and high unemployment
rate, the U.A.W has made numerous conces-
sions to ensure the solvency of automakers
and job security for its employees. In a state-
ment to The New York Times on Sept. 12,
Chrysler states there have been no changes in
the quality of cars coming off the line despite
the pay disparity.
The move is a simple solution to a vast eco-
nomic problem. The American auto indus-
try has been on the decline since the influx
of foreign automakers in the United States.
Three years ago, the question of solvency was
answered: A government-backed bailout for
two of the "Big Three." With the bailout came
a slow and steady recoveryandthe proverbial
rebirth of the American automaker. Prior to
the economic crisis, the U.A.W. was opposed
to its members receiving different pay for the
same work. Yet, due to the unemployment cri-
sis,theunionhasdone whatisbestforitswork-
ers and has found new avenues to employment.
The U.A.W. understands that any employment

is better than no employment.
Though Chrysler's decision to hire more
employees through its new wage system will
help in the short term, it's not sustainable
in the future. About 12 percent of Chrysler
employees earn the lower wage, but the num-
ber of employees hired under the lower-tier
wage system is expected to increase dramati-
cally in the coming years. The U.A.W. Presi-
dent, Bob King, said that an increase in the
entry-level wages is a top priority in nego-
tiations for a new national contract. Chrys-
ler is putting people to work now, but when
the economy recovers, it can no longer take
advantage of the unemployment rate.
The two-tier wage system should not
become the norm. Chrysler and the U.A.W.
must create a long-term plan for integration
of the wage classes. While the new plan is
acceptable during a time when the economy
is faltering, a two-tier wage system promotes
inequality, and inequality cannot be a long-
term business practice.
Chrysler's two-tier wage system will allow
the company to become more competitive and
ensure paychecks for thousands of Americans.
Once the company is on solid footing, it should
reinstate normal pay disbursements and put
employee compensation on an even footing.

Have you been tempted to
make AnnArbor your
refuge from the rest of
the world? I know Ihave. They say
this is 28 square
miles sur-
rounded by real-
ity. The shock
attached to the -
crimes around ,
campus this
year - shocking
as they are - is JOEL
itself a measure
of the comfort BATTEM
we usually keep.
Yet you don't
have to go far away to get schooled
in the tough times we're inhabiting.
A 20-minute drive from campus
will getyouto the Willow Run plant,
a sprawling property just north of
1-94. This factory, which Henry
Ford constructed to build bombers
for World War II, was once the larg-
est single room on our planet. After
the war, it served General Motors for
more than 50 years. It's been empty
since the company went bankrupt.
In the adjoining school district, Wil-
low Run Community Schools, three-
quarters of the students qualify for
free and reduced-price lunches.
Along the Huron River, about
eight miles from The Rock, you can
walk through an isolated south-
ern section of Ypsilanti's Riverside
Park where field lights tower over a
meadow that is beginning to sprout
small trees. Not too long ago, this
was a baseball diamond. However,
the city ran out of money to operate
its recreation department in 2003.
The path along the river is lined
with toppled lamp posts.
At the edge of Ann Arbor, in a

wooded area at the crux of I-94 and
M-14,you'll findCampTakeNotice,a
homeless community where dozens
of people live in tents year-round.
The downtown homeless shelter has
only enough beds for a fraction of
the people who need them, and the
camp's residents find value in taking
governance into their own hands.
The camp isn't as big as those that
sprung up around the country dur-
ing the Great Depression, but it's a
reminder of the difficult conditions
swirling around the outskirts of our
little oasis of learning.
Much of life here can seem
removed from the storm and stress
of a troubled world. In the blur of
libraries, cafes, classrooms and
rental units many of us inhabit,
"reality" often feels like something
alien. Lying on Ingalls Mall, I can
stare up into the sky and imagine
that the whole universe is a kind of
garden, where the grass is always
manicured to perfection and the
only moral dilemma is whether or
not one should feed the squirrels.
Yet even here in the city, amid the
$12 sandwiches and sparkling new
collegiate towers, you can find hints
of a less rosy reality. Privileged spac-
es don't maintain themselves, after
all. I think of the makeshift bed I saw
once in the basement of a restaurant a
few steps from the Diag and the small
army of custodial staff wiping down
classrooms where they've never sat.
Ann Arbor natives haven't all
been equally privileged either,
despite the stereotype and the
steady work of gentrification. On
the corner of Fourth Avenue and
Ann Street you'll find a historical
marker commemorating the time
when the block was home to Ann

Arbor's African American business
district - back when an unwrit-
ten code barred blacks from living
south of Miller Road. Now that the
tanneries and slaughterhouses are
gone, most of the cheap real estate
that remains lies at the city's edge,
especially toward the east. Despite
the two Whole Foods we have, the
city isn't an undifferentiated island
of affluence, at least not yet.
Harsh conditions
surround our
campus oasis.

That brings me back to the old
saying. There sure is a lot of money
within these 28 square miles, and
some distinctive cultural norms. But
the truth is there's only one reality
out there, and Ann Arbor is part of
it. By perceiving this town, and our-
selves, as wholly insulated from the
whirlwind of the world beyond, we
obscure the fact that we're all part of
one phenomenon, and that austerity
and abundance are arelationship, not
independent conditions.
As students, we're presumably
here to learn something aboutwhat's
real, which can be a scary enterprise
and one that motivates us to seek
refuge from the forces shaping our
world in an imagined sort of Swit-
zerland. But the first step to the real
might be seeing that we're already
part of it, whether we like it or not.
- Joel Batterman can be
reached at jomba@umich.edu.

0

TIM RABB |
Too little, too late?

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Michelle DeWitt, Ashley Griesshammer, Patrick Maillet,
Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley,
Teddy Papes, Timothy Rabb, Seth Soderborg, Andrew Weiner

It was over two centuries ago - at the
threshold of the First Industrial Revolution -
that demographer Thomas Malthus augured
the dire consequences of unchecked population
growth. His initial worry was that the number
of people in developed countries would even-
tually exceed the countries' agricultural means
and force a regression to subsistence living.
This tipping point, dubbed a "Malthusian
catastrophe" by modern demographers, would
supplant our cars with horses and our super-
markets with backyard farms. Though new
technologies have allowed food production to
keep up with population growth, Malthus's old
model has been adapted to fit new scenarios,
most notably the rate of oil production. Even
some of the more optimistic estimates warn
that global oil production will peak within
the next 10 years. Couple this startling time-
frame with the fact that the world's population
growth rate won't stabilize until 2050 and will
later peak at 9 billion people, and it's hard not
to wonder whether our beloved tech-craze may
be on its last leg.
Of course, there are those who claim that
technology always trumps the threat of disas-
ter, just as it did with Malthus's agricultural
model. Some point to the popularity of hybrid
cars as an indication of change for the better.
But most of the electricity that's used to manu-
facture and (in the case of plug-in electric mod-
els) power these cars is made by coal power
plants. What's the sense of trading one limited,
dirty resource for another?
Others insist that the efficiency of nuclear
power plants will save us, but the upturn of
natural disasters predicted by global warming
experts has called the whole process into ques-
tion. The near meltdown of Japan's Fukushima
reactor shows us that no amount of microman-
agement can guarantee safe nuclear fission. In
fact, Germany has already committed to dis-
mantling its 17 nuclear reactors by 2022 in light
of overwhelming public concern.
What are we to do in light of these circum-
stances? It hardly seems fair to refuse India
and China pieces of the prosperity pie that the
United States has buried its face in for the last
century. But if the growing middle classes of
these and other developing countries repeat
our mistakes and demand their own cars,
trucks and SUVs, the amount of oil consumed
by their immense populations will make past
complaints of American excess look like myo-

pic temper tantrums. Even the threat of oil
depletion would pale next to the consequences
of the increase in carbon dioxide emissions
these countries are capable of.
Solar, wind and biomass energies are among
the safest, most sustainable alternatives to our
current system. Critics dismiss these sources
as expensive, undeveloped and inefficient. But
when you consider that the highest-paying
major over the course of a career for today's
college student is in petroleum engineering, it's
clear that the problem is one of bad priorities
rather than feasibility. In a society that wor-
ships the god of the bottom line, it shouldn't
come as a surprise that the best and brightest
are turning down the opportunity to develop
alternative energies when the best money is
dirty money.
My hope is that we abandon nuclear power
and foreign oil and follow the precedent set
by Germany. As the world's first renewable
energy economy, Germany derives 17 percent
of its electrical power from solar panel tech-
nology. The program welcomes open partici-
pation with a "feed-in tariff" plan that gives
landowners the right to house subsidized elec-
tric generators (wind turbines, solar panels,
etc.) on their property. The landowner is paid
for anyenergy produced on his or her property,
including the energy landowners use for their
own purposes. Plus, there's an added bonus if
the landowner produces enough electricity to
feed extra power into the public grid.
Germany's multi-party system allowed
politicians with a measure of reason to win
office and shape public opinion to ensure the
program's success. It's easy to shun our own
agency by blaming our federal government
for lax energy policies. But let's face it: We
can't expect a two-party system to champion
our best interests when politicians on both
sides of the coin have burgeoning invest-
ments in big oil. I'm not suggesting we over-
haul a system that's seen Americans through
generations of struggle. I'd instead urge
everyone who's not completely shortsighted
to rise up and demand the system address the
problems of the present day, with a collective
voice too loud to ignore - louder than cor-
porate lobbyists, diesel engines and the ham-
mering of pump jacks.
Tim Rabb is an assistant
editorial page editor.

Embrace the changes ahead

Coming back to campus to
start our senior year, my
friends and I are a little
stunned. Many of us are returning
to Ann Arbor
after semes-
ters abroad and
acclimating
to the absence
of our gradu- 4
ated friends. -
Between hugs
and house par- LIBBY
ties, we can't ASHTON
ignore the epic
finality this
year represents.
When the last class left, we
inherited their senior status even
though it doesn't quite feel right.
Even as a "senior," I don't feel sig-
nificantly surer of my dream job
than I did three years ago. But
because I know I'll have to walk
somewhere once I step off the grad-
uation stage, I fear I'll stumble into
some professional life that I'm not
sure I want. As a student of a system
that guided me here tightly and a
citizen of a country that encourages
- if not requires - a salaried, com-
mittal lifestyle, I'm having trouble
internalizing the "it'll all work out"
mantra my parents prescribe. If the
last five years of college graduates
have taught us anything, it's that
we'll be lucky to find a job - let
alone one that makes us happy.
Shouldn't we know by now what
we want to be when we grow up?
And shouldn't we have learned how
to get there? I can't help but expect
myself to build a makeshift trajec-
tory to jump on to once the one I've
followed for the last 18 years has
run its course. And I want a guar-

antee that in whatever direction I
head, I'll find fulfillment and mean-
ing - oh, and a livelihood. So while
we're celebrating the culmination
of our entire education, we're also
terrified that we're standing on the
most profound pivot point of our
lives.
But when I take my deep breath
(also part of my parents' prescrip-
tion) and stop panicking like I'm
about to be driven off a cliff into
the abyss of real adulthood, I can
see my fears of change, failure and
the unknown for what they are.
Senioritis, which feels way less
fun and more anxiety-ridden than
I remember from high school, only
enhances feelings that are common
to all people at every stage of life.
To lean into those feelings by facing
the changes and challenges head on
is to grow, albeit uncomfortably.
To question where you're headed
in life and whether or not you'll
find success once you get there is
not unique to college seniors. I met
two 26 year olds this summer who
recently quit their high-paying jobs
(one at a consulting firm, the other
at a record label) to take and cre-
ate jobs that made them want to
work longer hours for less money. It
would have been safer and probably
easier for each of them to stay with
their previous jobs, but they chose
to create the change they wanted
in their lives. The complete con-
trol we have over our post-graduate
steps allows us to pivot whenever
we want to. Few of us can make our
dream jobs appear from thin air,
but then again, some of us can.
Nancy Lublin, the CEO of DoSo-
mething.org (the non-profit where
I worked this summer) began her

career as a leader in the non-profit
sector when she was 23 years old.
She started Dress for Success, a non-
profit that provides professional
attire to low-income women, with a
$5,000 inheritance check and little
experience. When her organization
grew up and no longer needed her
leadership for its survival, she left
to take over DoSomething.org, the
leading non-profit for youth and
social change. Nancy Lublin chose
to pivot when her career was climb-
ing because she missed the excite-
ment of building something.
Question where
you're headed
in life.
Rather than fearing the end
of college, I think we're feeling
overwhelmed by our soon-xr-be
sudden gain in freedom and pos-
sibility. That freedom requ res
decision-making not just leading up
to graduation but every day there-
after. Rather than feeling pressure
to make the right career choice for
the next 10 years, we should con-
centrate on becoming even clearer
about what work engages us the
most. The only real threat we face
upon graduation is allowing our
fears to paralyze us from making
the scary decisions that always pre-
cede success.
- Libby Ashton can be reached
at eashtonsciumichedu

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