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October 19, 2011 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-10-19

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4A - Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4A - Wednesday, October 19, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

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

'Occupy' is socialist...so what?




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.
Illuminate Detroit's issue
Privatization can't fix public lighting problem
D etroit has been struggling for decades to shine as a major
American city. Now, residents and city officials are calling
attention to Detroit's inability to keep its streets lit. While
this is a difficult issue for a city with few resources, the Bing adminis-
tration must quickly develop an effective plan to address the lighting
issue to ensure the safety of Detroit residents.

A s you may have heard,
some greedy low-life punks
inhabit Wall Street right
now. No, not the executives and
bankers who
torpedoed the
American econ-
omy and caused ..
a global finan-
cial crisis. Those
people are hon-
est hardwork-
ing folks. It's DAR-WEI
the Occupy Wall CHEN
Street protest-
ers. According
to many in Republican circles, these
people are lazy socialists looking for
government handouts. Fox News
pundit and conservative media rat-
ings giant Sean Hannity said this
to an OWS protester: "You don't
believe in liberty, you don't believe
in freedom." He also threw in a
"Marxist" charge in there for good
measure and probably said some-
thing about fascism and socialism
since he and his Fox cohorts use all
of those terms interchangeably.
The funny thing is, Hannity and
other conservatives don't seem to
realize that OWS is actually similar
to his beloved Tea Party. Both are
angry about the various bailouts
over the past few years - albeit for
somewhat different reasons - and
want to have their voices heard in
the political process (the Tea Party
has since gotten off economics and
decided to focus on God, guns and
gays, but stick with me here). I know
Tea Party supporters are reading
this and thinking: "You liberals
slammed us for our protests, so if
our movements are so similar, the
OWS movement should be slammed
too!" However, no one is criticiz-
ing the Tea Party movement for
the fact that the party's supporters
wanted to express their opinions -
the main gripe people have is with
its policies and actions. Tea Party

folks are the ones that brought guns
to see President Barack Obama
and shouted racial and gay slurs at
Democratic lawmakers during the
health care reform debate. More
recently, they cheered Republi-
can Gov. Rick Perry's executions,
applauded the idea of letting an
uninsured sick man die and jeered a
soldier for being openly gay.
So what does the OWS move-
ment want, anyway? The message
from OWS protesters has not been
streamlined into a few cliche talk-
ing points because no leader has
emerged yet. Nevertheless, the gen-
eral complaints are that corporate
influence in politics is too pervasive,
the financial system is rigged for
the rich and Wall Street is not being
held accountable for its actions in
destroying the economy. Sounds
populist (or socialist, depending
on perspective) enough, but top
Republican presidential hopefuls
are already taking their shots.
GOP presidential candidate Her-
man Cain said this to OWS protest-
ers in an interview with The Wall
Street Journal: "If you don't have
a job and you're not rich, blame
yourself." Hmmm ... maybe he's
right - people need to assume more
personal responsibility. Wait, what
if you're a public school teacher in
Wisconsin who earns a startingsal-
ary of barely more than $25,000 to
do the important work of educating
the next generation? Or how about a
private who has served in the Army
for six years and still receives annu-
al basic pay of less than $20,000 to
defend our nation? Are they at fault
for choosing a profession that pays
so poorly? Next time I see a teach-
er or a soldier, I will be sure to tell
them "blame yourself."
GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney
has also demonized the protesters,
saying they are inciting "class war-
fare." He is trying to say that the
lower and middle classes are wag-

ing "class warfare" on the upper
class, but I got confused because I
thought the statement makes more
sense the other way around. Check
out these statistics: The United
States has the 39th-most unequal
income distribution in the world,
behind almost all Western coun-
tries - incomes are actually more
equal in Iran. And it's no surprise
because the wealthiest 1 percent in
the U.S. earns almost one-quarter
of all income. Remember, if you
don't like these numbers, you're
fascist. And socialist. And whatever
Protests aim for
not revolution.


From massive population and business
flight, to an unsustainable 13 percent unem-
ployment rate, the Motor City's list of ailments
is growing and the money to address these
problems is virtually non-existent. Making
matters worse, nearly 20 percent of all public
lighting in Detroit doesn't work, and efforts to
fix the problem are proving ineffective.
According to The Detroit News, 15 to 20
percent of the city's 88,000 lights aren't work-
ing. In some neighborhoods, 50 percent of
lighting is non-functional. Public lighting
currently costs the city $10.7 million annually,
and fixing the problem would substantially
increase that figure.
The biggest challenge facing efforts to
relight the city is theft of valuable transform-
ers and wiring in lighting fixtures. Many of
the fixtures are outdated, allowing for crimi-
nals to easily rip transformers from bottoms.
These units are costly and time-consuming to
replace - often requiring the entire fixture to
be rewired.
City workers are replacing transform-
ers, but they cannot keep up with the rate of
theft. In the Indian Village neighborhood,
transformers disappear only days after being
replaced. In one incident, a worker was seri-
ously burned during an underground explo-
sion, which highlighted the age of cables and
lack of previous maintenance.
The city should focus on infrastructure
problems and maintenance. These efforts,
however, need to be prioritized by neighbor-

hood. Since many neighborhoods are almost
completely unpopulated, the city should first
focus on densely populated areas that require
lighting repairs.
Detroit residents have expressed concerns
that the lack of public lighting decreases their
feeling of security. Dark neighborhoods and
stretches of major roads do little to detract
from Forbes ranking Detroit the most danger-
ous city in the country. Lighting has the poten-
tial to improve individuals' perception of their
safety and potentially impact crime. If Detroit
is goingto thrive again asa city, residents need
to feel safe living there.
The city has been exploring options to
privatize public lighting, including a deal
with DTE Energy. Transferring the problem
to a third party risks that company putting its
profits before the people of Detroit. Privati-
zation will not detract from the underlying
theft issue. Public lighting is a city concern
and should be taken care of by the Public
Lighting Department.
A plan to combat the problem was sup-
posed to be revealed at an Oct. 17 Detroit
City Council meeting, but no representative
from Public Lighting came. Detroit officials
need to take the public lighting problem seri-
ously, not delegate it to private companies or
ignore it altogether. When the issue is read-
dressed at the City Council meeting on Oct.
31, Detroit must come up with a comprehen-
sive plan to turn the lights back on and keep
its residents safe.

that last one is.
The main point I want to make
is OWS is a movement that almost
everyone should be able to appreci-
ate and that even some of the rich-
est (like Warren Buffet and Dallas
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban)
are supporting. Conservatives will
deride it as socialist, but if you think
about it, who isn't a socialist? Unless
you are against every form of gov-
ernment wealth redistribution (like
taxes going toward roads, high-
ways, schools, police, firefighting,
military, environmental protection,
health care, food inspection, etc.),
you are socialist at some level. It's
just a label. The people at OWS want
the government and Wall Street to
be accountable to the vast majority
of people in this country, not a rul-
ing elite class. If that idea makes me
socialist, sign me up.
-Dar-Wei Chen can be reached
at chendw@umich.edu.

Aida Ali, Michelle DeWitt, Ashley Griesshammer, Patrick Maillet,
Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley,
Teddy Papes, Timothy Rabb, Seth Soderborg, Andrew Weiner
A win for the Great Lakes

Shalit's release stirs debate

Yesterday morning, Gilad Shalit, the Israeli
soldier abducted by Hamas militants in June
2006 and held with minimal human contact
in the Gaza Strip for more than five years,
returned home. The media was abound with
heart-wrenching images of his reunion with
his parents Aviva and Noam and relatives
who tirelessly applied pressure to the Israeli
government to negotiate his safe return. They
inspired a widespread movement and helped
to sculpt a national consciousness commit-
ted to his safe return. In addition to the long
awaited return of a young man to his home, the
event must be understood as an instillation of
national cohesion and an opportunity to reflect
on and strengthen prospects for peace.
While the overwhelming majority of Israe-
lis support the deal, many express concern and
some opposition. Indeed, Shalit's return is not
without a price: Israel will release 1,027 Pales-
tinian prisoners, 477 of whom were released
Monday, the day before Gilad was returned,
and 315 of whom are convicted of killing hun-
dreds of Israelis in terror attacks. Among them
is Hamas militant Abdullah Barghouti, who is
serving 67 life sentences for building bombs
used in suicide attacks. Some of the family
members of terror victims whose killers are
to be released petitioned the Israeli Supreme
Court to halt the exchange. The court declined
intervention in fear of endangering Gilad's
life. Israel has freed 13,509 prisoners in order
to release a total of 16 soldiers. This is an aver-
age ratio of 800 to L Furthermore, Israel has
exchanged hundreds of prisoners for the dead
bodies of abducted Israeli soldiers.
Like many other aspects of this conflict, the
arguments for and against this deal are com-
plicated and nuanced. There are strong argu-
ments against making such disproportional
exchanges of human beings. First, terrorist
militants may be emboldened to kidnap more
Israeli soldiers knowing that Israel will go to
great lengths to secure their return. Hamas
deputy leader Abu Marzouk commented that
Hamas will continue to use means for abduct-
ing soldiers until the remainder of the prison-
ers are released in hostage exchanges. Second,
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Abbas greeted the released prisoners yester-
day as "freedom fighters" and "holy warriors."
In addition, Hamas has declared the prisoner
exchange a victory against Israel, validating its
policy of armed resistance over Abbas's policy
of peace-seeking.

There are also strong arguments for the
exchange. First, it endows each soldier withthe
knowledge that his or her country and govern-
ment will go to extraordinarylengths to ensure
his or her return. Such national consciousness
and awareness promotes unity, strength and
conviction within both the army and the civil-
ian population. Second, it is inaccurate to view
the exchange of one life for more than 1,000 as
a sign of weakness. Indeed, it is a strength to
deny the quantifying of human life. It is also
important to consider the families of the pris-
oners being exchanged. While several hundred
are convicted terrorists, many of the released
Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons under
ambiguous levels of conviction and some held
without trial.
The prisoner exchange also occurs at a
unique time in the peace process. Interestingly,
both sides hail the exchange as a victory. For
Israel, the entire countryhas pushed forGilad's
return for five years, and Prime Minister Ben-
jamin Netanyahu has finally delivered it. For
the Palestinians, the West Bank's Palestin-
ian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas's party
called Fatah, and Hamas, the terrorist orga-
nization that rules the Gaza Strip, have united
in triumph at the release of both Hamas and
Fatah members. The prisoner exchange nego-
tiations were moderated by Egypt, a nation
whose political stability is questionable, has a
peace treaty with Israel and is on good terms
with the Palestinians - making it an ideal bro-
ker for other agreements. This successfulnego-
tiation gives hope to the future of peace talks
between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
The Palestinian statehood bid at the United
Nations is still on the table, and Gilad's release
is a great jumping off point for negotiations to
recommence. Deep concessions on both sides
are necessary to attain peace; compromise,
negotiation and dialogue are indispensible.
Disproportionate and unilateral action should
be avoided at all cost. Both sides must be pre-
pared to cooperate on a range of issues previ-
ously considered "unnegotiable." Gilad waited
in captivity for five years, and his homecom-
ing is miraculous. Let us hope that we all do
not have to wait as long as Gilad did for peace
to arrive.
Naomi Scheinerman is an LSA senior.
She is the Israel chair at Hillel. Tali Nachbi
is an LSA junior. She is the chair of the
American Movement for Israel.

hat a terrible weekend
in sports for the state.
Michigan natives know
what I'm talking
about: Our Wol-
verines fell to
the thugs in East
Lansing for the
year, the Tigers _
got thumped out
of the playoffs by JOE
the Rangers and SUGIYAMA
Lions Coach Jim
Schwartz almost
had a conniption after an aggres-
sive handshake and a Detroit loss.
Michiganders need something,
anything, to help swallow such a
disappointingtwo days.
How about an adrenaline shot
to the Great Lakes Restoration
Initiative? Well, it's no Big Ten
Championship, but beggars can't be
The GLRI was first sent into
motion in 2005 under the Bush
administration, but it was President
Barack Obama who first provided
federal funding for the initiative -
about $775 million in the past two
years. Though this is a far-cry from
the promised $5 billion over the
next 10 years, it's a start.
According to the Environmen-
tal Protection Agency, the GLRI is
meant to actively restore the Great
Lakes, while preventing further
destruction to the region. Unfor-
tunately, it's become commonplace
to now pay for the past 100 years of
damages done to the environment.
It took our government decades to
figure out that dumping toxins into
drinking water wasn't exactly the
best thing for our health or the health
of the environment. Even after the
creation of the EPA, it took a while
to finally get it right. Over the past 50
years, the focus has been on how to
stop our waters from getting worse,
but only recently has fixing our mis-
takes become a focal point.

The issues vexing the Great Lakes
are numerous. Agricultural run-
off is causing algae booms, which
lower the oxygen levels in the water
and suffocate aquatic life. Indus-
trial pollution blankets lake beds,
posing a direct threat to human
health by poisoning the water and
contaminating fish. Invasive spe-
cies of mollusks and fish threaten
to send the current ecosystem into
an unrecoverable tailspin. I think it
goes without saying that the GLRI
is a long time coming.
Not only will the GLRI help to
mend the Great Lakes, it will also
provide the Midwest with jobs. In
order to receive funding from the
EPA for individual clean-up proj-
ects, the designers of the clean-up
will need to provide 20 jobs to the
previously unemployed. Currently,
the EPA has set $6.6 million aside
for the sole purpose of paying the
wages of people put back to work
through different GLRI grants.
Though this is a small sum, it's
another step in the right direction.
This action shouldn't be catego-
rized as frivolous spending of our
tax dollars - it's employing the
unemployed to provide a service
that's desperately needed.
So what's stopping the GLRI
from achieving its long-term finan-
cial goal? Well, the state of the
economy for one. But the driving
opposition to the initiative is - wait
for it - disagreement within Con-
gress. Who would've thought? A
number of members of Congress are
opposed to any plans of action set
forth by the EPA and view the GLRI
as just another creation proposed by
fear-mongering tree-huggers.
Those from the Midwest know
better, and the initiative has gained
bipartisan support from our region.
To counteract the opposition, Ohio
Republican Rep. Steve LaTourette
suggests good bookkeeping is the
key to swaying those opposed. By
making"sure the money is resulting

in shovels being turned, sediments
being removed and fish habitat
being restored," the EPA can assure
Congress that the money is "not sit-
ting in some federal agency's bank
account," he said.
Though this approach would
appear to be a standard operating
procedure, LaTourette's words sug-
gest otherwise. If bad bookkeeping
habits are all that is stopping the
GLRI from going into full swing,
then the blame should fall squarely
on the shoulders of the government
for its poor organizational skills.

has gotten an
adrenaline shot.
The GLRI will always have its
opponents, and those hailing from
the coasts or the South will never
fully appreciate this great resource
that provides drinking water for
about 30 million Americans. Obama
has proposed that another $350
million be pumped into the GLRI in
2012. However, that money is at the
mercy of those unacquainted with
the shores of Lake Michigan.
Years of futility have plagued the
Great Lakes for some time now, but
ever the eternal optimist, I think
things are starting to look up, and
the EPA is on the right track with
the GLRI. If you still doubt that good
things are around the corner for the
Great Lakes, just look at the Great
Lakes' own Detroit Lions. Yeah,
they suffered their first loss of the
season on Sunday, but 5-1 isn't bad.
Anyone else smell a Super Bowl? The
eternal optimist strikes again.
Joe Sugiyama can be reached
at jmsugi@umich.edu.



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