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4A -Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

fi tidhiian &4~l
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com
MICHELLE DEWITT
STEPHANIE STEINBERG and EMILY ORLEY NICK SPAR
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS 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.
Imran Syed is the public editor. He can be reached at publiceditor@michigandaily.com.
FROM THE DAILY
Drive awav sales tax
Senate shouldn't adopt infrastructure proposal
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder presented a report in late Octo-
ber from the state House of Representatives Transporta-
tion Committee that found the costs to meet Michigan's
infrastructure needs would exceed the current budget allotment by
$1.4 billion. In an attempt to account for this discrepancy, the state
Senate is considering a proposal to increase infrastructure funding
by replacing the current gas tax with an increased sales tax. The
proposal would unfairly tax residents and should not replace the
current gas tax.

HANNAH DOW

E-MAIL HANNAH AT HDOW @UMICH.EI)U

4

'Tis the season to ask for absolutely
-eore. covete preposterous things, in order to get
the usual socks, underwear and the
°,occasional electronic device
Gbson Les Paul
-Gol olex
Sustainable jobs
U nemploymentin the state ronment for Michiganders and supporting the car industry to bring
of Michigan is the fourth specifically Detroiters. It is impor- labor jobs back from foreign soil to
highest in the nation at tant to keep in mind that Detroit's the United States.
10.6 percent. unemployment rate, at 12.7 percent,
The unemploy- -~ is higher than the state's already
ment rate has upsettingly high rate - illustrat-
been higher inghow imperative it is to focus our Green collar jobs
than 10 percent - efforts on Detroit.
for longer than These efforts include transform- can help restore
any other state. ing and re-opening old automobile
Those are the manufacturing plants - that were the economy.
cold, hard, dis- NORA once the epitome of the Detroit,
heartening, facts. STEPHENS and Michigan, economy - into
But who plants that manufacture items like In addition to supporting the
are the unem- electric vehicles and wind turbines re-opening of old plants for manu-
ployed? I find these numbers are that are environmentally friendly, facturing environmentally friendly
often thrown at us without explain- though there is some debate as to items, we can also support the
ing the true demographics of how effective electric vehicles are in weatherization of low-income
people who are having difficulty terms of reducing the use of natural homes to cut-down homeowners'
putting food on the table for their resources, they are an effective way heat costs. An initiative by non-
families. In Michigan, the chron- to eradicate some of the country's profits WARM Training Center and
ically-unemployed come from disgustingly high fossil fuel usage. Southwest Solutions aims to cre-
working class communities, where And what better place to mass- ate jobs for the chronically unem-
even people who have jobs are not produce these vehicles than in the ployed by refurbishing the homes
receiving a livable wage. Over two- Motor City? of low-income senior citizens in
thirds of workers in the state earn a An e-petition, titled "Electric the Detroit area. Southwest Solu-
median wage that is considered low Vehicles: Built by Michigan," is cir- tions works with WARM Training
income for a family of four. cling around and calling for people Center, which offers free, unpaid,
In the recent weeks there have to "urge Governor Rick Snyder 10-week long skill-trainings in
been several Michigan Daily articles and the state Legislature to sup- home repair, green building and
written about the importance of port the success of Michigan's energy-efficient building. These
sustainability. So propose we talk emerging electric car industry." By trainings have created 11 corps of
about combining the two - let's contacting our local and state gov- workers who are skilled in making
start a conversation around sustain- ernment, we can voice our support homes more energy efficient at a
ability and working-class jobs, or for "Senator Stabenow's proposed low cost. We can support the work
what esteemed environmental and legislation that would allow electric of programs like these, which cre-
civil rights activist Van Jones calls a vehicle buyers to receive a direct ate working-class jobs, cut down
"green collar economy." rebate instead of a tax credit" and the heating bills of low-income citi-
So what can be done? And how "implementing clean fuel standards zens and improve the energy effi-
can college students have an effect that require an increasing percent- ciency of homes.
on improving the state's unemploy- age of electricity and other alter- Supporting green collar jobs is a
ment rate? native fuels for powering vehicles key piece in supporting an economic
My work as an intern with a within Michigan" - just to name a recovery in Michigan. The work
Southeast Michigan branch of Jobs few of the petition's proposals. By is currently taking place, but more
for Justice, a coalition-building supporting the growth of the elec- supporters are necessary, so let's
community organizing group, has tric car industry and the manufac- rally around the creation of jobs and
given me some firsthand insight turing of these vehicles in Detroit, sustainable initiatives.
into what could fundamentally we are supporting the necessity to
improve employment levels and open more plants and create more -Nora Stephens can be
have positive effects on the envi- jobs for workers - not to mention, reached at norals@mich.edu.
CLARE TOENISKOETTER E
Make local food affordable for all

I

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In Michigan, infrastructure funding
comes from a 19 cent per gallon state tax on
gas. The proposal put forward by state Sen.
Howard Walker (R-Traverse City) last week
would replace the revenue lost from cutting
the gas tax by increasing the state sales tax
from 6 percent to 7 percent. The extra rev-
enue - estimated at $830 million in 2012 by
the Senate Fiscal Agency - would go to the
Michigan Transportation Fund.
According to the Michigan Department
of Transportation, the state would lose $962
million if the gas tax were repealed. The rev-
enue from Walker's proposal would increase
to an estimated $1.14 billion in2013, but costs
associated with implementing the measure
could lower the potential revenues, accord-
ing to the Michigan Infrastructure and
Transportation Association.
A gas tax is a logical way to raise revenue
for state road repairs. Under the current
system, when drivers buy gas, they pay for
their vehicle's fuel and use of the road. This
system makes sense because drivers who use
the roads are the people paying to upkeep
them. By increasing in the sales tax, the
Legislature would be putting the burden on
all Michigan residents instead of those who
use roads the most.
In order to raise the sales tax, voters
would have to amend the state constitution.
As the recession has been particularly harsh
in Michigan, it will be difficult to convince

residents to voluntarily raise taxes. The cam-
paign for the proposal would be costly and
time consuming, and no back-up plan to gen-
erate the funds lost by repealing the gas tax
currently exists. Michigan's already deterio-
rating infrastructure would be set back even
further if voters rejected the measure.
Proponents of repealing the gas tax say
cities along Michigan's border are hurt when
drivers go to neighboring states to fill up their
vehicles, but there is little evidence of signifi-
cant economic impact. The proposal does not
solely impact border cities, and justifications
based on the impact to border cities alone fail
to account for the good of the state.
Lowering the price of gas would also nega-
tively impact the environment. The gas tax
and high gas prices discourage people from
driving, which means less greenhouse gases
from tailpipes are released. A repeal of the
gas tax would likely increase gas sales, and
it would not discourage people from making
environmentally conscious driving decisions.
There is no doubt that the state's infra-
structure must be addressed, seeing that
Michigan's roads are consistently voted some
of the worst in the nation. But this proposal
puts Michigan in a worse position to fix the
problem. Other proposals - including rais-
ing vehicle registration fees - should be
explored to return Michigan's roads back to
favorable conditions and to fund the project
the right way.

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EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Michelle DeWitt, Ashley Griesshammer, Nirbhay Jain, Jesse Klein,
Patrick Maillet, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley, Teddy Papes, Timothy Rabb,
Vanessa Rychlinski, Caroline Syms, Seth Soderborg, Andrew Weiner
JESSE KLEIN IE
Pass on English grades

For most classes, I know what I have to do
to get a good grade. Math, do more practice
problems. Science, study the book and make
flashcards. But with English classes, I feel
powerless to increase my grade through sheer
hard work. Writing is an extremely important
skill for all majors. If you are able to write well,
you will succeed in more jobs and be more
valuable to your field of study. It is important
to be able to communicate your ideas to other
professionals, but students should be focusing
on improving this vital skill instead of pleas-
ingthe professor. English classes are extreme-
ly subjective, and 100 level classes should be
taken pass/fail. of course, it is possible to take
any class pass/fail, but that option tends to
look bad on a transcript. Most students, pro-
fessors and professional or graduate schools
see a pass/fail class as a way to hide a C-.
There is such variance in English profes-
sors. English 100 level classes are taught by
a variety of instructors, from graduate stu-
dent instructors to lecturers and professors.
Each level has different standards for A, B
and C papers because of their differences in
experience. English professors also do not
put papers through a scantron - there is no
formulaic standard for grading and instead,
the grade is based off the specific professors'
nuances. The best way for students in differ-
ent English classes to be treated equally is to
change the format of the classes to be taken
pass/fail.
It is usually easy to tell if a student has put
effort into a paper. If the paper meets require-
ments, has insight, an interesting thought pro-
cess and has been edited, itusually will receive
at least a C. The variances come in the passing
grades, Cs through As. But this can be the dif-

ference in getting into a good graduate school.
An A paper for one professor may be a C to
another. Students applying to medical school,
the Ross School of Business or any graduate
school in general, need a high GPA. Some stu-
dents enroll in the College of Literature Sci-
ence and the Arts to go into the sciences and
do not need to be the next Hemingway. They
need to be able to communicate their ideas
clearly, not tell amazingstories in fantastically
creative ways. Most students expect English
to be a class that can boost their GPAs and, for
some it is, but for others who are stuck with
hard graders it can cause their GPAs to suffer.
The difference in English professors' grades
can artificially inflate or deflate a student's
GPA regardless of the academic ability of the
student. Graduate or professional schools do
not know which students had harsh graders
and which had easier ones. The schools might
pass over a student with a lower GPA for a
higher one - unaware that the student with
the lower GPA was writing better papers for a
more-difficult-to-please professor.
The point of English classes is to increase.
the writing ability of students. Professors
stress that the class is not about getting an A
but exploring oneself through interesting top-
ics. Grammar and clarity can be improved by
learning the rules, but a person's writing style
is entirely their own and should not have to
be compromised to fit the likes of a professor.
Writing is an art form and personal opinion
on how something should be communicated.
Making English 100 level classes pass/fail
would allow students to keep their creative
license without sacrificing a good grade.
Jesse Klein is an LSA freshwan

The Farmers Market, the People's Food Co-op, the
Produce Station, Harvest Kitchen, the Homegrown Fes-
tival, the Jolly Pumpkin - inAnn Arbor, the list of places
where residents can buy and eat locally grown food goes
on and on. But is it as easy for residents of other cities to
buy community-based agriculture? And how affordable
is this lifestyle?
Take two Michigan communities: Ann Arbor and Pon-
tiac. Residents of Ann Arbor tend to be wealthy and white.
With a population of 113,934, 73 percent of residents are
white, the median income for a family is $71,293 and only
4.6 percent of families are below the poverty line, accord-
ing to the U.S. Census Bureau. Pontiac, on the other hand,
is a less wealthy city made up of more minorities. Pontiac
has a population of 59,515, of which S1.1 percent are Afri-
can American, 26.6 percent are white and 16.5 percent
are Hispanic or Latino. The median income of a family is
only $36,391 with 18 percent of families living below the
poverty line.
Comparing the two cities, local food options are dras-
tically different. Ann Arbor offers dozens of regional
food options year-round, including grocery stores, mar-
kets, restaurants and cafes where patrons can buy and
eat local.
Looking for local food in Pontiac? Good luck. Two
small grocery stores feature "Market" in their name
and sell some produce from nearby farms, but for a true
farmers' market or restaurants featuring dishes from
community farms, Pontiac residents would have to
commute to affluent neighboring communities such as
Rochester or Birmingham.
Even if Pontiac did offer the cornucopia of choices seen
in Ann Arbor, it is unlikely that Pontiac residents could
bear the price tag that often goes along with local pro-
duce. However, the prices are not exorbitantly expensive
- at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, a dozen eggs can
be bought for $3, 8 pounds of potatoes for $4 and a head
of lettuce for $2. Still, this is more expensive than buy-
ing similar products at Meijer where a dozen eggs is only
$1.68, 8 pounds of potatoes are $2.30 and a head of lettuce
is $1.29. A few dollars in savings can go a long way for low
income residents.
Perhaps economically struggling people would resort
to the even cheaper $1 McDouble hamburger at McDon-
ald's or 89 cents cheesy double beef burrito at Taco Bell,
which are not local or healthy, yet they flaunt a much
more affordable bill for impecunious residents of Pon-
tiac. This dilemma was recently looked at by researchers
at the University of Washington who found that nutrient-
dense, low-calorie foods are pricier than their high-fat,
unhealthy counterparts. Additionally, each year nutri-

ent-dense foods are becoming more expensive at a quick-
er rate than the calorie-packed foods. With this price
discrepancy, we can only expect people with financial
problems to become more reliant on cheap, unhealthy
food like McDonald's and Taco Bell.
Yes, buying local food has its benefits, including sup-
porting the regional economy, knowing where your food
comes from, lessening your environmental impact and,
depending on the person, even enjoying better tasting
food. However, locally grown food options tend to be
not only more expensive, but also simply not present in
slightly poorer communities. Cities like Pontiac should
look to expand local food options and offer this food at
equal or lower prices to grocery stores. To make food
affordable, local farms could accept food stamps, make
donations to food pantries, encourage community pro-
grams where people can volunteer on farms and receive
food in exchange for their services or the government
could offer subsidies to lower prices.
Pontiac, and other cities in similar situations, can
also turn to Detroit as a model for improvement. In
addition to farmers' markets and local food vendors,
Detroit has spearheaded an urban farms initiative. One
of these farms, the D-Town Farm, is 4 acres and grows
35 kinds of fruit and vegetables. Planted by volunteers,
the farm helps feed a community and bring people
together. Farms like this make Detroit a progressive city
when it comes to providing affordable alternative food
options to its residents. Urban farms are bringing jobs,
healthy local produce and a better environment to the
struggling city of Detroit.
Would a similar program succeed in Pontiac? For
urban farms like those in Detroit to expand to other
poverty-stricken areas, word needs to spread about
the benefits of urban farms. Through schools, commu-
nity programs and media, the success of urban farms in
Detroit should be stressed to residents of other strug-
gling areas. This will create a demand, and once Pontiac
residents want these farms, the farms are more likely
to succeed.
Though the situation in Detroit is looking up, let us not
forget Pontiac. Pontiac is only one example of an econom-
ically struggling community that offers few local food
options due to both availability and affordability. There
are many more cities in Michigan and across the country
in similar situations where residents have no option but
to buy unhealthy imported food. Cities should start look-
ing to Detroit as an example and make local food afford-
able not just for the affluent, but for all.
Clare Toeniskoetter is an LSA junior

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