4 - Friday, January 20, 2012
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com 0
4 - Friday, January 20, 2012 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
JOSEPH LICHTERMAN and ANDREW WEINER JOSH HEALY
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cleaner and greener
Michigan must increase renewable energy use
World energy needs have long been supported by unsustain-
able resources. Though further innovation must occur,
cleaner and greener sources are critical to the future of
energy usage. Michigan currently has the opportunity to make the
necessary change toward a greater use of renewable energy. The
Michigan Jobs & Energy Coalition is pushing to amend the state con-
stitution to require more of Michigan's utilities to come from renew-
able sources by 2025. Michigan residents should sign the petition for
this ballot-initiative and vote to make it a constitutional amendment in
the Nov. 6 general election, and the state Legislature should fully sup-
E-MAIL JEFF AT JEFFDZ)UMICHs.EDU
port the proposal.
On Jan. 11, the Michigan Jobs & Energy
Coalition filed the proposed ballot language
that would require one-quarter of Michigan's
utilities to come from renewable sources
by 2025. Current law requires 10 percent of
Michigan's electricity to come from renew-
able sources by 2015. The proposed ballot-
initiative would increase the goal, putting
Michigan on par with several other states
in energy progression. While The Michigan
Daily doesn't usually support ballot-initia-
tives, this specific proposal would benefit
Michigan's technological sector, its environ-
ment and the state as a whole.
While 25 percent use of renewable energy
may seem like a drastic increase from the four
percent Michigan used in 2009, the greener
number is within reach. Four percent renew-
able energy is far too low a number in a state
like Michigan, where clean energy infrastruc-
ture is a reasonable alternative. Several plans
have explored the feasibility of installing wind
turbines in the Great Lakes. Development of
the turbines would greatly benefit from this
plan. Michigan wouldn't be the only state to
have 25 percent of energy coming from renew-
able resources - six other states have set this
commendable goal, and several have even
This plan promises a cleaner environment
for everyone. The National Academy of Sci-
ences estimates that the United States could
The relentless negative ads With that in mind, I have
by my opponents are dirty, decided to release an ad ...wait, I think I just
dishonest, and distort the that depicts Mitt Romney blanked out. What am
issues at hand. as a negligent dog-abuser. I trying to accomplish
More than just a phone
hen I started at the these computers (read: communi- on their big boy or girl pants and
University in fall 2008 cation, gaming and web-surfing exhibit self-control when neces-
devices) often hold the attention of sary. If a student chooses to spend
I was sporting students, myself included, better his or her class time hidden behind
a trendy Sam- than a professor's lecture slides. a computer screen or looking at his
sung flip phone. As far as phones go, however, or her phone for non-class related
However, by Fall most professors draw a line in the purposes (assuming such actions
Break I real- sand and strictly prohibit their use do not negatively impact other stu-
ized how much during class for any purpose. With dents' ability to pay attention), such
I could benefit improved technology, device dis- students should endure the conse-
from receiving LEAH crimination becomes an issue, as quences of their actions. And while
my e-mail on my POTKIN smartphones double as computers some may argue that electronic
phone and made for some students and therefore devices are better left outside the
the switch to a have equal abilities to benefit and classroom to avoid the inevitable
BlackBerry. With my new phone I distract in the classroom. temptation, there is no denying the
could receive CTools notifications With these similarities in mind, advantages associated with allow-
(to avoid being the only student to the line dividing acceptable class- ing computers, and potentially now
show up when a class had been can- room electronics becomes blurred,
celled), reply quickly to professors' as smartphones could arguably
e-mails (to avoid getting back to my provide the same advantages as
dorm only to realize that my pro- computers now do. In this sense, if People struggle to
fessor was free to meet 20 minutes teachers allow students to use com-
prior) and feel more connected on a puters in the classroom, they have find technology's
campus as large as the University's. little reason to ban phones - par-
Now a recent iPhone convert, I can ticularly smart ones. In the past, educational role.
do more on my phone than my Sam- teachers could argue that phone
sung-equipped self ever thought use was strictly social and non-
possible, but it's hard to say wheth- academic. But now, in the same
er or not this ability is beneficial to way a teacher doesn't know what a phones, in the classroom.
me as a student. student is doing on his or her lap- I am by no means advocating
While the iPhone is undoubt- top (many students have mastered spending class time. wandering
edly an incredible device - equally putting on the inquisitive note- in cyber space, but as computers
entertaining as it is educational taking face while really Facebook and phones now share equal pro
- its ability to connect its owner chatting), the teacher doesn't know and con lists, it seems only logical
with everything and anything has whether what a student is doing on that their use be equally treated.
been a recent topic of debate. One his or her smartphone is class-relat- And when it comes to the matter of
of Newsweek's '31 Ways to Get ed. And many students do prefer to self-control, it's both the student's
Smarter in 2012' was to "toss your take notes and read documents on responsibility and decision wheth-
smartphone," while another was to these smaller devices in an effort to er to pay attention to a screen or a
play Words with Friends, a popular be environmentally friendly. professor. While the contradiction
Scrabble-like application - contra- A related issue is the question of surrounding smartphone use in
diction at its finest, responsibility and whether profes- class continues to be debated, at
This contradiction is nothing sors should be charged with the least if a student chooses to occa-
new, as the advances in smartphone task of ensuring their students are sionally engage in a tense game
technology and their proliferation paying attention. Ideally, the class- of Words With Friends during
on campuses has created a conun- room will reach an ultimate uto- class time they're exercising their
drum for college professors. In the pian balance between electronic brains.
past, most college professors have intervention and self-control, but as
permitted laptop computers for the people struggle to find technology's - Leah Potkin can be reached
sole purpose of doing class-related appropriate place in the classroom, at Ipotkin@mich.edu. Follow her
activities, despite knowing that I believe it is up to students to pull on Twitter at @LeahPotkin.
SAM MYERS I
Disappointing MLK's legacy
save $120 billion in health care costs per year
if Americans stopped using all fossil fuels.
Renewable energy reduces pollution in the
air, which has been linked to many diseases,
including lung cancer. The plan would also
reduce electricity and industrial pollution - a
major cause of acid rain, which pollutes water
and makes crops and vegetation potentially
harmful for human consumption.
The proposal also has the potential to cre-
ate jobs in Michigan. It will spark more than
$10 million in much-needed new investment.
Contrary to many fears, an incentive would be
put into place that encourages hiring of Michi-
gan workers rather than importingout-of-state
employees. Increasing the use of clean energy
won't cost significantly more for Michigan resi-
dents. A Dec. 2011 study by ClearSky Advisors
proves that states with high volumes of wind
and solar energy have seen well below average
cost increases. Under this proposal, the utility
rate increases would be capped at a 1 percent
increase per year, making the new industry a
cost efficient energy source.
Michigan has the opportunity to set clean
energy goals that will help the state's economy
as well as create a cleaner environment for resi-
dents. This proposal gives Michigan the ability
to move in a high-tech and innovative direc-
tion, resulting in jobs and economic growth. A
cleaner and healthier future is at stake, and all
residents should support the measure.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Laura Argintar, Kaan Avdan, Ashley Griesshammer, Nirbhay Jain, Jesse Klein,
Patrick Maillet, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Timothy Rabb, Harsha Panduranga, Adrienne
Roberts,Vanessa Rychlinski, Sarah Skaluba, Seth Soderborg, Caroline Syms, Andrew Weiner
BRITTANY SMITH I
Since returning to the University after
studying abroad at the London School of Eco-
nomics five months ago, I've struggled with
what my follow-up will be to a blog post I
wrote a year ago. I've thought a lot about how
my life has changed. But after considering
my various epiphanies, revelations, setbacks
and surprises that have caused me to alter my
worldview considerably, I can now see how
limiting my first piece might have been. I now
wrestle with what might be the hardest part
about writing the capstone to my trilogy - the
story I will now tell.
Before I left for London last spring, I set an
agenda. It seemed simple at the time. I wanted
to escape what seemed like a place that wasn't
a good fit for me - the University of Michigan.
I wanted to leave the place that seemed so
stifling and gray, and exchange it for what I
assumed wasthe big city life of London. And, if
I liked my time in London, I assumed I would
switch schools altogether. But I did not expect
that my time in England would help me value
being a student at the University, and a citizen
of this country.
London is a powerful city - it surpassed
my imagination. When I landed I immediate-
ly began to understand why England, and its
capital city, were regarded as the seat of the
British Empire. This forced me to navigate a
complex cultural scene of race, class and sta-
tus. Parts of me felt privileged in ways that I
had never experienced before. My politics and
my reality just didn't fit in.
Students atLSE are as diverse as the nations
representing the Group of 20 finance minis-
ters and central bank governors. I learned that
the social consequences associated with the
classification of race are different in the U.S.
than they are in the U.K. Justice, for instance,
seemed to be grounded in class and nation-
hood, not race.
Standing in the line to go through immi-
gration at the airport in London, I noticed
how quickly certain people were going
through, while others' paths were less com-
fortable. What I found interesting was that
there seemed to be a pattern of behavior: the
color of one's passport seemed to dictate the
respect security officials showed passengers.
Americans and people from Western Europe,
were surveyed with less suspicion than those
from Eastern Europe or Africa. But when
I witnessed the experience of Southeast
Asians, I was shocked at what I saw. South-
east Asian passengers were met with anx-
iousness and nervousness.
Once again, national identity - not race -
defined social status.
Thinking about the different ways I was
being viewed as an American (and not as a
black American) felt surreal. Even talking
with my black British peers in the halls of LSE,
speaking about the differences between Brit-
ish colonialism and American expansion with
other students from Estonia and Germany or
being uncertain of why philanthropic gifts to
higher education are less common in the U.K. I
was being asked to see difference through the
guise of an otherwise unusual identity - to
truly experience myself as an American.
When I put all these questions together
and reason why Black History Month in Brit-
ain focuses on black American achievement, I
also wonder why there is limited representa-
tion of Latinos in Britain, or even questions of
identity and immigration. I was often curious
about the concerns of nationhood and ethnic-
ity when exploring why a disproportionate
amount of London's underclass is preoccupied
with the Southeast Asian experience.
Being in London was helpful. My experi-
ences in that city, similar to the one I had in
southern India, helped me think about the
definition of nationhood, the imagination and
local reality of citizenship, and the different
visions of globalization. When put together,
all these experiences both confuse and inspire
All this and more has led me to further
explore the symbolic meaning and realities of
the American Dream.
Brittany Smith is an LSA Senior.
Twenty-six years after the inaugural observance
of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the question has to be
asked: Are we - the self-proclaimed greatest, most cul-
turally diverse, accepting and modern country on Earth
- doing justice to Dr. King's brilliance and bravery?
The answer is a complex one, with varying degrees
of yes and no. On the one hand, public, professional and
educational segregation are no longer legally permit-
ted in almost all cases. Every American has an inalien-
able, and too rarely utilized, right to vote. A major
culture shift has occurred which has eliminated per-
sonal racism, though sectors of the country still lag.
Well, that's good, but we can do better. Restoring basic
human rights doesn't offset hundreds of years of legal-
ized slavery, discrimination and persecution. I certainly
don't claim to know what will, but it appears we're mov-
ing further and further away from the answer.
People like to think of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
as a giant reset button - once it was clicked, every-
thing became fine and dandy. Beside organizations like
the NAACP and Congress of Racial Equality, large-
scale movements for civil equality seem unnecessar-
ily outdated, as if the 1964 Act could somehow remedy
decades of disenfranchisement and exclusion from
higher education, political and professional arenas.
It couldn't, and mainstream politics and scholarship
need to reflect America's structural inequalities.
While the ancestors of white people were given
financial, academic and professional opportunities,
African-Americans were enslaved and subsequently
rejected by society. Though African-Americans' strug-
gle has been the longest, most pronounced and severe,
many minorities have endured similar plights.
Imagine a footrace. When the race begins, only
white people are allowed to run. Hours in, everyone
realizes African Americans and other minorities have
a right to run too, and officials let them enter. The
officials argue that the race is now equal and base all
rules and regulations off of the assumed equality, even
though whites have already been running for hours.
In the U.S., people who were under-educated and ill-
equipped to succeed were thrust into a system that had
rejected them for years. Minorities had little academic,
financial or professional foundation because they had
always been excluded from those institutions. Capital-
ism only functions justly when everyone is given equal
opportunity, and that's not happening right now.
This is quickly turning into a sociology paper, so I'll
make my point. Given knowledge of these inequities,
one would assume that a nation as progressive as ours
would work to bring about equality. But take one look
at the GOP's star lineup for the upcoming presidential
election and it's clear this isn't the case.
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) wants to eliminate five cab-
inet-level departments - Energy, Commerce, Housing
and Urban Development, Interior and Education. He'd
also like to cut the Federal Reserve, the Department
of Health and Human Services, the Department of
Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management
Agency, Interstate Commerce Commission and the
IRS. Alright, that last one can go.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Former
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney aren't as cut-happy
as Ron the Ripper, but they'd both make significant
cuts in social services. All of the candidates would
repeal President Barack Obama's health care plan and
abolish the Consumer Protection Agency. Not to men-
tion they hate many forms of welfare.
Libertarianism and Tea Party politics are domi-
nating the economic policies of the GOP, whose only
concern seems to be low taxes. They hail capitalism as
the ultimate adjudicator - a perfect system that natu-
rally and fairly delegates all resources. They say that
the markets will deal with healthcare and education.
But we live in a country where only a handful of peo-
ple control each market, and too few have the oppor-
tunity to enter them. It's true that every department
and every facet of the government has inefficiencies,
but abandoning social services is abandoning people -
people whom the markets couldn't care less about.
Ideally, everyone could compete in the economy
and we'd have fair prices, efficient production, tech-
nological development and all of those fun things that
hardcore capitalists promise. But ideals are just ideals,
and reality is more important. Republicans value their
ideology more than the actual state of things, which
The unfortunate reality of our proud country is that
far too many people are excluded from economic and
political opportunities, and capitalism in its current
form isn't a fix. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his life
for the betterment of mankind. A quarter of a cen-
tury after a holiday honoring his life was established,
Republicans can't agree to make millionaires give an
extra 5 percent of their paychecks? That's not progress.
People need the government and all of the services it
provides. And after hundreds of years of brutally inhu-
mane treatment, I think it's the least we can do.
Sam Myers is an LSA Freshman.