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February 02, 2012 - Image 4

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4A - Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4c iidtigan 4:atil
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com
ASHLEY GRIESSHAMMER
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 publiceditor@michigandaily.com.
Stop and th ink
Detroit needs to carefully consider drastic cuts
Detroit has once again been forced to make budget cuts, and
this time the fat-trimming is expected to occur within the
week. Last Monday, the Detroit City Council convened to
discuss the city's finances, one week before Republican Gov. Rick Sny-
der's deadline for the city to make budget cuts. In a desperate effort
to avoid being given an emergency financial manager by the state, the
council is looking to privatize services like ambulances, close recre-
ation facilities, increase bus fare and garbage collection fees and merge
its health department with Wayne County's. One week to make cuts
to a city that's been hurting for decades is unreasonable and likely to
hurt most residents. While cuts are necessary, it is essential that this
deadline be extended in order to allow for careful, reasonable deci-
sions that lessen adverse effects on Detroit residents.

Ingenuity of creativity

acebook, Twitter and Google
- these are some of today's
hottest companies that
started off as
ideas; not ideas
planted in your
head by Leon- -
ardo DiCaprio,
but ideas that s
arose from the
culmination of
intelligence, an JASON
open-minded PANG JAO
environment
and polychro-
matic experi-
ences. A sparkle of an idea, or even
a resemblance of an idea inflames,
the rest of one's neurological and
musculoskeletal systems and wires
this person in front of a desk until
the flares turn into a volcanic rup-
ture that gives birth to a multi-bil-
lion dollar company.
An idea is what enables us to
create new blockbuster products,
find cures to diseases and institute
social change. In order for an idea
to survive, we have to foster it with
the right resources and not let the
surroundings of its bearer crush
that idea. Governments have the
responsibility to provide a suitable
environment for creativity, and if
they cannot accomplish this goal,
it is our responsibility, the respon-
sibility of the people, to tell them,
"We want change!"
In Europe, a dearth of innova-
tion has brought some of the once
mightiest nations down to the brink
of bankruptcy. The PIGS countries,
Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain,
gained notoriety as the center of
attention during the European sov-
ereign debt crisis. Creditratingagen-
cies Standard and Poor's, Moody's
Investors Service and Fitch Group
recently downgraded the credit-
worthiness of PIGS. With the added
apparent risk, investors demand
even higher interest rates for hold-
ing bonds issued by PIGS, rendering

it more difficult and expensive for
these nations to raise funds.
As the debt' crisis drags on,
industry experts ask, "Why is this
happening?" Many conclude that
it's the political corruption, the
inept fiscal policies and tax evasion
that led to today's quandary. Now,
with new data from University of
Toronto's Rotman School of Man-
agement, I can confidently say that
a lack of investment in Research &
Development and other innovative
activities are a major potential cul-
prit for the crisis.
PIGS, both in the public and pri-
vate sectors, each spent between
0.58 percent (Greece) and 1.51 per-
cent (Portugal) in R&D activities
as a percentage of GDP in 2008,
which lagged significantly behind
the averages of the European Union
(1.9 percent), the United States (2.76
percent) and Japan (3.44 percent).
According to the Global Creativity
Index Report of 2011, which mea-
sures a country's technology, tal-
ent and tolerance levels (the 3Ts),
the PIGS nations lag in at least two
of the three metrics. For example,
Greece ranked ninth out of 82 in
the education and creative class but
lacked the tolerant environment and
technological infrastructure needed
for retaining its talent. Spain ranked
sixthout of81for tolerance ofminor-
ities and LGBTQ members in its
communitybuttrailed intechnology
and talent. When compared with the
per-capita GDP of countries, GCI
shows a correlation of 0.82, indicat-
ing a strong link between creativity
and economic prosperity.
The United States, which ranks
second in GCI behind Sweden, has
the world's highest GDP. But with
industry-driven economies like
those of China and India shifting
employment opportunities abroad,
we must look for ways to catalyze
the growth of our economy if we
wish to harbor and improve upon
our success story.

. In his speech in Ann Arbor last
Friday, President Barack Obama said
he wished to bring back the manu-
facturing jobs from abroad. With all
due respect, I think we ought to stop
thinking about what we can take
back and focus on what we can make
anew. Iamspeakingaboutnewentre-
preneurial start-ups like Facebook
and Apple, new research centers like
those established by Pfizer and Ford
and new opportunities for the people
of this country to innovate. If we
enrich the economy with a wealth of
new ideas, we will create a demand
The PIGS
are stalling
innovation.
for jobs so great that the free market
and its constituents will have to hire
domestically. The Obama adminis-
tration and Congress should seek
ways to further this cause, includ-
ing the establishment of a long-term
R&D tax incentive plan, the creation
of a bureaucracy-free business land-
scape thatpromotes small businesses
and start-ups, and scholarships that
reward students based on their cre-
ative and problem-solvingskills.
Obama said University students
know how to "make" things. We
damn right know how to "make"
things - from world-class solar cars
to renowned search engines, from
fissionable materials to informa-
tion theory. I am proud to say that
we have one of the most formidable
student bodies in terms of talents and
enthusiasm. We have all the will and
the right ideas. The question is, is
America ready to listen?
- Jason Pang Jao can be
reached at pangjao@umich.edu.

0

0

Though Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is count-
ing on substantial savings through conces-
sions with unions, City Council is not so
confident. It's likely that Bing's current pro-
posed plan will only reduce the city's budget
by $44 million - far short of the $102 mil-
lion necessary to avoid an emergency man-
ager. However, the City Council's job is to
respond to its residents' needs, not to virtu-
ally disappear for the sake of reaching bud-
get cuts. On Monday, Council President Pro
Tem Gary Brown justified the hastiness of
the belt-tightening and affirmed that Detroit
is "really out of time."
It's certainly true that budget cuts need to
happen quickly in order to avoid the appoint-
ment of an emergency manager who is fiscal-
ly in charge of the city. However, the budget
should not shave off essential services like
garbage pick-up to residents nor should it
employ lay-offs, of which another 1,300 may
occur. There are other ways of implement-
ing budget cuts, like bringing back the State
Revenue Sharing Program. This program
redistributes sales tax collected in the state

to local governments. A program like this
would not only benefit Detroit now, but could
also help other distressed cities in the future.
If cuts are not implemented, Snyder will
appoint an emergency financial manager
for Detroit or will form a consent agreement
that would involve shared fiscal responsibil-
ity with city officials. However, the proposed
partnership has also been met with opposi-
tion. Since the mayor and council would
essentially be given the ability to institute
fast-track changes in how the city is run -
such as changing administration details or
privatizing city services, it seems that the
option only differs from that of the emergen-
cy manager in its bureaucratic makeup. Both
the City Council and an emergency financial
manager would have the power to greatly
impact the lives of Detroiters.
Impulsive decisions that focus only on the
short-term can become huge problems in the
long run. The Detroit City Council, Bing and
Snyder should all look for ways to extend the
deadline and come up with solutions that are
minimally harmful to Detroit's residents.

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Laura Argintar, Kaan Avdan, Ashley Griesshammer, Nirbhay Jain, Jesse Klein,
Patrick Maillet, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Harsha Panduranga, Timothy Rabb, Adrienne Roberts, Vanessa
Rychlinski, Sarah Skaluba, Seth Soderborg, Caroline Syms, Andrew Weiner

6

Numbers can lie

JOSEPH VARILONE I
SAFE supports humanrights

In the Jan. 23 article "Viewpoint: Engage
in Productive Discourse," Students Allied for
Freedom and Equality, a student organization
dedicated to the liberation and self-determi-
nation of the Palestinian people, was unfairly
slandered by its author Max Heller, who inap-
propriately insinuated false things about SAFE
as an organization and what we stand for. Hell-
er's accusation of SAFE propagating myths is
directly contrary to the first-hand experiences
and testimonies of the Palestinians themselves,
and his historical analysis is predicated on
colonialist assumptions.
Heller contends that it is "dishonest to claim
the Israeli government is racist and expelling
Israeli Arabs from their homes." This is what
made the Jewish state of Israel possible - the
1948 expulsion of more than 700,000 Pales-
tinians from their homes during what Pales-
tinians refer to as al-Nakba (the catastrophe).
To this day, expelled Israeli Arabs continue to
speak up about this reality. Perhaps more egre-
gious is that Israel and the Jewish National
Fund attempt to erase the record of al-Nakba
by planting trees over the sites of old Palestin-
ian villages. It's nothing more than a falsehood
to claim that Palestinians were given a chance
to live peacefully within Israeli borders. A
quick look through the writings of David Ben-
Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, reveals
that his plans were nothing less than the com-
plete ethnic cleansing and expulsion of Pales-
tinians from their land to create a Jewish state.
That's precisely what he did.
Heller's historical summary and analysis are
predicated on the assumption that Jews were
entitled to their own state in the land of Pales-
tine, and since Palestinians were denying them
this privilege, they deserved what they got.
But why would anyone allow a foreign people
to take ownership of their land and establish
a state in which the indigenous people were
not welcome? This is the reality: Israel, like
the United States, is a nation founded upon
colonialists and oppression. It is founded
upon the killing and expulsion of indigenous
peoples from their lands. It is founded upon
entitlement, privilege, supremacy and ethnic
cleansing. The Palestinians were never morally
obliged to give Jews any of their land, just as
the Potawatomi, Tolowa and the Lakota were
never morally obliged to give up their land to
European colonialism. All future peacemaking
attempts must be viewed in this light. Israel
has always failed to recognize of Nakba and
the Palestinian right of return to their lands

that were stolen. This implies that what Israel
defends as necessary for national security is in
reality its way of maintaining hegemony, colo-
nialism and dominance in the region.
SAFE stands for human rights. We not only
oppose Israeli colonialism and racism, but also
the oppression of other people, wherever it may
manifest itself. We don't condone violence and
we condemn anti-Semitism, but Heller inap-
propriately insinuates the contrary when he
refers to Hamas and Fatah as terrorist organi-
zations and subsequently questions our claim
that we do not support or affiliate with them.
We strongly affirm our statement that we do
not officially support any political party, be it
American, Israeli or Palestinian. This distracts
discourse and resistance from the root causes
of Palestinian oppression. Heller implies that
since Palestinians have elected these parties
to power, they have no right to self-determi-
nation. But this is akin to saying that since the
Democrats and Republicans are both incompe-
tent, in my own opinion, the American people
do not have the right to self-determination.
What if Palestinians aren't fond of either Fatah
or Hamas, but view one of them as the lesser
of two evils? Does this sound familiar? All
peoples have the right to self-determination.
If Israel is so democratic, then why do they
oppose the right of the Palestinian people to
determine their own future?
Israel's supporters consistently oppose
so-called unilateral Palestinian acts of resis-
tance and self-determination, as they did dur-
ing the Palestinians' UN statehood bid last
fall, and this is reflected in Heller's response
to SAFE's walkout of Israeli politician Ish-
mael Khaldi. Supporters of Israel consistent-
ly oppose any form of Palestinian resistance
that they do not have complete control over,
such as the statehood bid, walkout protests
and humanitarian flotillas. They only sup-
port dialogue, which has failed to achieve
Israeli recognition of the Palestinian right
of return. As stated in our Dec. 11 viewpoint,
we don't think dialogue with one's oppres-
sor leads to liberation. Would explicitly rac-
ist U.S. laws have ended if Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr. sat down with white leadership and
had a quick chat? Would British imperialism
in India have ended if Gandhi sat down with
royalty and asked them to leave? We don't
think so, and for the same reasons, we know
that dialogue will not free Palestine.
Joseph Varilone is an LSA senior.

lection years always feature
numbers that are supposed
to show the accomplish-
ments or errors
of a particu-
lar politician.
On Jan. 6, the
Bureau of Labor '
and Statistics
released its lat-
est unemploy-
ment data, and MATTHEW
politicians have ZABKA
been quick to
present these
data as beneficial to their support-
ed policies. Both President Barack
Obama and Republican Gov. Rick
Snyder have recently cited drop-
ping unemployment rates as a sign
that their economic policies are
working.
While it may seem that a drop in
the unemployment rate is a posi-
tive sign for the economy, this isn't
always the case. Some politicians
attempt to exploit such misunder-
standings of unemployment num-
bers, and it's therefore important
that one understands what unem-
ployment data says so one can accu-
rately judge politicians' claims.
All else constant, it's certainly
true that if enough jobs are created,
the unemployment rate will drop.
Economists say normal population
growth requires the economy to
add between 80,000 and 100,000
jobs per month to maintain a
steady unemployment rate If the
economy adds significantly more
than 100,000 jobs in a month, the
unemployment rate will drop, but
if fewer than 80,000 jobs are added
in a month, the unemployment rate
will rise.
With this information, a politi-
cian's claim that his policies added
jobs, but not enough to keep up with
population growth, should not be
sufficient to impress voters.
Obama's campaign released a

graph on Facebook on Jan. 3 that
shows the number of private sec-
tor jobs added per month. The
campaign claims the graph shows
Obama's strong record of job cre-
ation and specifically touts 21
months of growth. Ignore for a
moment that the graph examines
only a cross section of the econo-
my; including the entire economy
would have yielded a less flattering
picture. The graph still shows that
in several of the 21 months, fewer
jobs were created than necessary
to keep up with population growth.
This is no reason to brag, but a gen-
eral misunderstanding of economic
data that allows the Obama cam-
paign the opportunity to present
the graph as positive material.
To avoid falling for a politician's
slight of hand, understanding the
definitions used in any set of data is
key. The BLS defines the labor force
as anyone who is at least 16 years of
age and is either working or actively
seeking work. The unemployment
rate is then defined as the percentage
of the labor force that is unemployed.
By definition, a drop in the unem-
ployment rate only means that a
smaller percentage of the work force
is unemployed. Should a large num-
ber of unemployed people stop look-
ing for work and, by definition, leave
the workforce, the unemployment
rate will also drop. In this situation,
the unemployment rate looks better,
even though the country's economic
situation has worsened.
This unfortunately appears to be
the case for much of the post-reces-
sion economy. Even though few
jobs were created during the poorly
named "recovery summer" in 2010,
the United States's unemployment
rate was mostly constant. This was
because discouraged unemployed
people left the labor force.
Michigan's situation is particu-
larly noteworthy in this regard and
gives another example of a politician

using numbers that should impress
no one. Snyder said Michigan's
unemployment rate has dropped
below 10 percent for the first time
since he took office in his State of the
State address last month. But accord-
ing to the BLS, the number of jobs
in Michigan has remained almost
unchanged. Rather than new jobs
lowering the unemployment rate,
frustrated unemployed workers'
decisions to stop looking for work
have reduced Michigan's work force
and thus driven down Michigan's
unemployment rate.
Misuse of data
is more common
than you think.
This column only contains a
brief introduction to understanding
unemployment rates. Other factors,
like seasonal variation, can also
affect unemployment data. While
understanding the definitions
used is important, nobody can be
an expert on everything, and with
so many politicians trying to mis-
represent data for their advantage,
how can one accurately judge the
state of the economy?
The answer is to trust experts.
Voters should not give politicians a
free pass for misrepresenting eco-
nomic data. Listening to economists,
such as the ones regularly consulted
in The Wall Street Journal and The
New York Times, can serve as an
important fact-check against politi-
cians' economic claims.
-Matthew Zabka can be reached
at mzbka@umich.edu. Follow him
on twitter at @MatthewZabka.

60

6
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he The Complete Spectrum: Chris Dyer discusses an LGBTQ
od j MYouTubevideo in Europe.
p UGo to michigandaily.com/blogs/The Podium

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