4A - Wednesday, March 7, 2012
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
4A - Wednesday, March 7, 2012 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
e iid ig*an Biy
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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.
A bill for safet
Medical amnesty bill should be signed into law
bill in the state House of Representatives that will exempt
minors from Minor in Possession of Alcohol charges if they're
elping another inebriated person get medical treatment
passed the House yesterday by an overwhelming majority - only
four legislators voted against it. The legislation, House Bill 4393, will
now proceed to the Senate where it will hopefully be passed and then
signed into law. If passed, minors would be able to seek medical atten-
tion due to overconsumption of alcohol for themselves and others
without facing legal repercussions. This medical amnesty legislation
would promote safer behavior around the state, and at the University.
The state Senate and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder should follow the
House's lead and enact the legislation as expediently as possible.
Turning to treatment
W hen a person has a
problem with alcohol
serious enough to land
them in front
of a judge, the
is to treatment
- rehab, coun-
seling and sup-
The reasons for
this approach SETH
are sensible. SODERBORG
ics a second
chance makes it more likely that
they will overcome their addic-
tion and become productive mem-
bers of society. Alcohol abusers are
imprisoned only when their sub-
stance abuse problem has put oth-
ers directly in harm's way. Because
we recognize that alcohol abuse can
afflict spouses and caregivers; we
prefer responses that make it pos-
sible for those family structures to
continue, at least in the long term.
Our approach to alcohol abuse
emphasizes harm reduction. We see
it as a public health problem, and
recognize that some responses cre-
ate as many problems as they solve.
Sometimes, the legal system
treats users of "hard" drugs the
same way. But all too often, our
first recourse in dealing with abuse
of these controlled substances
has been to imprison users. For 30
years, the national anti-drug poli-
cy paradigm has been to imprison
without regard to the broader con-
sequences of that punishment.
This prison-first approach is
tremendously costly and has done
significant harm to entire com-
munities. We need to do better.
And there is good reason to think
that treating drug abuse more like
alcohol abuse will reduce addiction
while minimizing harm.
The need for a new approach is
readily apparent when one com-
pares the United States to other
countries around the world. Ameri- incarcerated than hold a bachelor's
can prisons hold one-quarter of the degree. That's reprehensible, espe-
world's incarcerated people. That's cially in light of federally funded
an astonishing number, especially research that suggests white men
when one considers that our coun- are more likely to have used drugs
try is home to only 4.55 percent of than black men.
the world's population. At 753 pris- The right way forward for poli-
oners per 100,000 people, the rate of cymakers would be to focus on
incarceration in the US is the high- minimizing the harm drugs do to
est in the world - almost 1.5 times communities. That requires doing
greater than Russia's, more than much more to help drug abusers quit,
twice Iran's, three times greater refraining from imprisoning small-
than Brazil's, six times China's, and time users and continuing to educate
more than 10 times greater than the young people. It also means continu-
rate in most Nordic countries. ing to combat drug trafficking.
Non-violent drug offenders are a
huge proportion of the US incarcer-
ated population, Where most coun-
tries remanddrugusers totreatment, Prison is not a
American druglaws incorporate sen- .
tencing guidelines that require jail publi 1health
time for even innocuous drug offend- c
ers. These laws culminated in a rule tamp ogn tool.
that mandated life imprisonment
after three federal drug convictions
of any kind, and they began with the
Reagan-era "war on drugs." Since Many countries treat drug
the 1980s, both political parties have offenses very differently. Portu-
embraced "tough-on-crime" poll- gal decriminalized all drug use
cies that reflected irrational fear of in 2005, limiting enforcement to
crime - and politicians' fear of being anti-trafficking campaigns while
seen as "soft" - rather than rational expanding treatment resources.
analysis of how best to reduce drug Drug use there has diminished. If
use. Policymakers who attempted to a country takes an approach oppo-
weigh the social costs of punishment site to our own and finds success,
against the costs of drug use were 'we should re-evaluate our own
ignored. policies, especially when our own
It's extraordinary to see how approach does so much collateral
these laws have changed the Amer- harm. So far, careful evaluation has
ican prison population. The share rarely informed national drug poli-
of people incarcerated in the United cy. It's time for that to change.
States averaged around 100 people Alcohol abuse cases have already
per 100,000 from the 1920s until the shown us how to deal with addic-
late-1970s. In the 'early 1980s, the tion while minimizing social harm.
rate of increase in the incarcerated We should apply those lessons
population jumped precipitously, by making treatment the center
reaching 200 per 100,000 around of national drug policy - prison
1983, 600 by the early-1990s, and should never be the primary tool of
750 by the mid-2000s. a public health campaign.
Our harsh drug laws have helped
create a society in which a black
man who came of age in the late- - Seth Soderborg can be reached at
'80s or early-'90s was almost twice email@example.com. Follow him on
as likely, by 1999, to have been twitter at @thedailyseth.
Medical amnesty would encourage stu-
dents to seek medical attention without the
concern of receiving an MIP. Similar laws
have been enacted in other states, and they've
proven to save lives. Despite increasing
admissions to hospitals for alcohol-related
injuries, there have been no signs of increased
alcohol consumption. The bill will help stu-
dents, and delaying its passage any longer
puts more students at risk.
In January, LSA junior Aditya Sathi, vice
speaker of Central ,Student Government's
Student Assembly, introduced a resolutioh
in support of a medical amnesty policy at the
University. Sathi's work paid off, and CSG
was able to promote the bill in the state Leg-
islature. Students must continue to push for
complete legislation to create a safer com-
munity. Drinking is a part of the University's
culture that isn't going to go away any time
soon. Instead of punishing individuals who
seek help, medical amnesty will protect them.
College Scorecard can keep universities honest
President Barack Obama's speech at the University in Janu-
ary focused on the main issue pertinent to college students:
the costs and benefits of an education. He proposed the idea
of a comprehensive college scorecard. Applying to colleges, decid-
ing which school to attend and paying for an education is stressful
enough without having to scour websites for accurate information
to compare schools. The introduction of Obama's College-Scorecard
would benefit prospective students and their families, but only if
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Laura Argintar, KaanAvdanLAshley 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
the information is accurate.
The College Scorecard is supposed to be an
easy and effective way to compare the price,
graduation rates, statistics on student loans,
and the number of students attending in debt.
Some even provide potential earnings statis-
tics. Hours spent flipping through the pages
of the Insider's Guide to Colleges or clicking
through collegeprowler.com could be elimi-
nated with the introduction of this scorecard.
However, the recent influx of stories about
colleges inflating their statistics in the hopes
of raising their national rank makes this
type of continued comparison a cause for
concern. A senior official in the Claremont
University Consortium revealed that he had
been inaccurately reporting SAT scores by
10 points or encouraging students to retake
the SAT after already being admitted. Even
graduate schools such as Cooley Law School
became caught up in the ranking frenzy and
lied about statistics to earn a higher spot.
The College Scorecard needs to contain true
information and not just be another forum
for college advertisement.
With truthful information, the College
Scorecard will help people all over the country
choose an education that is affordable and of
MICHAEL SPAETH I
Generation of compromise
Last week, Republican Senator Olympia
Snowe of Maine announced her intentions to
leave the Senate due to her frustration with
the ongoing political gridlock in Washington.
She was a member of a dying breed: a moderate
willingto side with the opposing political party
in order to reach a compromise that would best
serve the interests of the American people.
Ultimately, she was unwilling to tolerate the
lack of compromise any longer.
In an opinion piece in the Washington Post
following her announcement, she wrote, "our
leaders must understand that there is not only
strength in compromise, courage in concili-
ation and honor in consensus-building - but
also a political reward for following these
tenets. That reward will be real only if the peo-
ple demonstrate their desire for politicians to
come together after the planks in their respec-
tive party platforms do not prevail." It's wise
for us to take this message to heart during the
2012 campaign and beyond.
A CBS/New York Times poll conducted in
January found that 85 percent of Americans
wanted to see Democrats and Republicans get
things done, even if that meant compromis-
ing some of their positions. However, Snowe's
parting words are likely to fall on deaf ears in
Washington. Most politicians in Washington
probably aren't going to end the gridlock soon.
But eventually, the current members of Con-
gress will leave, and those vacancies will be
filled by members of our generation.
We must be the generation that embraces
consensus and compromise even if it comes
with personal costs. The real battle for the
soul of American political discourse will not be
fought today, tomorrow or next year. It will be
fought on our terms, and we will win.
How will we win this battle? In his 2010 Yale
Class Day speech, former President Bill Clinton
gave us a hint when he said, "I force myself to
listen to people who disagree with me." This
is not an earth-shattering revelation, but hon-
estly, how often do we actively search for per-
spectives that contradict our own for purposes
other than mocking or denouncing the other
point of view?For most of us, it's not veryoften.
All of us should be able to find at least one
political position that opposes our own and be
able to agree with it. These areas of agreement
can be difficult to pinpoint while we're distract-
ed by the rhetoric of pundits, politicians and
protesters. We won't resolve the fundamental
differences in our political ideologies in the
near future, but in the meantime, if we focus on
finding solutions to the issues on which every-
one can agree, we can make important prog-
ress to improve the lives of many Americans.
Of course, this isn't the only step that must
be taken to end the gridlock in Washington. But
we have to start somewhere, and the best way
to solve an enormous problem is to fix small,
manageable chunks of the problem. Most of us
won't become politicians, but even as private
citizens, we can realize Snowe's vision. Our
generation can clearly demonstrate that we
want politicians to come together if we get in
the habit of finding areas of agreement while
we're still young.
We must have the courage to compro-
mise even at the expense of our own personal
interests, in order to best serve the interests
of everyone. Compromise is manageable, it's
part of our history and it's what the Founding
Fathers intended. So let's get started.
Michael Spaeth is an LSA freshman.
Job-killer. Cemetery for jobs.
The regulatory reign of ter-
as the United
rhetoric of the
candidates, one KILEK
that EPA name-
calling is a prerequisite for the
Republican presidential nomina-
That idea, however, couldn't be
further from the truth. It was Rich-
ard Nixon - a Republican himself
- who established the EPA in 1970.
The first EPA administrator - Wil-
liam D. Ruckelshaus - formerly
served as a Republican in the Indi-
ana House of Representatives. The-
odore Roosevelt, also a Republican,
is often considered America's first
conservation-minded president due
to his campaigns for federal wild-
life preservation. Conservatives
and conservation have never been
This year, though, every leading
Republican nominee in the presi-
dential race either supports a dras-
tic overhaul of the EPA or a complete
termination of its major functions.
Come November, it seems that the
Republican-Democrat divide on
issues regarding environmental
policy will be gargantuan. Presi-
dential candidates on both sides are
treating the EPA's role as a key vot-
ing issue, with Republicans citing
its over-spending and over-regula-
tion, and Obama looking to expand
An October 2011 national survey
conducted by Public Policy Polling
found that 78 percent of Americans
believe that the EPA should hold
corporate polluters accountable for
the pollution they release. Though
bashing the EPA may be what the
Republican party - and its sources
of funding - expects, statistics say
the American public is not eager to
support an anti-EPA GOP candidate.
Even Republican voters are
voicing their discontent over the
extreme anti-EPA stances of their
party's candidates. "Not only are
these positions irresponsible,
they're politically problematic,"
said David Jenkins of Republicans
for Environmental Protection in an
August 2011 The New York Times
article. His organization aims to
restore resource conservation and
environmental protection as key
elements of the Republican Party's
So which Republican candidates
do Jenkins and the rest of America
have to pick from when it comes to
protecting our environment? Well,
there's Mitt Romney who believes
federal law doesn't give the EPA
authority to regulate carbon emis-
sions. There's Rick Santorum who
has condemned the EPA's limits
on mercury from coal-fired power
plants. Next there is Newt Gin-
grich who believes the ineffective
EPA should be replaced with a new
Environmental Solutions Agency.
Which would, according to his
website, "use incentives and work
cooperatively with local govern-
ment and industry to achieve bet-
ter environmental outcomes." He
maintains that, "contrary to popu-
lar belief, America has more energy
than any nation on earth." Finally,
Ron Paul simply feels that the EPA
is unconstitutional because it con-
flicts with private property rights
and therefore should be eliminat-
Obama, on the other hand,
emphasizes the importance of
spending federal funds for environ-
mental protection. "We don't have
to choose between dirty air and
dirty water or a growing economy.
We can make sure that we are doing
right by our environment and, in
fact, putting people back to work
all across America," Obama said in
a Jan. 10 speech to EPA employees.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson
has replied to Republican attacks
with a similar stance, often refer-
encing EPA job creation and the
lives saved by EPA projects. In a
January speech at the annual Ever-
glades Coalition conference, Jack-
son told the Associated Press that
the Clean Air Act has saved hun-
dreds of thousands of lives and in
the long run, it has saved billions of
against the EPA.*
Though the Republican presi-
dential candidates present EPA as
a roadblock to business and Ameri-
can jobs, eliminating the organi-
zation is far from a single-handed
solution to the nation's unemploy-
ment problems. It may, however,
halt environmental initiatives
that our government has fought to
improve over the past 40 years.
I don't doubt that the EPA could
run more efficiently. Under the
Bush and Obama administrations,
our national debt has continued to
skyrocket, and it's time to watch
our federal spending and cut cor-
ners where possible.
But eliminating the EPA is most
definitely not possible. Replacing
our financial debt with environmen-
tal exploitation will only bring about
a different kind of debt - one that
future generations will have to pay
for when searching for clean water,
air and land in the years to come.
- Kristen Kiluk can be reached
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