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March 11, 2013 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-03-11

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4A- Monday, March 11, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4A- Monday, March 11, 2013 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

c4c Michioan [ 43al"Im

Solvency isn't salvation

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


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.
M1sguided management
Emergency financial manager wrong decision for Detroit
n March 1, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder announced his
intentions to appoint an emergency financial manager for
Detroit as a last resort measure to address the city's grave
financial problems. Given the city's struggles with various problems
ranging from its depleted tax base to a crumbling infrastructure, it's
obvious that substantial changes must be made. That being said, all
potential solutions should have been considered before giving broad
powers to someone from outside the current city government. While
Detroit is in desperate need of repair, Snyder's decision to appoint an
emergency financial manager is a shortsighted move that subverts
the democracy of Detroit's institutions and residents.

After decades of decline,
Detroit, Flint and Pontiac
all experienced chronic
drops in aver-
age household
income and
property val-
ues. The steadys
stream of people,
businesses and JAMES
government BRENNAN
going to the
suburbs over urban areas in the
last 50 years has led to crises once
unimaginable in what were Michi-
gan's greatest cities. The failure
has become cyclical, as this loss
in money and increase in poverty
means more crime, worse schools,
fewer services and no funds to fight
these problems.
With Republican Gov. Rick Sny-
der's announcement last week,
Detroit has become the latest city
designated to receive an emergen-
cy financial manager. Emergency
managers have one focus and one
focus only: budgets. Their sole task
is to take a municipality that is in
massive debt and to bring it into
solvency. In simpler terms, an emer-
gency manager's job is to balance
the budget and do so as quickly as
possible. The argument in favor of
such action is that cities in fiscal
crisis have displayed an inability to
manage their own finances over an
extended period and therefore need
the state to intervene.
However, failing cities aren't
experiencing fiscal crises simply
because they're mismanaged by
incompetent local officials. It's .not
a coincidence that Detroit, Flint and
Pontiac, Mich. are some of the state's
poorest areas and are hit hardest
by the state's struggling economy.
Fewer jobs, lower average income

and plummeting property values
resulting in less tax revenue are the
real causes of fiscal crises in cities.
A balanced budget would be nice,
but it won't stimulate the economy.
The state can raise fees and cut ser-
vices all it wants to save money and
eliminate deficits, but without a real
economic recovery, cities will just
continue their cycle of failure and
fall into debt later on.
When an economy is sputtering,
government - whether locat, state
or federal - must spend more money
and cut taxes in order to increase
growth. Spending directly gives
income to people and businesses,
whiletaxcuts allowforthose already
making money to spend and invest
in larger doses. Both of these actions
will result in heavier debt and defi-
cits short term, but the resulting
natural increases in employment,
income and investment will mean
higher tax revenues overall, and, in
the long term, a balanced budget.
Emergency financial managers go
directly against the interests of an
economic recovery. Austerity mea-
sures will only harm the economy
in the long run while improving
fiscal solvency in the short term.
Less spending means less income
for government workers or contrac-
tors, while increased taxes take
money out of consumers' pockets.
The reduced services and increased
taxes result in residents paying
more money and not getting much
in return. This makes no sense eco-
nomically and may contribute to
higher crime and lower standards of
living if money is taken away from
police or infrastructure funding -
the case in cities like Flint. ,
Detroit, Pontiac and Flint are
struggling right now. With less
money to attract business, improve
education and fund key services,
residents of these cities are losing
opportunities to succeed every day.

Detroit has been unable to effectively col-
lect revenue from its taxpayers. The constantly
decreasing population has only added to this
problem - a decade ago, there were over a mil-
lion residents; today about 700,000. The city
alsohas alonghistory ofinefficientgovernment
and officials misusing funds - notably former
Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. State money will be
essential to funding programs that can turn the
city around. But bringing in someone with total
control over the finances is a step too far.
It may seem that bringing in an emergency
financial manager would be the quick fix to a
public sector plagued by more than $14 billion
in long-term liabilities. However, other cities
in Michigan, such as Allen Park, Pontiac and
Flint have emergency financial managers and
have shown little improvement. For example,
in 2002 Flint went into a financial emergency
and Ed Kurtz served as the manager until
2004. Kurtz left Flint in 2004, claiming it
was no longer in an emergency and that there
would be a $6.1 million budget surplus in
2005. However, the prosperity didn't last and
the city struggled with a deficit of $6.8 million
by 2008. Once again, Snyder appointed Kurtz
as Flint's emergency manager in 2012. The
Flint City Council has proposed to move away
from having an emergency financial manager
despite still facing huge deficits and a crum-
bling infrastructure. Detroit is much larger

than these cities, and it's unclear whether an
emergencymanager would prove effective in a
city - a serious gamble.
One of the bigger concerns of the emer-
gency financial manager is that it strips away
the autonomy of Detroit and gives power to
an official who most likely doesn't have the
same level of knowledge of the city as the citi-
zens of Detroit, who have first-hand accounts
of the changes that are needed. With this
change, the citizens will no longer have a
say in the way their city is governed. The
appointment of an emergency financial man-
ager was a short-term and desperate solution,
as exemplified by Flint. Going forward, who-
ever the appointed emergency financial man-
ager is must work closely with the mayor and
city council.
Without action, financial failure for Detroit
is imminent. Clearly, Snyder had to step in and
do something. However, his choice to appoint
an emergency financial manager hasn't been
met with complete praise, as evidenced by
Proposal 1 - in which giving expanded pow-
ers to an emergency manager was voted down
- and the recent controversy surrounding this
decision. In order for the emergency finan-
cial manager to have success in Detroit, they
must work closely with the people that know
Detroit best, instead of making rash decisions
that may harm thecity in the long run.

Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. Letters should be few
the writer's full name and University affiliation. Send letters to tothe
is worth

While government certainly isn't a
long-term job creator, public funding
for certain aspects of life is simply
non-negotiable. Schools need to pro-
vide students with an equal chance to
go to college or trade school and get
a job or start a business. Roads and
public transportation must be main-
tained and improved so that low-
income residents can get to work and
improve their standing in life, while
police need adequate funding and
staffing to help prevent crime and
improve a city's standard of living.
The people of
Detroit need
opportunities to
No one is entitled to an easylife, to
a job or to money. But no one should
be condemned to a life of permanent
hardship and struggle. The people
of Detroit, Pontiac and Flint are no
different than anyone else. They're
no better and no worse. Given the
same opportunities as the rest of us,
residents of these struggling cities
would succeed all the same. Slash- *
ing budgets and increasing fees
and taxes will only harm already
disadvantaged people further. As a
state, we have to advocate for equal
opportunity for anyone, anywhere.
And in doing so, we must recognize
those of us who aren't giventhe same
chances. Opportunities for growth
and improvement won't be produced
by a balanced budget, but rather by
the hard work of committed people
when given the chance to succeed.
-James Brennan can be
reached at jmbthree@umich.edu.
er than 300 words and must include
e time
They're all the same."
That's OK. At the scale of the Uni-
versity, it's true that nearly everyone
involved with student government
wants the same thing: to make this
campus a better place for every stu-
dent. As cliche as it sounds, there's
a lot of weight to that statement.
Wherever there are politics, cyni-
cism closely follows. It doesn't nec-
essarily matter who you vote for.
Sure, everyone has differences,
and that's why these elections can
become so hotly contested. Ulti-
mately, though, it's more important
We all have a say.
But only a quarter
of us will act.
that students participate in the elec-
tions and vote. Period.
All students have a say in this
matter. A majority of us will see the
campaigning on Facebook and the
chalking across the Diag. But hardly
a quarter of us will act on what we
see in two weeks, and an even small-
er proportion will care enough dur-
ing the rest of the year to see what
student government is up to.

We go to one of the greatest uni-
versities in the world, and we con-
tinue to produce some of the world's
most ambitious alumni every year.
CSG not only provides a powerful
platform for developing the skills
of those who are involved in it, but
it also seeks to nurture all students
on this campus and help them to
be safe and successful during their
time here and beyond. On March 27
or 28, I'll show that I care and will
cast my votes. Will you?
- Hema Karunakaram can be
reached at khema@umich.edu.

Kaan Avdan, Sharik Bashir, Barry Belmont, James Brennan, Eli Cahan, Jesse Klein,
Melanie Kruvelis, Maura Levine, Patrick Maillet, Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald,
Jasmine McNenny, Harsha Nahata, Adrienne Roberts, Paul Sherman,
Sarah Skaluba, Michael Spaeth, Luchen Wang, Derek Wolfe
Porn's only part of the problem

If you keep up on all things Scandinavian -
as I'm sure you all do - then you're well aware
that Iceland's government is looking for a way
to ban Internet porn. Or, at least the violent
kind. Whatever that means.
There are already regulations in place that
limit the kind of sexual material that can be
distributed in print, but Ogmundur Jonasson,
Iceland's interior minister, has proposed that
those regulations be expanded to online porn.
In an interview with The Guardian, Halla
Gunnarsdottir, the political adviser to the
interior minister, seems to sum up the goal of
the minister's proposal:
"When a 12-year-old types 'porn' into
Google, he or she is not going to find photos of
naked women out on a country field, but very
hardcore and brutal violence."
Clearly, Gunnarsdottir doesn't think much
of her country's teens' collective ability to
search for Internet porn. Butlet's say Icelandic
12-year-olds actually type "porn" into Google
(which, by the way, is like going to Times
Square for a slice of pizza) to get their smut.
Want to see if Gunnarsdottir's claims are true?
Try for yourself - you'll see that what comes
up isn't exactly "hardcore and brutal vio-
lence," even with SafeSearch off. Now, what
do you get when you search for "hardcore and
brutal violence?" Something considerably less
sexy. And how are we going to deal with the
gray area that is hardcore porn that takes place
in a field? What then, Halla, what then?
But that's a conversation for another time.
The issue here, or at least the one I'd like to
point out, is that censoring the Internet as an
attempt to protect children is misguided. Any-
thing "bad" that happens online has a signifi-
cantly worse counterpart in the real world. On
the Internet, some people watch child porn.
That's bad. But in the real world, some people
make child porn. That's worse. Online, crimi-

nals steal innocent victims' personal infor-
mation and use that data to commit fraud. In
the real world, criminals steal personal infor-
mation and use that data to commit murder.
Worse yet, some people use the Internet to
illegally download music by the band Nickle-
back. Worst of all, some people are the band
See what I mean? If you want to protect
your children, Iceland, teach them how to
cope with violence, both online and in the
real world. If the fear is that children will see
depictions of violent sex acts and then go on
to commit acts of sexual violence, then the
solution is to teach them not to commit acts
of sexual violence. Attempting to remove the
inspiration isn't enough. And if Iceland's gov-
ernment is simply worried that their little
angels will stumble onto objectionable Inter-
net content out of youthful innocence, then
these adults have a larger task than they orig-
inally thought. Have you seen the Internet
lately? It's disgusting!
In any democratic society, the debate over
what constitutes free expression is a healthy
one to have. However, Iceland isn't attempt-
ing to stifle expression, but merely consump-
tion. If the government really has a problem
with "hardcore and brutal violence" in por-
nography - that is, if it takes issue with the
mistreatment of women in under-regulated
adult entertainment industries - then it
should make attempts to protect actors from
unfair and unsafe working conditions. If,
however, Icelandic officials are just having a
hard time differentiating between depictions
of violence and actual violence itself, maybe
they should get offline and into the real
world. There's plenty of objectionable content
for them to grapple with out there.
Jacob Fromm is an LSA senior.

March 27 and 28 are
specially marked on
my Google Calendar.
Although I'm
sure my Face-
book newsfeed
won't fail to
blow up with
constant pleas,
I want to mlake
sure I don't for-
get. Iknow I'll
see the creative HEMA
new hashtags E
for the occasion KARUNA-
as I scroll down KARAM
Twitter, but I
don't want to
somehow still miss it.
So what's the big deal with those
two dates? It's the Central Student
Government elections, and I have to
cast my votes.
Unfortunately, fewer than 20 per-
cent of you are likely to do the same.
I haven't been bribed by anyone to
support CSG; I'm completely unaf-
filiated with student government
in any way and just genuinely take
interest in its actions. Whenever this
is discussed, however, I'm met with
raised eyebrows. My friends involved
with CSG go out of their way to keep
me in the loopbecause too often their
efforts fall on deaf ears. After all, isn't
it weird that I actually care?
A few quick clicks through Wol-
verine Access tells me that $7.19 of
my tuition this term alone went to
CSG. That's the cost of a large pizza,
and, with more than 40,000 under-
graduate and graduate students at
the University, that adds up. This
money helps student organizations
to carry out their passions, it puts
on awesome events like pep rallies
before home football games and it
helps students get to the airport for
cheap through the airBus service.
But CSG is about more than just
the funding. In the past year alone,

members of CSG have aimed to make
our campus safer and more comfort-
able. Current CSG President Man-
ish Parikh has followed through on
one of his campaign promises for a
24-hour cafe, and now Bert's at the
Shapiro Undergraduate Library does
not shut down at any time between
Sunday morning and Thursday
night. Several representatives have
also played a key role in getting the
medical amnesty bill through the
Michigan legislature, indicating a
commitment to the safety of not only
students on this campus but all over
the state.
So, our student government lead-
ers make some pretty big things hap-
pen. Good for them, and let them
do their thing - right? It's not that
simple. American politics functions
on popular involvement and CSG is
no different. CSG is made up of an
executive board, commissions and
an assembly of representatives from
each school. But without student
body support, it's not always clear
whom exactly these representatives
represent. Involvement in campus
political organizations is often a
stepping-stone into future political
careers for many of these students.
Why not at least help them along
their goals while we can, especially if
it's as easy as reading a few platforms
and clicking a button?
Fine. CSG can be productive, and
the people involved in it are really
passionate. But what about all these
parties? forUM, momentUM, you-
MICH - it'll take a lot of time to fig-
ure out the platforms of each of them
before the election. Maybe we'll see
more parties pop up (with more cre-
ative plays on the University's name
to boot). Maybe, like last year, we'll
see an independent candidate push
to head CSG. And after all the cam-
paigning, research and propaganda,
many students may wind up at the
cynical conclusion: "There's no point.


is inaccurate depiction
As one of the Israeli soldiers who
spoke, we'would like to correct misin-
formation in the viewpoint "Human-
izing the Inhumane" (2/27/2013).
I never called the pregnant
woman who came to a checkpoint
in an ambulance a terrorist. We said
that terrorists use women and chil-
dren and we're not always certain

that the women are even aware that civilians indiscriminately, forcing
they are being used. The article also Israel to enter Gaza to battle Hamas
omitted that I said that the ambu- and other terrorist groups.
lance, which was loaded with weap- StandWithUs 'Israeli Soldiers
ons, tried to run us over before we Stories' is designed to foster dia-
shot the wheels. logue about the conflict and to
Samia Ayyash also states that help correct this kind of errone-
no rocket that ever landed in Tel ous information. Ari and I were
Aviv caused one civilian death. She honored to speak at the Univer-
neglectsto point out the thousands of sity and to be so warmly received.
rockets that fell and continue to reign
down on Israel's Southern communi- Lital
ties from Gaza that maim and kill Soldier in the Israeli Defense Forces

Readers are encouraged to submit viewpoints. Viewpoints can be on a wide array of
subjects and should be 550-850 words. Send them to opinion@michigandaily.com.

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