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4A - Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4A - Wednesday, March 13, 2013 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

cJb 1Midtiian&a4bl

Higher standards for 'heroes'

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com
MELANIE KRUVELIS
and ADRIENNE ROBERTS MATT SLOVIN
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS MANAGING EDITOR

ANDREW WEINER
EDITOR IN CHIEF

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.
Essential expansion
Michigan Republicans should follow Gov. Snyder's lead and expand Medicaid
n March 11 the Michigan Health and Hospital Association
released their annual report, which paints a grim picture
of the current financial state of many Michigan health-care
facilities. According to the report, hospitals in Michigan spent an
excess of $1.8 billion on health care for patients who were unable to
pay for these services in 2011. Of these expenses, $868 million were
incurred as a result of unreimbursed Medicare and Medicaid ser-
vices. To address these massive fiscal shortfalls, the report calls on
Michigan politicians to expand Medicaid coverage and implement
a health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care and Patient
Protection Act. From both a financial and social standpoint, Michi-
gan needs to adopt these expansion policies in order to be a national
leader in accessible and high quality health care.

To our brave men and women
fighting overseas to protect
our freedoms, we salute you.
All of you are
true American
heroes, and
our democracy
would not be
possible without
your sacrifices.
And we do
salute them. It ANDREW
seems as if at
every sporting ECKHOUS
event, political
rally and every
other chance we get, we pay trib-
ute to our countrymen in uniform
around the globe. It's nothing more
than a gesture from the protected to
the protectors, an outpouring of grat-
itude for all for our inalienable rights,
like $9.75 ballpark beers and the
endless onslaught of Adam Sandler
comedies. All in all, it's just another
harmless affirmation that we are on
the side of right, regardless of what is
actually happening abroad.
But are we to assume that each
and every soldier is a hero? Must I
believe that onlythe noblest Ameri-
cans enlist in the military and tote
machine guns through the deserts
of far-off countries? Absolutely not.
I don't believe that all soldiers
are heroes. When a person enlists
in acombat position, it doesn't auto-
matically bequeath upon them the
title of "hero." Rather, it puts the
onus on that man or woman to be an
exemplary human being, especially
to make up for the fact that their job
may be to kill. Though a soldier's
job can involve killing and maim-
ing, the idealistic American public
prefers the image of them building
houses and handing out candy bars
- in other words, Norman Rock-
well's Afghanistan.
If I sound a bit disenchanted,
that's because Iam. Questioning the

government or anyone employed by
it seemed unnecessary when I was
younger. We're the United States;
we're the best, right? Unfortunately,
as my knowledge of American his-
tory grew, so did my doubt. I learned
about mass killings of Native Ameri-
cans, American-backed dictators in
South America and the murder of
civilians in Vietnam. These affronts
to humanity, coupled with the inter-
national condemnation of America's
Iraq War policies, created an atmo-
sphere where my preconceptions
violently collided with reality.
Then, last year, I watched an ex-
Marine's account of the atrocities he
committed during his time in Iraq.
From shooting an innocent man "in
front of his friend and his father" and
watching his family drag him away,
to soldiers being promised extra time
off by their superiors if they were the
first to stab a man to death, the video
shocked and disillusioned me. If even
our soldiers - supposedly heroic citi-
zens - were capable of acts such as
these,whatdidthat say abouttherest
of our citizenry?
Starting on that day I began to
cringe whenever I heard a politician
whoop the crowd into a quiet frenzy
with his tribute to "our heroes over-
seas." The former rote cheering and
muscle memory clapping came a
little slower now, and blindly label-
ing all American soldiers "heroic"
started to seem irresponsible to me.
But for those who think this
makes me a turncoat or a traitor,
you are wrong. I hold my country
to a higher standard - as we all
should - and I'm a strong believer
in what America can stand for. It
seems patriotism and American
exceptionalism have become paro-
dies of themselves. But they remain
a part of our country's ethos and we
have a duty to be the best we can be.
What does that mean for our for-
eign policy? Nothing, except that

when our politicians send Ameri-
can boys into a foreign country,
whether for legitimate reasons or
not, we cannot allow leniency for
gross transgressions.
When a soldier kills
a man in front of his
friend and father, it
is not heroic.
When a soldier kills 16 Afghanis
in a drunken rampage, he is not a
hero. And when a soldier kills an
innocent man in front of his friend
and his father, he is not a hero, even
if he later apologizes for it.
Heroic soldiers exist, and I like to
think that they make up the majority
of our armed forces. There are men
who die protecting innocent people,
both Americans and not. There are
men who improve the lives of people
around the world. And there are
men that believe so deeply in the val-
ues and ideals immortalized in our
Constitution that they are willingto
die for them.
I'm thankful that Ilive in a coun-
try where I can voice these opinions
publicly without fear of persecu-
tion, and I know much of that comes
from the sacrifices of our soldiers.
But we must hold them to the same
standards as every other Ameri-
can. We can respect and salute our
soldiers and military, but we must
be cognizant of their actions at all
times. When someone has a gun and
unfettered protection, their actions
resound even more loudly - for bet-
ter or for worse.
- Andrew Eckhous can be
reached at aeckhous@umich.edu.

S

Nationwide, the standard of health-care
coverage is changing. Despite a federal com-
mitment to more extensive coverage under
the ACA, individual hospitals currently
assume responsibility for the care of millions
of Americans through charitable services.
While Michigan's hospitals remain dedicated
to providing assistance regardless of income,
trade associations like the MHA continue to
assert that the underfunding of these servic-
es detracts from their main goal: to provide
quality care to improve the standards of living
of not just individuals, but also communities.
Currently, 1.2 million Michigan residents
are uninsured. As proposed, the Medic-
aid expansion would provide health care to
an estimated 450,000 additional Michigan
adults. Much of the aid provided to uninsured
patients is through emergency room services
and other non-proactive health care solu-
tions that are more expensive and less effec-
tive than periodic care. Estimates from both
the Republican-led House and Senate Fiscal
Agencies project that the state will save $1
billion over a decade as the federal govern-
ment's assistance covers these costs in addi-
tion to the $2 billion annual federal funds for
the expansion.
Some Republican lawmakers and opponents

of the ACA are concerned about the long-term
costs associated with the program, arguing
that Michigan will eventually be financially
responsible for a percentage of the proposed
expansion. After three years, 10 percent of
expansion costs are to be covered by the state,
while the other 90 percent will continue to
be federally funded. From both an economic
and social perspective, however, the costs of
not implementing a Medicaid expansion far
outweigh the costs of those future payments.
As health care is Michigan's leading employer
in the private sector, the deterioration of this
critical component of the job market could
have devastating effects for a state economy
already in a slow recovery.
Expanding Medicaid coverage in Michigan
under the-ACA will have significant financial
and social benefits for Michigan hospitals,
residents and communities as well. Ultimately,
however, improvements in community health
can't be achieved solely through retroactive
treatment. A responsible policy toward health
care will place equal emphasis on both sides
of health care: the proactive measures and the
reactive measures. State politicians must step
up to help Michigan strengthen its position as
a national leader in the health care industry
and expand Medicaid coverage.

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS
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
FOLLOW DAILY OPINION ON TWITTER
Keep up with columnists, read Daily editorials, view cartoons and join in the debate.
Check out @michdailyoped to get updates on Daily opinion content throughout the day:
GABRIELA VASQUEZ I
She of C ism
a ~e aI v am

0

ZAK WITUS I
Devices or vices?

Across campus, we walk around with our
cell phones in our hands and headphones on
our ears. In our cafes and dining halls, we like
to pretend that we're not alone when dining
solo so we keep our cell phones and comput-
ers on the table, ignoring the restaurant filled
with people.
Ironically, the rise of social media has made
self-induced alienation even easier, and we
often don't realize how ridiculous it makes us
look. We don't hear our friends calling to us
because our ear buds clog our ear canals. We
don't notice a trashcan in our path because our
eyes are hyper-focused on our text message. We
talk to the air because our cell phones have put
voices in our heads. Not only are we becoming
more antisocial, we're also becoming ignorant
and desensitized to the beauty beyond our LED
screens. The prizes, tools and social lubricants
of Generation 2.0 provide us with many advan-
tages that I, for one, am happy to enjoy in mod-
eration. Life moves pretty fast. If you don't look
up from your text and take off your headphones
every once in a while, you could wander past
heavenly Aphrodite and into cross-town traffic.
Students sleepwalking around campus is just
one example of social media and mobile tech-
nology blocking out the rest of our worlds. We
see similar examples everywhere. People text
while driving, pooping and hooking up. Peo-
ple social network during real conversations,
parties and adventures. They're all distract-
ing from the main task at hand. Multitasking
is an illusion. We merely divide our attention
between our different tasks. For the grow-
ing ADHD community, that attention span is
already stressed. But really, this message is for
all of us: We can only naturally do one thing at
once, yet we go against our nature and stress
our minds beyond their capabilities. I'm all for
pressing the limits and bounds of one's brain to
expand its power, but when we repeatedly fail,
as we have with multitasking, we must reassess.
In the stream-anywhere media world of
today, we've become accustomed to a constant
source of external stimulation. We've already
observed how we love to go everywhere per-
petually plugged in. However, even when we go
nowhere - when we first wake up in the morn-
ing, for example - we can satisfy our appetite
for stimulation just by grabbing our cell phones
or computers. We can work, socialize and play,
all from the comfort of our beds. So why leave?
If a life can be lived without actual human con-

tact, why not live that life? It would certainly be
more comfortable and convenient.
I think we choose not to because we strive
for human contact. We desire real relation-
ships based on face-to-face interactions.
Every other social medium (texting, Face-
book messaging, tweeting, etc.) is just an
insufficient substitution trying to imitate real
human interactions and failing to capture
their virtue. Real conversations and real rela-
tionships can be stressful, uncomfortable and
problematic, but they're getting even harder
because Generation 2.0 has learned to social-
ize largely through social media and has con-
sequently become socially inept.
Are we just lazy? Do we fear real relation-
ships? Are we reflecting on our behavior and
aiming to improve ourselves, or are we satis-
fied with what we're doing because society
considers it normal? So what then? You're
afraid of getting a little weird? Shame on you.
To concede, there are plenty of reasons to
alienate one's self from the world. It can be
an ugly, disgusting place. I mean look at it -
it's filled with rape, murder and disease. So if
we're thinking about reasons to drop out of
society, there are plenty that you could find
convincing. But I don't think many of us are
really thinking about what we're doing. We're
creatures of habit. But if you decide to think
about it, you'll probably realize that escaping
the world's ugliness and evil through elec-
tronics does not prove very successful. I've
found-it tends to be the opposite, because the
media loves to focus on the evil and ugly.
Lastly, understand that your world, your
life, in all that is excellent and mundane, is
beautiful. Pay more attention to the natu-
ral beauty, even the everyday beauty we see
walking to class like the hot dog stand, the
Chemistry Building, the squirrel, the cof-
fee cup. Yes, it is the little things. Wake up!
Tune into them. Please turn off your cellu-
lar devices and drop back into the non-cyber
world. If we're always listening to our music,
we're missing the opportunity to truly listen
and interact. Assess your habits. Are your
devices becoming your vices? Are you doing
what you're doing deliberately? Or are you
just a lemming nearing the edge of the cliff?
Listen - is that the sound of oncoming traffic
headed your way? Wake up. Look out.
Zak Witus is an LSA freshman.

Since his death on March 5, many
have called Venezuela's president,
Hugo Chavez, agreat and revolution-
ary leader, a hero and a champion of
the poor. His supporters have raised
him to the status of a god it seems,
with a ridiculously over-the-top
funeral and plans to embalmhisbody
and place it in a museum. The after-
math of Chavez's death has caused
Venezuela to gain quite a bit of atten-
tion as people look back at what his
impact as president was on the oil-
rich South American country.
As someone who was born in
Caracas, Venezuela's capital, I've
witnessed the great effect that
Chavez has had on my country. I
moved from Venezuela to the Unit-
ed States at a very young age. But,
since most of our family was still in
Caracas, my mother would take my
sister and me to visit as often as pos-
sible. We were always there for our
birthdays, our relatives' birthdays,
holidays, etc. It was the closest to
growing up in Venezuela as we could
get. But then the visits stopped. It
was six years before we went back
to Venezuela and, at the time, being
only about 12 years old, I didn't
really understand why. I asked my
parents why we weren't going any-
more, and they said it had to do with
the political situation but that they
couldn't explain it to me because I
was too young. I didn't really ques-
tion it, and I was just excited that we
were going back after so many years.
My earliest memories from those
visits were of Caracas's beautiful
scenery. I remember how I used to
dream of going to the tops of the
immense mountains surrounding
the city so that I could catch a cloud.
When I went back after those six
years, I was shocked. Many of the
hills and mountainsides that I had
remembered as being so beautiful
were covered in irregularly shaped
colored boxes. I asked my mom what
they were, and she explained to me
that those weren't boxes, but houses
for the poor. After that visit, a few
more years passed before we went
back. Again, my parents mentioned
the political situation and the inse-
curity, warning my sister and me to

use only our Venezuelan passports
and to speak only in Spanish.
By then, I had a slightly better
understanding of Chavez and what
was going on in the country, but the
reality of the situation hadn't hit me
yet. On our way to my grandpar-
ents' house, I again saw the boxes
on the sides of mountains, but they
seemed to have grown exponen-
tially this time. I mentioned to my
mom that there hadn't been that
many the last time we were there,
and she shook her head sadly, say-
ing, "Gracias a Chavez" - 'Thanks
to Chavez.' A few days later, on our
way back from a mall, we got stuck
in the horror that is Caracas traffic.
The really terrifying thing, though,
wasn't the cars blatantly disregard-
ing lanes and the seeming millions
of reckless drivers; it was the row of
soldiers standing along the side of
the highway, guns pointed straight
at my window.
More years passed between that
visit and my last one, which was two
summers ago for my cousin's wed-
ding. During that time, I was able to
come to a much better understand-
ing of the situation in Venezuela.
Chavez had completely taken over
Venezuela and turned it into a pov-
erty-ridden, semi-military, semi-
personalistic dictatorship, disguised
as a democracy.
How did he do this? By appealing
to the poor, of course. By relying on
the ignorance of the population to
secure loyal followers while actu-
ally worsening Venezuela's situation.
Poverty had spread to every corner
of Caracas, and that was nothing
compared to what was happening
elsewhere in the country: power
outages, food and supply shortages,
kidnappings, killings and robber-
ies. Friends of the family were being
attacked and kidnapped, tied up and
left in their cars while men robbed
their houses, or left for dead on the
side of the road. While Chavez was
preaching how much better Ven-
ezuela had become and his support-
ers blindly accepted every word he
spoke, the reality of the situation
was terrifying. No wonder my par-
ents were so reluctant to visit. The

increasing hatred toward the United
States combined with the already
present dangers in Caracas - it's a
wonder we've been able to visit at all.
After Chavez's death was
announced, my grandparents told
us how people were celebrating in
the streets. The atmosphere in my
house was more somber, as my mom
repeatedly told me that someone's
death should never be the cause for
celebration. Still, Chavez's death
seems to have done more harm to
the anti-Chavistas than good as his
supporters portray him as a savior
and pledge their loyalty to Nicolas
Maduro, his successor. It's truly
incredible how ignorant his follow-
ers can be, not only of how Chavez
worsened Venezuela's situation, but
also of how the government is bla-
tantly throwing the constitution out
the window and taking on a much
more openly oppressive role. While
Chavez was in power, independent
media virtually disappeared. Glo-
bovision was the only remaining
channel that was openly critical of
the government. Now, Globovision
has been bought by a government-
friendly company - so much for
freedom of speech. If that wasn't
enough, the Supreme Tribunal of
Justice declared that Maduroawas to
have the official title of 'president,'
allowing him to run in the presi-
dential elections to be held in April,
which is unconstitutional.
Chavez's followers preach that
he was a great and just leader, and
will blindly support Maduro sim-
ply because Chavez told them to.
The government is slowly but surely
removing its democratic disguise,
while the people refuse to realize
what is happening around them.
There is a small hope that Henrique
Capriles, the candidate representing
the opposition, will beat Maduro in
the elections, but many of us know
how unlikely that situation would be.
Still, this hope - the hope that Ven-
ezuela will finally be able to shake off
the years of Chavismo, hate and vio-
lence - is allwe have left.
Gabriela Vasquez is
an LSA freshman.

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