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July 24, 2006 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2006-07-24

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, July 24, 2006

FROM THE DAILY
Stem the tide
Bush's stem-cell veto irrational, divisive

JEREMY DAVIDSON
Editor in Chief

IMRAN SYED
Editorial Page Editor

JEFFREY BLOOMER
Managing Editor

EDITED AND MANAGED BY STUDENTS AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN SINCE 1890.
420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other
signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their author.
Editorial Board Members: Amanda Andrade, Emily Beam,
Jared Goldberg, Theresa Kennelly, Christopher Zbrozek
FROM THE DAILY
Up, up and away
Tuition increase highlights need for
greater state funding

t took more than five years and 1,130
bills, but President Bush is finally
on the board with his first-ever veto.
Given he was zero for his last 1,130, you
can't blame the guy for looking to hit a
homerun with that first veto. Hurled at
legislation that aimed to reduce federal
barriers to embryonic stem-cell research,
the veto did just that,putting up one big
run for nonsensical benightedness and
polarizing bigotry - not to mention
leaving potentially life-saving research
in a deep hole to climb out from.
Though this was Bush's first official
veto, he's no stranger to turning his back
on legislation after signing it. In a col-
umn posted on the website FindLaw.
com at the beginning of the year, for-
mer White House counsel to President
Nixon John W. Dean - naturally a man
who ought to know a thing or two about
the abuses of executive power - cited a
rather enlightening tally. According to
Philip Cooper, an expert on presidential
signing statements, wrote Dean, Presi-
dent Bush appended signing statements
to 107 different bills he signed into law
during his first term.
The signing statement - a tradition-
ally rare executive tactic used to defang
legislation the president opposes but
cannot veto without losing face - has
thus always been Bush's unofficial veto.
But could he simply defang legislation
that would open up for federal funds for
research that the majority of scientists
and Democrats, and even a good number
of House and Senate Republicans, deem

vital? Of course not. Crucial, bipartisan,
common-sense legislation should be shot
down outright.
Embryonic stem-cell research is a vital
part of the future of productive health sci-
ence research, one that has been unnec-
essarily and dangerously suffocated by
prohibitive federal - and in Michigan's
case, state - laws. Bush and his support-
ers (surprisingly few, though they include
Michigan gubernatorial candidate Dick
DeVos), claim that the benefits of stem-
cell research can be fully extracted by
researching only adult stem cells and
existing embryonic lines (never mind that
they're contaminated), thereby eliminat-
ing the need to, as they see it, "destroy
life" by using human embryos obtained
from places like fertility clinics. But the
vast majority of such embryos would oth-
erwise be discarded, so why not study
them and potentially develop cures for
debilitating diseases such as Parkinson's
and Alzheimer's? We're baffled.
Senator Arlen Spector (R-Pa.), for-
mer First Lady Nancy Reagan, Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) and
50 Republican members of the U.S.
House aren't so sure either; they support
embryonic stem-cell research despite
the incessant misguided and shallow
rhetoric of the religious right. Sure, the
president could listen to them - or the
plurality of the scientists and vast major-
ity of Democrats - but it wouldn't be
the Bush White House be if irrational-
ity, closed-mindedness and divisiveness
didn't rule the day.

Anearly 6-percent tuition
increase for undergraduate
students at the University next
year is, it seems, what passes
for good news in these parts. Thanks
to a 3-percent increase in state appro-
priations after years of cuts, the Uni-
versity was able to avoid a double-digit
increase similar to last year's 12.3-per-
cent tuition hike.
Yearly tuition increases far above the
general rate of inflation, however, pose
problems for the University. Though the
University deserves credit for its commit-
ment to financial aid, sticker shock from
high tuition deters many students from
even applying. The state, for its part, has
to commit to greater and more consistent
funding to its public universities ifa qual-
ity education is to become accessible to
everyone in Michigan.
The budget approved by the University
Board of Regents on Friday includes a
5.5-percent increase for both in-state and
out-of-state undergraduates in the Col-
lege of Literature, Science, and the Arts.
Across all undergraduate programs, the
average increase is 5.8 percent. The news
could have been far worse, and its effects
will be softened by the University's com-
mitment of an additional $5.7 million to
financial aid.
There is danger, however, that state
legislators, seeing tuition increases at
state universities despite an increase in
state funding this year, will be hesitant
to support increases in the future. But,
the fact is that inflation in higher educa-
tion is always greater than inflation in the
economy as a whole.
The causes are complex and include
expensive research infrastructure, the
need for competitive salaries to retain
top-notch faculty and something econo-
mists call Baumol's cost disease - the
existence of greater inflation in fields,
such as education, where a reliance on
human interaction prevents productivity
increases from offsetting increased wages
over time. (It takes just as much of a pro-
fessor's time to lead a 20-person semi-

nar now as it did 100 years ago, despite
the rise in the cost of living and thus the
professor's wages).
The situation is further complicated by
the long-term decline in state support. In
the past, state appropriations accounted
for the majority of the University's general
fund. Over recent decades, however, that
share has fallen drastically, and increas-
ingly, the costs of operating a world-class
research university have fallen on students
and their families. The situation has not
been helped by state cuts over the past four
years. Despite this year's small increase,
the University is still receiving $37 million
less from the state than it did in 2002.
For the University, this means that low-
and middle-income students are far less
likely to even bother applying. Seeing
the nominal tuition figure, less-affluent
parents may discourage their children
from applying, figuring that four years
of tuition is far beyond their means, even
though, thanks to the University's innova-
tive financial aid programs, this often isn't
the case. The University needs to make its
commitment to financial aid crystal-clear
in its application materials and through
its recruitment process. The opportuni-
ties provided by an elite public university
mean little if high tuition leaves the Uni-
versity as merely a playground for chil-
dren of the rich.
The state, meanwhile, ought to boost
its commitment to its public universities
drastically if it's serious about building
the kind of educated workforce needed to
ensure Michigan's economic future. The
state's traditional dependence on the auto
industry is already leading it to economic
obsolescence - and Chinese cars haven't
even hit the streets yet.
One expert, former University President
James Duderstadt, suggests increasing
funding 30 percent above inflation for the
next five years. Given political realities in
Lansing, that might not be possible, but
at the very least, the state must provide a
consistent commitment to what increases
it can afford and not return to the cuts that
characterized the past four years.

ALEXANDER HONKALA Car Q T

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IVE ON YOUR FEET

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STAND DOWN OR WE'LL FIREI LET'S STOP FIGHTING OVER
WAIT, WHAT THE ELL ARE WE POLITICS AND RELIGION...WE'RE/ I
DOING TO EACH OTHER? PRACTICALLY THE SAME PEOPLE SI5..GH
ENYWAYI THIS WAY, OUR
KIDS WONT 5E PUT
THROUGH WHAT'
WE HAVEIpoo
irt ___

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