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May 29, 2007 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2007-05-29

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


A two-party problem Our doped-up society

When Jesse Ventura ran
for governor of Min-
nesota in 1998, he cam-
paigned with one simple message:
"Retaliate in '98." Part of that slo-
gan was a playful take on his pro-
career as A third party
Jesse "The p
Body" Ven- could be just
tura. But what the
that slogan
was also a state needs.
battle cry
against the two-party system in
Minnesota that had distanced
itself from the people so much so
that it no longer represented their
While Ventura's victory in 1998
was criticized as "a triumph for
political showmanship, anti-intel-
lectualism and the trivialization
of the electoral process" by people
like Steven Dornfeld of the St. Paul
Pioneer Press, it still scared the
hell out of Minnesota's two major
parties. For once, theyhad to think
about losing to a new challenger -
a seemingly unqualified and dim-
witted wrestler nonetheless.
This is exactly what Michigan
needs right now: a viable third-
party challenger to shake up the
state's politicians.
Granted, "dim-witted" doesn't
usually come to mind when I
think of the perfect governor. And
for some odd reason I don't think
that a pro-wrestler is qualified to
be the governor of the state with
the highest unemployment rate
in the country. But Gov. Jennifer
Granholm's Harvard law degree
hasn't done much to make her a
leader either.
Take, for instance, the recent
debacle over the state's budget cri-
sis. While many use the collapse of
the auto industry as the all-encom-
passingexcuse for Michigan's eco-
nomic crisis, state leaders should
be sharing in the blame as well.
In her State of the State address
in February, Granholm told her fel-
low lawmakers that, "We cannot
afford to be divided or to be timid."
She was exactly right. But since
then, she has been just that, and
Democrats and Republicans in Lan-
sing have been as divided as ever.
Her timid approach to political bar-
gaining has made her the ineffec-
tive leader of a divided government
that has allowed petty differences
in ideology to render it useless.
After proposing her budget,
the governor expectedly ran into

Republican opposition to her pro-
posed tax increases. What fol-
lowed was a pointless tug-of-war
between state Republicans who
wouldn't vote for anything with a
tax increase and state Democrats
who couldn't come up with a com-
promise or, even, a more innova-
tive way to raise revenue. Neither
party wanted to fall in the mud
and risk losing a votes.
Meanwhile, as the budget deficit
swelled to $802 million, Speaker
of the House Andy Dillon (D-Red-
ford Township) and other House
Democrats proposed buying every
student an iPod, roughly 80 state
officials went to Honolulu for a
week-long pension conference on
the taxpayers' dime and more than
350,000 Michigan residents con-
tinued to be unemployed. When a
budget finally got passed last Fri-
day, it didn't even cut the deficit in
half because the cuts are temporary
fixes that will need to be addressed
next fiscal year. Not to mention that
the majority of those cuts came at
the expense of one of the state's few
bright spots: its universities.
Together, the parties let the
state slip further into the black
hole of debt and unemployment.
And the people who suffer because
of all this are not those lawmak-
ers in Lansing; it's the people who
voted for them.
It's no wonder that people hate
But what's even sadder is that
these politicians will get re-elect-
ed year after year. In the current
two-party system, incumbents
rarely lose, and if they do their
replacements are politicians who
are just as likely to adhere to
their party's platform. While this
is largely the case because cam-
paign finance and ballot-access
restrictions limit the ability of
third parties to contend, it doesn't
make it acceptable. If Michigan
residents want to hold the state's
major parties accountable for this
incompetence, they should do it by
rejecting this system.
I don't think that a third-party
candidate could win in Michigan. I
don't even think I want one to win.
But I want something to convince
the legislators in Lansing that
incompetence has consequences.
The best way for that to happen
is if voters "Retaliate in '08."
Gary Graca is the summer
editorial page editor. He can be
reached at gmgraca@umich.edu.

Last fall, I came down with
an unidentifiable illness
that strongly resembled
mono. When the pain in my throat
became so intense that even water
was too difficult to drink, I ended
up in the
emergency We don't
room with
an IV in my always have
arm and a to listen to
slew of doc- doctors.
tors peer-
ing into my
throat. While asking the usual
questions, one doctor gestured
to a sign on the wall, illustrating
the levels of pain intensity from a
smiley face (level one) to a really,
really distressed face (level 10).
"How bad is your pain?" he asked
"I guess I'm about a three or
four ... ?" I responded, wonder-
ing if this subjective question
was pertinent to my diagnosis.
"I can give you some morphine,"
he said as he headed towards the
I thought back to the first time
I read Margaret Mitchell's "Gone
with the Wind" and pictured
myself lying on a Southern dirt
road with a fatal wound, begging
for morphine.
I declined his offer. When I
was discharged without being
diagnosed with mono or strep
throat, he prescribed me an anti-
biotic and two painkillers.
Inarguably, our society is
dependent on medications. Ner-
vous parents bring their sick
children to the doctor with every
sore throat, fearful that it may
be a fatal case of strep. Doctors
respondby prescribingantibiotics
for every sore throat, fearful that

it may be a lawsuit in the mak-
ing. According to The New York
Times, 70 percent of sore throat-
stricken children who see doctors
are given antibiotics, while only
about 30 percent of them actually
have strep throat.
While giving sick kids anti-
biotics even as a precautionary
measure may seem like a good
idea, many don't realize the rami-
fications of overuse. No, I'm not
alluding to drug addiction but
rather to something you wouldn't
find in a made-for-TV movie:
drug-resistant disease.
Initially, drug-resistant strains
developed out of complacency.
Antibiotics were such an amaz-
ing development in the early
20th century that pharmaceu-
tical companies started focus-
ing on innovations against viral
infection, failing to anticipate
that bacteria are living, evolving
organisms. However, even the
increased awareness among drug
companies about this issue has
not resolved it. We already have
drug-resistant bacteria, and our
"just-in-case" attitude towards
antibiotics is only aggravating
the problem.
Consider the 40 percent of
kids who don't have strep throat
but take antibiotics anyway. The
drugs will still kill bacteria in
the absence of strep, even helpful
bacteria. And since we're talking
about evolution, think survival
of the fittest: only the strongest
bacteria will survive, and those
aren't always the good kind.
Since we Americans like to
blame someone, let's be fair and
split the fault. For one, there are
the patients, who view themselves
as consumers seeking a product:

medical care. Antibiotics seem
like the concrete remedytoillness,
especially when the alternative is
something as intangible as rest.
Of course, the doctors are also to
blame, submitting to the patients'
persuasions and -addressing only
physical problems.
Osteopathic medicine is a phi-
losophy that takes a more holistic
approach by treating the person
rather than just the illness. As
New Age as that sounds, it's an
accredited system that requires
a medical degree and utilizes
conventional treatment methods
like medications and surgery. Its
philosophy includes one focus
desperately lacking in our phar-
maceutically manipulated soci-
ety: This form of medicine "has
an appreciation of the body's
ability to heal itself." However,
in America, there are about 26
schools of osteopathic medicine
- compared to the more than 125
schools of allopathic medicine.
But because doctors are often
too preoccupied with the satis-
faction of the consumer - I mean,
patient - to focus on a holistic
approach, we should alleviate
the problem as patients first. We
don't have to take every medica-
tion we're prescribed. When you
think you have a cold and the doc-
tor hands you penicillin, or when
you don't actually need that shot
of morphine for your sore throat,
you don't have totake it.
Maybe a little healthy skepti-
cism would make our society a
little healthier.
Emmarie Huetteman is the
summer associate editorial
page editor. She can be reached
at huetteme@umich.edu.

-- ~C
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