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August 04, 2008 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2008-08-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Monday, August 4, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

5

CHRIS KOSLOWSKI o rTTO PASTURE
E-MAIL KOSLOWSKI AT CSKOSLOW@UMICH.EDU
Yo .drop the beat.isten dauand Obama you all Ci
here now. Lend your ears Kennedy? Leiberman? Feingold know what they says. But
y'all There's a holmes called He compromised! Cancer' ney ust play' vote McCain
John McCain. Corporate liars CarolShipp? Waterboardings yu fo urth Pres
Charles Fyers areamong He exercised
the men hesslainesd
Aer
F 0o 0
Ahero in the endzone

Leaving home

he Army football team
is nothing to write home
about. It boasts more
than a hand-
ful of losing
seasons in the
last decade
and little hope
for any Nation-
al Football
League draft-
ees - until
Caleb Camp- RYAN
bell. KARTJE
When the - ----
Detroit Lions drafted Campbell
in the seventh round, chants of
"U.S.A.! U.S.A.!" filled New York's
Radio City Hall. At a time when
U.S. military action is increasingly
seen as incompetent, the scene
must have been a sight for sore
eyes at the Pentagon.
Buttherewere stillthose people
who thought he should be tack-
ling terrorists instead of running
backs. So the Army did its best to
make a deal. And I commend it for
that. According to that proposal,
Campbell would have forgone his
call to duty and donned the Lions
uniform in exchange for two years
of recruiting duty.
So where was Campbell when
the Lions began training camp on
July 24? Not in Allen Park with
the team. He was wearing a uni-
form, all right - just not the silver
and blue. Much to the chagrin of
those who found a patriotic face in
the lineup to root for, the Pentagon
went back on its decision to make
Campbell's dreams come true.
As if people didn't hate the
armed forces enough, now the
heir apparent to former NFL foot-
ball player and fallen soldier Pat

Tillman won't play a single down
in the NFL.
But it's not like Campbell will
be fighting terrorists alongside his
comrades in the Middle East. He
will be serving out his active duty
at a desk at West Point, armed
with a pen and a lesson plan. In
an ESPN interview, Campbell
said he cried when he got word of
the decision, but he knew he had
to serve his country. Campbell is
clearly a class act. He would have
been a hero to many, a spokesper-
son of the toughness and Ameri-
cana that is supposed to be the
armed forces. Unfortunately, he's
been sidelined as a graduate stu-
dent instructor. '
It baffles me that the Defense
Department would throw away
such a golden opportunity to
inspire the masses. Campbell
could have improved the Army's
reputation every time he was on
the field. Campbell would have
been more of a hero on the football
field than on the battlefield. That's
why these armed forces athletes
should be given the choice of serv-
ing their country if they make it at
the professional level.
We live in a country where kids
idolize athletes far more than doc-
tors, teachers and even those in
the armed forces. During Michael
Jordan's prime, it seemed like
more people around the world
knew his name than that of the
president of the United States.
Thatkind of idolization of athletes
is unavoidable - it is engrained in
American culture.
So let the athletes serve as role
models for those who need to see
what real American heroes are
like.

The Army needs more than sol-
diers in this day and age. It needs
the means to inspire, and ath-
letes are simply the best source.
of inspiration America's got at
this point. There's only so many
times we can claimvictory in Iraq
before people just aren't inspired
anymore.
The fact is most of the people
who think the Army made the
right decision when it forced
Campbell to miss his chance
to play in the NFL would have
watched Campbell on Sundays
with a unique respect for a hard-
working, overachiever who rep-
resented America's collapsing
working class. My bet is you won't
hear his lecture on military his-
tory anytime soon. Athletes are
heroes in Americans' eyes, plain
Campbell needs
a Lions uniform,
not a GSI office.
and simple. It would have been
nice to have a hero without the
anabolic steroids and strip club
shootings.
Catching a ball will never be
the same as taking a bullet for
your country. But serving your
two years of duty at a desk doesn't
exactly make you "Army Strong."
Ryan Kartje can be reached
at rkartje@umich.edu.

'm not really someone who
plans well for the future. I
don't have a place to live yet
during the next
school year. I'm
not really sure
when I'm going
tograduate.And
pretty much
everything after
graduation is
up in the air for GARY
me.
So in light of GRACA
my complete
disinterest in deciding where I'm
going to be in 10 years, I'm proud to
say that I made one of those highly
touted life-structuring decisions
last weekend.
My decision: Iwill never, ever live
in the state of Michigan once I'm out
of college.
Don't get me wrong: I love this
state. I was born here. I've lived
here my whole life. Almost all of
my friends and family live here. I've
practically never even vacationed
outside of this state.
But, sitting in traffic on my way
to my mom's house in Macomb
last weekend, I had an epiphany.
Michigan is going nowhere fast. It's
a failing state, caught in a vicious
downward spiral that it's not likely
to get out of unless things change
dramatically. The pessimist in me
says that won'thappen.
Although it was probably the traf-
fic that set me off, as I thought about
it more, Michigan's roads perfectly
illustrate what is wrong here.
As any good Michigander knows,
if you hope to get anywhere in
Michigan, your only option is to
drive. Decades ago, the Big Three
deleted public transportation from
our vocabulary and kept it off our
legislators' agendas. So everyone
drives everywhere.
All that driving, along with the
weather, the trucks and the salt, has
taken a predictable toll on Michi-
gan's roads. Michigan now has the
eighth worst road system in the
United States, according to a 2007
report by the Reason Foundation.
Worse yet, the Michigan Depart-
ment of Transportation released a
report in May sayingthat more than
3,000 bridges in the state are either
structurally deficient or function-
ally obsolete. In the next five years,
MDOT only plans to fix a little more
than 80 percent of those bridges.
Without functional roads, no
right-minded business wants to be
in Michigan. In fact, when Volk-
swagen pulled out of Michigan last
summer, Michigan's crumbling
infrastructure was one of its main

reasons for its departure. It's more
costly to travel on beat-up, slow
highways, and, frankly, it's less pres-
tigious when foreign clients stop by.
Better to move south or out west,
where salt trucks don't dig out cra-
ter-size potholes each winter and
traffic is an exception not the rule,
than stay in Michigan.
But fixing the roads is expensive.
An advisory panel appointed by
Gov. Jennifer Granholm reported
last week that just getting Michi-
gan's roads and bridges into "good
shape" would require almost dou-
bling transportation spending
from $3.2 billion to $6.1 billion. An
expanded, quality system would
require increasing spending to $12.6
billion each year.
Obviously, Michigan doesn't have
that kind of money.
Michigan is on
the road to ruin.
Get out.
But maybe fixing roads isn't a
short-term priority. I can under-
stand that, especially if the state is
spending the money on more imme-
diate concerns like unemployment.
You can always gamble on infra-
structure and hope that it holds up.
It usually does.
Well, Michigan spends more than
$2 billion a year to lock up more
than 50,000 people. That makes it
only one of four states in the coun-
try to spend more money on prisons
than higher education. Frankly, that
doesn't sound like a very good way
to spend money that could be spent
on schools, roads or bridges.
So what are young people like
me left with? While big businesses
like Volkswagen are leaving, the Big
Three is collapsing and Michigan
residents are sucking up unemploy-
ment dollars in the absence of these
businesses. Behind it all is a state
government more intent on hoping
something will pull the state out of
the spiral than working to pull it out
itself. That's a pretty bad situation,
and one that doesn't look like it's
going to improve anytime soon.
I may not be good at planning out
my future. But Michigan is much
worse. That gives me no reason to
stay.
Gary Graca is the summer
managing editor. He can be reached
at gmgraca@umich.edu.

Iditorial Board Members:
Elise Baun, Anindya Bhadra, Harun Buljina, Robert Soave

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