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June 13, 2011 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2011-06-13

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Monday, June 13, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


Eliminate labels



Of all the popular cliches in
American politics, bipartisanship
has to take the gold medal for the
difference in its
use in speeches
and its actual
practice in Con-
gress. The truth
is, as much as
politicians hail
and compromise MAX
as a political LEVENSTEIN
goal, their terms
in office usually
center around the battle between
conflicting ideologies. Universal
health care, environmental and eco-
nomic policy are all examples of
issues that were once promised to
be solved by working with others
"across the aisle," yet have devolved
into the typical fight between liber-
als and conservatives.
We live with this reality, and for
better or worse, must accept the fact
that this country will always have
large diametrically opposed popu-
lations of liberals and conservatives.
But what do these terms - liberal
and conservative - actually mean?
Never mind the fact that the
word "liberal" is derived from liber-
tarianism, a branch of political phi-
losophy that emphasizes personal
responsibility, individual rights and
small government (now a "conser-
vative" ideal), or that conservatives
traditionally have supported a large
and strongly structured govern-
ment in order to maintainthe status
quo. But what do these words mean
now? My impression is that popular
politics refer to conservatives as
those who like small government,
and liberals as those who like it big.
Conservatives like low taxes, liber-
als and liberals who like them high.
Conservatives are pro-life, liberals
are pro-choice.
I can accept the fundamental
differences between these political
ideologies, as many of these issues
are complex and have strong and
legitimate supporting arguments
for both sides. I do, however, have a
problem with many of the hypocri-
sies that arise out of these political
labels. If Republicans are pro-life,
that's fine. But how can one believe
that every life is sacred and endorse
capital punishment? Republicans
want small government that leaves
individuals alone, but push federal
legislation opposing gay marriage.
Of course, the opposite argument
can be made against Democrats.
They want to secure personal lib-
erty by legalizing the use of mari-
juana, but wish to ban smoking on

the University campus, city streets
and privately owned restaurants.
This list goes on and on, each
one of the hypocrisies making me
laugh just a little. How and why
do individuals support and oppose
such similar issues? Obviously the
examples I listed are not black and
white as they fall into different
spheres of politics and economics,
but there are still inconsistencies.
It seems problematic to call your-
self a conservative but decide the
things you don't want people to have
individual responsibility for, such
as drug use and military service.
What I find even more problematic
is an individual who doesn't pick
Bipartisan is
simply a banal
and choose what they feel is the best
choice in their judgment and instead
directs every decision by what their
strict political ideology tells them to
think. There is value in having indi-
viduals think for themselves, who
make informed and justifiable deci-
sions that have nothing to do with
political philosophy or tradition.
Individual thinking ought to be
applied more often in politics, elimi-
nating the need for labels. The afor-
mentioned hypocrisies only exist
when individuals and politicians
cling to these ideologies and label
themselves as such.
Many Congressional politicians
fall victim to the labels of Republi-
can or Democrat. Their decisions
are often based on party lines, turn-
ing individual thought into herd
behavior. Political party whips are
specifically employed to ensure that
no one in their party will think and
vote differently. Is this the biparti-
sanship that our leaders in Washing-
ton promised us?
The only way to effectively
trudge through our extensive list
of political problems is too aban-
don our way of labeling people and
politicians, and instead focus on
individual arguments that are not
biased by what color their state is.
This may be difficult, as party orga-
nization is powerful and stable, but
as voters we can and should pick
and choose politicians who act gen-
uinely and individually.
Max Levenstein can be
reached at medl@umich.edu.

Sir, perhaps we should focus
onaoetcapaign for your
and that's when
Paul Revere fired
warning shots to let
tweren' going two tk
our guns!
another tour, and~ai
for God's sake keep ;;
a microphone near her

I nurtured my last sip of beer
at Ashley's and stood to leave. It
was one of those randomly warm
days that got -
mixed in with
the myriad
of cold ones.
State Street
was bustling
with people
wearing dusty, -
rediscovered BLAKE
summer attire, OBI
pulled from _
the shadow-
veiled corners of their closets.
I stood waiting for the cross-
walk to change and overheard
a friendly debate between two
bums: "If you had to choose -
which is more important, the
cheese or the wrapper of a Kraft
American Single?"
Growing up in a typical Ameri-
can household, I'm very familiar
with the Kraft American Single
and its wrapper. The iconic small
flap at the top that is to be peeled
away first, then the rest of the
wrapper that hugs the greater
part of the cheese. It's the perfect
element for a grilled cheese sand-
wich, to melt over eggs or simply
eat plain. As I pretended to be
busy reading old text messages on
my phone, I eavesdropped on their
conversation, straining to hear
both arguments past the noise in
the street. The first bum stood tall
and had a Christ-like appearance,
and argued that the wrapper is the
more important part of the single
- it's the unsung hero that keeps
the cheese fresh. The second bum
was shorter in stature, but the
tone of his voice was strong and
authoritative, retorting that the
cheese is the substance, the part
you're paying for and eating, and
thus obviously more important.

As I walked away, I contem-
plated both arguments. I came
to the conclusion that the cheese
is obviously the more impor-
tant part; it's the sustenance
and the product, so it definitely
reigns supreme. But the wrap-
per intrigued me. I thought long
and hard about the wrapper as
I walked. Why is it there? How
many must Kraft produce a year?
That's a lot of plastic. I had an
overwhelming feeling that the
wrapper is not "underappreci-
ated" like the Jesus-bum claimed
- it's simply unnecessary.
That's a lot of plastic for one
slice of cheese. This wasteful-
ness aroused my curiosity and
so I braved the UGLi to do some
research. Kraft sells $400 mil-
lion of American Singles alone
each year. A 16-pack of the
individually packaged cheese is
about $3.50. That means Kraft
sells about 115 million packs of
singles a year. With 16 slices in
each pack, that's about 1.8 bil-
lion slices of cheese - each one
hugged tightly by a piece of plas-
tic. I contacted Kraft to find out
more about their packaging of the
single, but their transparency did
not mimic their wrapper. I was
told by Kim McMiller, associate
director of consumer relations,
that "the individual packaging
is provided by a supplier who
wishes to be kept anonymous,
therefore, we are not able to pro-
vide you with any information."
The point is that there is a lot of
unnecessary waste going on here
that should be remedied, and it
seems to me that Kraft knows it,
based on their unwillingness to
provide any numbers or informa-
tion about their product.
Get rid of the damn wrapper.
Stack the slices on top of each

other and put them in a reseal-
able container - the cheese will
stay fresh and maybe the con-
tainer can be reused as recy-
clable Tupperware. The point
is we don't think of something
so small as waste. We all mind-
lessly throw away wrapper after
wrapper, not thinking about how
each one contributes to the bil-
lions we throw away every year.
This doesn't stop with cheese.
We practice wasteful methods
everywhere without a thought.
We allow powerful corporations
like Kraft do what they want
We mindlessly
waste without a
second thought.
because we are complacent, act-
ing as if we see no problem with
the way things are run. But I see
a problem - and this may be only
one instance of waste among
the many out there, but it is an
instance of waste, and it shouldbe
fixed. If this fake cheese has won
you over like it has me, let's not
allow this love affair to blind us
on issue of wastefulness. We have
given them power by standing by
and doing nothing, continuing to
mindlessly buy their product. I'm
going to send an e-mail to com-
pany to display my disgust and
I'm going to stop eating Kraft
singles until they change. Maybe
if everyone else does the same,
Kraft will hear.
Blake Obi can be reached
at blakeobi@umich.edu.

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