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June 12, 2014 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2014-06-12
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Thursday, June 12, 2014
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Thursday, June 12, 2014
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


Consumerism psychology

Rich characters, strong performances
fill 'The Fault in our Stars'

Unsigned editorials reflect theeofficial position of the Daily'sueditorialboard.
All othersigned articles and illustrations represent solely the views of theirsauthors.
Better for bUS1neSS
Michigan residents should vote in favor of Proposal 1 in August
n Aug. 5 Michigan residents will have the opportunity
to vote on a state ballot initiative that's set to help
small businesses. If passed, Proposal 1 will begin the
elimination of Michigan's personal property tax on business
and commercial equipment. Most midwestern states overturned
personal property taxes due to various detrimental effects
on state businesses. In 2012, Michigan followed the path of its
surrounding states when the legislation voted to phase out most
aspects of the personal property tax by 2023. Michigan voters
should follow the legislation's direction on this topic and vote yes
on Prop. 1 in the coming fall elections.

bile wiping my hands in
an Angell Hall restroom, a
sticker on the paper towel
dispenser caught
my eye. In friendly
green print, it
said: "These come
from trees." And
I replied, without
sarcasm, "Holy
shit, we must've ;
forgotten." ZAK
I don't mean WITUS
"forgotten" in the
sense of declarative
knowledge -
like, if I asked someone else in the
bathroom where paper towel comes
from, I'm sure they could tell me. I
mean forgotten in the sense of active
or working knowledge; in the moment
of consumption, most people - myself
included - aren't thinking about
what they're actually consuming:
what it's made of, who's making it,
where it comes from, where it goes,
etc. This issue pertains to almost
every commodity that one doesn't
personally produce - everything
from paper products to hamburgers
to gasoline. So, my basic question is,
"Why do we habitually forget the
elementary truths about what it is
we're consuming?" And my basic
answer is, "We forget because we
want to forget."
The next question is: Why do we
want to forget? I think the answer has
to do with the famous saying, "Laws
are like sausages - it's better not to
see them being made." We want to eat
sausage, but if we knew how sausage
was made (or actively thought about
the gruesome details while eating it),
we would probably be too disgusted to
keep eating. So, therefore we ought not
know how sausage is made. This kind of
moral reasoning is ubiquitous in today's
consumerist world, and presumes that
we want to eat and enjoy more than we
and thinkingsometimes lead to disgust.
I reject the view that we should sacrifice
knowledge for the sake of enjoyment.
Matter-of-factly speaking, we violate
this moral routinely, but that doesn't
mean it's right.
Our disgust with how sausage is
made seems to reflect an intuitive
moral that we'd rather not confront
consciously. Deep down, many of us
feel that it's wrong to slaughter animals
for food, like how many of us feel it's
wrong to mow down forests for paper
towel. Herein lies a common dilemma
for consumers: we must consume to
survive, but our consumption routinely
violates our own ethics. This is the
biggest psychological and philosophical

problem for today's consumers. To keep
the originofcommodities inmind would
be to consciously violate our own moral
principles and, furthermoreundermine
our mental images of ourselves as moral
beings. The disgust we would feel
would not only be directed externally,
but internally as well. In order to avoid
this anxiety and self-disgust we opt
for the far easy, convenient task of
erasing or suppressing the troublesome
information. And thus we "forget"
where paper towel comes from because
we don't approve of the truth nor do we
approve of ourselves.
A tremendous obstacle in solving
this ethical dilemma lies in a key
enabler of our motivated forgetting: the
physical and consequently psychical
distance between us and the process of
production. We aren't actually seeing
the stuff we're consuming, only the
end product. Today our gaze hardly
extends beyond the reach of our fork;
McDonald's hamburgers seem to
sprout from the ground fully formed.
To subvert this ideology of eating by
suggesting that hamburgers are in fact
cooked cow flesh is considered vulgar
or, as Mom would say, "inappropriate
dinner conversation." For her, as for
many people, thinking about a chicken
(the bird that clucks) while we're eating
chicken (thewhite meatthattastesgood
with gravy) ruins her appetite. Avoiding
the former reality becomes so much.
easier because we don't raise our own
chickens or slaughter our own cows.
"Forgetting" the disgusting reality
of our consumption is imperative for
allowing us to enjoy it.
My hope is that by exposing these
ugly truths we will be forced to
confront them and I won't have to
retain my current view that, "Morals
are like sausages - it's better not to
see them being made." I'd rather we
not erase or suppress troublesome
information. Instead, we should adopt
the far more difficult and inconvenient
task of individual as well as societal
reform and/or revolution. Overall the
challenging solution is that we must
learn to allow ourselves to enjoy less.
So long as we continue to physically and
psychologically cover up, flush away or
otherwise "get rid of" these disgusting
realities, we will continue to violate our
own morals - not to mention destroy
our planet and its inhabitants. But,
if we're willing to critique our own
consumerist habits and sacrifice a bit
of ignorant bliss, then we can align
our actions with our higher ecological
ethics. Maybe then we can live cleanly
on Earth for a little bit longer.
- Zak Witus can be reached
at zakwitus@umich.edu.

Daily Arts Writer
"The Fault in Our Stars" was
first a book written by John
Green, who, building on a huge
and growing edifice of progres-
sive teen fiction, is right now
winning the proverbial lottery in
the Young Adult literature world.
The success of "The Fault in Our
Stars" and the strange apotheosis
of John Green is the culmination
of a large international group of
savvy young adults expressing
their admiration for a writer/
video-blogger who treats young
adults as real people, whose inner
truths resist the sugary simplic-
ity of the genre that names them.
"The Fault in Our Stars" is
about a girl named Hazel Grace
Lancaster (Shailene Woodley,
"Divergent") who, apart from
being a fairly normal teenager,
an avid reader and an introvert,
happens to have a case of Stage
4 thyroid cancer that will almost
definitely kill her in the not-so-
distant future. Her mom, (Laura
Dern, "Jurassic Park"), forces her
to go to a support group for kids
with cancer, where she meets
Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort,
"Divergent"), an endearingly
pompous boy who immediately
starts hitting on Hazel; so begins
the central courtship, between
two teenagers living on borrowed
The cancer movie minigenre is
treacherous territory for up-and-
coming directors like Josh Boone.
Boone had to depend utterly on
his cancer-ridden characters to
cradle the emotional grenade of
imminent death beside the casual
reality of the everyday. In this
respect, this movie knocks it out
of the park. The pacing is simple
but effective, and the leads are
on-point when it most matters.
Unexpectedly, against all prec-
edent, the parents are important
characters whose inclusion cre-
ate an atmosphere that is believ-
able and intimate. Recall that
when kids get romantic arcs in
fiction, there's usually some dis-

tance keeping their interactions at times feels affected, and the
away from the romance-killing dumbing-down of some dialogue
gaze of their parents, but for kids between Hazel and Gus was
with cancer, this simply isn't an bothersome, though perhaps less
option. The movie (following so if you haven't read the book.
the book's example) compassion- The beginning feels too heavy,
ately addresses the inner lives of partly because of Woodley's over-
its secondary characters, fore- dub, but in general, this movie is
shadowing a life for Hazel's par- a rollercoaster that only goes up.
ents after she passes, and giving The sonic background is
Isaac (Nat Wolff, "Peace, Love, & beautiful, incorporating Charli
Misunderstanding"), a friend of XCX, STRFKR and Ed Sheeran,
Gus's, ample screen-time for his the lyrics of each song bleeding
own personal struggles. Wolff into the narrative. The movie
plays up the goofy, injecting some makes an especially bold sonic
much-needed comic relief. gesture when the couple visit
The romantic aspect of "The Anne Frank's house, overdub-
bing Anne Frank's mature words
onto a Hazel laboriously climbing
the house stairs with her crappy
Ing e ral lungs. The boldness of the over-
dub is a fierce directorial state-
this movie is a ment, rebuffing cynicism about
rollrcoater hat young thinkers (NB: Anne Frank)
rollercoaster that and exalting in the private hero-
ism of personal struggle.
only goes up. It is not necessary to have read
the book before seeing the movie.
Nor is it necessary to watch the
video-blog of John Green and
Fault in Our Stars," jump-start- his brother, Hank Green. But to
ed by the shameless bravado of be in-the-know provides several
Elgort's character, takes off with treats when watching the movie;
an easy chemistry enhanced by for instance, in one episode of his
the young actors' time together video-blog, Green filmed himself
on the set of "Divergent." Wood- on a bridge in the Netherlands
ley seems normal, intelligent, that would be in the movie. In
hesitant, and faithful to her another entry, he hilariously mis-
character's circumstances, but pronounces some of the Dutch
Elgort? Elgort is extraordinary. food his characters eat, and tells
Elgort brings Gus to life with a movie-relevant stories about
bright, mock-pretentious swag- math, water and tulips. If you
ger that even the book, with many like this movie, it's strongly rec-
more lines, struggled to produce. ommended that you look up the
One scene in particular, the scene Vlogbrothers.
where Gus declares that he is in It's jarring to recognize book
love with Hazel, shines in mem- quotes thrown into the movie,
ory as a perfect translation of and perhaps the movie experi-
a book scene to a movie scene, ence is smoother if you haven't
thanks in large part to Elgort's read the book. My friend hadn't
charming and complete grasp of read it, so I asked him on the
Augustus Waters. drive home what it was like for
Some faults include the unnec- him, seeing the movie without
essary FX with which the movie my background. He said, quote:
portrays the texting episodes; "I fucking definitely have to read
the later dramatic FX are equally that fucking book," and advised
unnecessary and make the scene me to give the movie an "A" in
of Hazel's hospitalization less this review.
relatable. Woodley's overdub

Eliminating the personal
property tax will help attract
businesses to Michigan. The
personal -property tax ensures
businessesmust paytaxes on any
business or office supplies. This
ranges from computers to desks
toland. Sincebusinessesalready
pay the six percent Michigan
sales tax on items when
they're originally purchased,
businesses are essentially
being double-taxed for items.
Businesses will oftentimes take
this cost into consideration
when deciding where to
start a company. Because
Michigan is the only Midwest
state using the property tax,
startups may be deterred
from coming to Michigan.
Therefore, eliminating
the tax effectively boosts
our economy.
Though revenue is unstable,

the personal property tax
makes up large amounts of the
tax revenue in industrial cities.
To ensure municipalities still
have access to revenue after
the personal property tax on
businesses is phased out, the
initiative proposes using funds
from the state use tax that will
total about $600 million in 10
years. The state will allow for
$600 million in business tax
credits to expire during the
same time period to make-
up for the new cost to use
tax revenues.
While incentivizing
businesses is a persuasive
reason to vote yes for Prop. 1,
the property tax is inefficient
for other reasons. Not only does
it double-tax - an improper
and unfair method of gaining
revenue - but the property tax is
also unreliable. Since the prices

of goods fluctuate given the
year, region and idiosyncratic
sales, the money received from
the tax is dependent on avariety
of uncontrollable factors.
The state cannot effectively
predict the generated revenue.
Michigan needs a system that
allows for predictable taxes.
This helps the state create a
more reliable budget, and helps
businesses better predict and
plan for costs.
Prop. 1 includes an effective
method to regain tax money.
Allowing arbitrary and
outdated business tax to expire
is a commendable initiative.
However, voters and the
legislation must ensure that
effective business tax credits
that incentivize green energy
and small business growth
aren't cut during the tax credit
expiration period.

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