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July 20, 2009 - Image 5

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2009-07-20

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Monday, July 20, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

15

Not buying it

It wan a sad day last Sunday
when I got rid of my '97 Buick
Ultra. My dad and older
brotherhadboth
driven it before
me. The breaks
always squeaked
no matter how
often I replaced
the pads, and
the right mir-
ror hung off the JEREMY
side from whenL
I accidentally LEVY
hit the garage.
Every time I brought the car to
the shop for an oil change, the
mechanics informed me that there
were several things wrong with it.
I had dealt with these problems
for four years, and it was finally
time to let go.
So my parents and I became car
buyers during a recession, when
the auto industry has been the
focal point of many discussions
about economic recovery. This
raised a tough question. Were we
in some way obligated to buy a car
manufactured in America? This
question would be absurd to an
economist. In a competitive mar-
ket, consumers are expected to act
in their own interest. But with so
much talk about the need to fix the
auto industry, someone has to buy
those American-made cars, right?
Perhaps. But it's not the con-
sumer's problem to worry about.
The economy just doesn't work
the way human reasoning does.
In single producer-to-consumer
transactions, our sense of social
responsibility shouldn't matter.
Even if I have the intention to help
the economy, my single transac-
tion will hardly make a difference.
The best thingI can do is buy acar
that fits my own needs, and the
aggregate demand of all the con-
sumers in the market will signal to
manufacturers what kind of car to
make. After all, an economy's fun-
damental purpose is to serve its
consumers. Consumers shouldn't
have to focus on how to serve the
economy.
And if American car companies
reallywantconsumerstostartbuy-
ing their cars, they need to offer
more eco-friendly options. Eco-
friendly vehicles are the cars that
are selling. The Toyota dealers in
my area actually had a waitlist to
test drive the Prius, a hybrid that
gets about 51 miles to the gallon.

Of course, this isn't news to any
of the car companies. Last year,
all the major auto manufacturers
scaled back their production of
pickups and SUVs. And even after
filing for bankruptcy, it seems that
General Motors still considers the
production of the Chevrolet Volt
its most important project. GM
hopes that the completely electric
car, due out in Nov. 2010, will give
the hybrids a run for their money.
Until then, the Prius will continue
to be in high demand.
But it makes sense that some-
one without much of a background
in economics (i.e. me) could think
otherwise. Media discussions sur-
rounding General Motors's busi-
ness decisions - its assets, loans
and investments - usually make
no sense to me. Such confusion,
fueled by constant reminders that
consumer confidence is low, causes
me to feel absentmindedly guilty.
For that reason, the thought of
buying a car from a foreign manu-
facturer seemed wasteful.
You shouldn't
feel compelled to
buy American.
But it wasn't wasteful. The best
choice for my family was to buy a
foreign car - the Honda Insight.
The new hybrid isn't quite as
fuel-efficient as the Toyota Prius
(which is actually manufactured
in the United States), but it was
about $10,000 cheaper at the
dealership I bought it from. The
Insight was also more pleasant to
drive than the Ford Fusion. The
only thing I remember from that
test drive was the loud turn blink-
er and engine.
I understand that the Ameri-
can car companies are in trouble,
but it's their responsibility to
cater to the market demand - not
the other way around. After four
years of the Buick, I was ready
for a car that fit my interests and
I needed a compelling reason to
go against them. Unless I knew it
would directly benefit the econo-
my, I wasn't going to buy another
"old-man-mobile."
--Jeremy Levy can be reached
at jeremleveumich.edu.

I could honestly say to all of my colleagues,
'I was in television long before you were."'
- Reporter Walter Cronkite, in an interview with CBS News in 1996, as reported Friday
by the New York Times. Cronkite passed away Friday at the age of 92.

A vice's virtues

P erhaps no political fig-
ure since Richard Nixon
has been as universally
despised as former Vice President
Dick Cheney.
Malevolent
puppet mas-
ter to some,
the spawn of
Satan to others, ;
Cheney's strong
will, conserva-
tive mind and CHRIS
terrific scowl KOSLOWSKI
sealed the Bush
administra-
tion as the worst eight years in
many liberals' lives. Despite being
plagued by health problems and
political attacks from the Left,
Cheney still refuses to ride off into
the sunset. He was recently found
to be involved in the cover-up of a
secret CIA counter-terrorism pro-
gram while he was vice president.
Cheney's been a hero of mine for
years. Here are the top six reasons
why you should love him, too.
6. He knows how tofight.
During George H.W. Bush's
presidency, Cheney served as
Secretary of Defense. Along with
General Norman Schwarzkopf, he
was the mastermind behind Oper-
ation Desert Storm, the military
strike that removed invadingIraqi
forces from Kuwait faster than
you can say, "Elite Republican
Guard." Less than four days after
U.S. forces led a ground assault
supported by the United Nations,
Saddam Hussein's troops were
high-tailing it back to Baghdad.
5. He might be immortal.
It's fitting that Cheney has
thwarted every one of his heart's
attempts to kill him - the man has
survived four heart attacks. After
several surgeries, including qua-
druple bypass and angioplasty,
Cheney received an implantable
cardioverter-defibrillator - or
ICD - in 2001. The device is
meant to shock Cheney's heart

back into normal rhythm if he
suffers a sudden arrhythmia.
4. He is Darth Vader.
As Obi-Wan Kenobi said of
Darth Vader in the "Star Wars:
Return of the Jedi," "He's more
machine now than man; twisted
and evil." The association between
Cheney and the treacherous Sith
Lord began soon after his ICD
surgery. Like Vader, Cheney was
a right-hand man that struck fear
into the hearts of enemies of Bush's
Evil Galactic Empire. Cheney even
joked about being Lord Vader at
the Washington Radio and Tele-
vision Correspondents' Dinner in
2008. He had asked his wife if the
comparison bothered her, to which
she responded, "No. It humanizes
you." Now compare Cheney to Joe
Biden - President Barack Obama's
bumbling, gaffing vice president
who somehow got elected to the
U.S. Senate. If Cheney is Darth
Vader, then Biden is Jar Jar Binks.
3. He's got a soft side.
Conquering the galaxy hasn't
gotten in the way of Cheney's
family life. He's been married
to his high school sweetheart,
Lynne, for almost 45 years. They
have two daughters, Elizabeth
and Mary, and six grandchildren.
When Mary's homosexuality
became an issue in the 2004 pres-
idential campaign, Cheney stood
by his daughter despite pressure
to denounce her lifestyle. He
continues to support the right of
state governments to legalize gay
marriage to this day.
2. He shot hisfriend in theface
- and got an apologyfor it.
In Feb. 2006, Cheney made his
most infamous headline after he
accidentally shot Harry Whitting-
ton, a friend and campaign con-
tributor, while quail hunting. The
78-year-old Whittington recovered
quickly, buthe surprised many dur-
ing his first address to the media
after being discharged from the
hospital. Whittington said, "My

family and Iare deeply sorry for all
that Vice President Cheney has had
to go through this past week. We
send our love and respect to them
as they deal with situations that
are much more serious than what
we've had this week." Whittington
actually admitted that the media
assault Cheney suffered after the
incident was more difficult than
enduring a barrage of birdshot.
Most impressive.
1. He's still relevant.
Continuing the trend of recent
vice presidents, Cheney's influence
has grown since he left office. He's
one of the most vocal critics of the
Obama administration. He's spo-
ken out against Obama's economic
policies and his handling of the
war on terrorism. He has been out
of the White House for months,
but many people still ,consider
Cheney public enemy number one.
The latest accusation against him
recently made the news. It involves
the potential illegality of Cheney
not informing Congress of a mys-
terious, recently terminated CIA
counter-terrorism program that
began eight years ago.
Dick Cheney is
Darth Vader.
And I like it.
Even if you hate Dick Cheney,
admit it - you actually love to
hate Dick Cheney. He's either the
perfect hero or the perfect villain.
From his wise-ass smirk in his
official White House photo to the
black fedora he sported at Obama's
inauguration, he's impossible to
forget. Like Lord Vader, he'll go
down in history as one of our most
beloved antagonists.
- Chris Koslowski can be
reached at cskoslow umnich.edu.

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