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October 12, 1995 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-10-12

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 12, 1995

% UEbe friigrn aig
-20 Maynard Street MICHAEL ROSENBERG
'Ann Arbor, MI 48109 Editor in Chief
dited and managed by JULIE BECKER
' students at the JAMES M. NASH
%tniversity of Michigan Editorial Page Editors
U ess otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of a majority of the Daily's editorial board. All
other articles, letters, and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

JuDITH KAFKA

Tit FmNEPiuw

300,000 square feet ofsafety
for domes&ic vioence survivors

Makngthe area SF
ounty residents address domestic violence
ee months ago, apublicly funded shel- tax money, people in surrounding commun
er for battered women, complete with ties will notice that domestic violence is n(
306drooms and children's center, opened something that can be tolerated on any leve
in ?Washtenaw County. This SAFE House, The public is beginning to recognize th
fu ed by a millage passed in 1992, gives domestic violence is a real and serious prof
women a place to stay while ending an abu- lem. Consequently, communities are begi
si relationship. County officials have taken ning to take serious steps to address tb
thi.-rucial step toward curbing domestic problem at its source.
violence and should be commended for it. The people of Washtenaw County haN
$n a time when politicians engage in fierce set a valuable precedent that other commun
debates on budget cuts, when tax complaints ties all over the nation should follow. B
anong voters are the norm, it is highly sig- taking matters into their own hands, actin
nit ant that the residents of Washtenaw citizens have shown that this problem cant
C~nty pushed for the development of the stemmed at a local level.
ne $3.5 million SAFE House. The govern- The addition of more SAFE houses w
merit alone did not undertake this project. further aid survivors of domestic violence.
Rap1er, it was the strength of a community Washtenaw County's initiative is followe
taking the initiative to spend money to aid the success of SAFE house will be mirror
survivors of domestic violence. across the state. In time, the federal goveri
Battery by a spouse or partner is the lead- ment will be forced to take notice. Currentl
ing cause of injury to women each year. The financial support from Washington to fig
maority of women murdered in this country domestic violence is sparse. With the bu
are victims of an abusive spouse or lover. At get-crunching mania, only a concerted effo
legst half the time, this abuse carries over to from all corners of the country will give ti
the woman's children. Perhaps most striking prevention of domestic violence the priori
is that more than 70 percent of the violence it deserves in the federal budget. As Deni:
occurs after the woman has left her tormen- Brown - sister of the late battered wi
tor. These appalling statistics stress the need Nicole Brown Simpson -pointed out in h
to protect women even after an abusive rela- visit this past weekend, federal educati
tionship has ended. programs are badly needed in this fight.
With a publicly supported place to stay, Domestic violence will not go awayt
not only do abused women feel more com- itself. Citizens should be proud th
fortable about seeking help, but public aware- Washtenaw County has taken the leadi
ness of the problem increases greatly. When addressing this issue and actively workir
a community pumps out nearly $4 million in toward the prevention of violence.

ii-
rat
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at
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have to admit, I was pleased to see all the
media hounding the keynote speaker for
the dedication of Washtenaw County's new
SAFE House last Sunday.
While part of me just wished they'd
leave Denise Brown alone, the rest of me
was glad that Nicole Brown Simpson's sis-
ter was drawing so much attention. Literally
hundreds of people showed up for the dedi-
cation ceremony, and while it is difficult to
say how many were there strictly to see the
sister of the country's most famous abused
wife, they all heard a poignant plea for
action from someone touched by domestic
violence and working to prevent more trag-
edies from happening in the future.
The backdrop to Denise Brown's heart-
felt speech, in which she stressed the impor-
tance ofeducation and awareness in fighting
domestic violence, was proof of what can
happen if people take the problem seriously
and act to help fight it.
The new SAFE House facility, funded by
a voter-approved tax increase and believed
to be the first publicly funded shelter in the
country, stood as a symbol of hope even as
the enormity of its mission became appar-
ent.
The old SAFE House, a converted home
that provided overnight shelter for abused
women and their children at an undisclosed
location, could not adequately accommo-
date the more than 1,200 women and chil-
dren who use SAFE House for shelter, coun-
seling or support each year. So in 1992 the
voters of Washtenaw County agreed to put
up the money to build a new one. The 30-
bedroom, 50-bed, 300,000-square-foot
building - no longer hidden, ("It's time for
the batterer to hide in shame and thebattered

women to be protected by the community,"
stated SAFE House's executive director) -
stands as testimony to a growing public
awareness and intolerance of domestic vio-
lence.
Yet amid the pride ofa community dedi-
cated to the reduction of domestic violence
was the reality of how much further we have
to go.
An estimated 3 to 4 million women in the
United States are battered each year by their
husbands or partners; domestic abuse is the
single leading cause of injury to women; 52
percent of female homicide victims are killed
by their male partners or former male part-
ners.
Most women do not seek help in shelters,
but those who do usually report repeated and
severe abuse. The majority have children
with them.
Now our current Congress wants to make
seeking help all the more difficult to do. The
Legal Services Corporation, a federally
funded agency that provides free legal ser-
vice for those who can't afford it, is sched-
uled for vast budget cuts and restrictions.
For battered women with no income, the
corporation is often the only means of seek-
ing legal protection and/or custody of their
children if they leave their homes. Without
legal aid, women who flee will be almost
worse off by leaving, having no recourse to
protect themselves or their children.
Furthermore, legislators also want to cut
federal funds for education on domestic vio-
lence.
Perhaps they don't realize that, unlike
many of the other social problems they're
trying to ignore, domestic violence knows
no socioeconomic or racial boundaries. It

happens in every type of home, to all kinds
of sisters, mothers and daughters - prob-
ably even to some of theirs.
That's what Denise Brown was getting at
this past weekend, and the message that
she's spreading with her new foundation
created to aid battered women: Domestic
violence happens everywhere and providing
education and resources is an important step
in fighting it.
If the cause receives more attention be-
cause she is Nicole Brown Simpson's sister,
so much the better.
What a man holding a banner calling for
an "O.J. boycott" didn't seem to understand,
though, is that the SAFE House dedication
was not about O.J. Simpson, and it wasn't
really about Nicole either.
It was about all the women still getting
hit, slapped, punched, strangled,;,thrown
around and beaten by their partners. It was
about the children who witness this abuse,
and are perhaps victims of it themselves.
It was about a community's willingness
to help and the result of their action.
One of the speakers at Sunday's cer-
emony said that when SAFE House's lease
runs out in 50 years, they plan to make the
facility into a museum; they're hoping that
by then domestic violence will be but a thing
of the past.
People like Denise Brown and the voters
of Washtenaw County are helping to make
that goal come true, but it's going to take a"
larger movement, on a national level, to
really reduce, and eventually eliminate do-
mestic violence.
-Judith Kafka can be reached over
e-mail atjkafka@umich.edu.

Prime adjustments
Congress needs to rethink inflation measures

MATT WIMSATT .MooE'S DILEMMA
*"Ve COMJ
l

NOABLE QUOTABLE
"People don't
understand that
young women
die."
-Kathy Hagenian,
assistant director of
SAFE House

P oliticians in Washington have suddenly
discovered what many economists have
been saying for years: The consumer price
index (CPI), the government's most impor-
tait inflation measure, overstates the cost of
living. The impact of this realization is ex-
traordinary - as Congress debates which
programs should bear the brunt of budget
cuts, a proper adjustment in how CPI is
nasured could save billions.
During a recent Senate Finance Commit-
te meeting, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan
(I ;=N.Y.) suggestedthatthegovernmentcould
sie$281 billion over the next seven years if
tl :;iost-of-living adjustment (COLA) were
bded on the CPI minus 1 percentage point.
Ceantly, the COLA formula is the same as
tle PI: A CPI that increases by 3 percent,
fa:example, automatically boosts by the
she percentage such federal expenditures
a ocial Security payments, government
p ions and earned-income tax credits.
Trse increases, amounting to billions of
d Iars a year, might be fair and reasonable if
t dex accurately reflected the cost-of-
li increases. Until CPI is adjusted prop-
e smillions of dollars in entitlement in-
c ewill continue to be allocated improp-
e - while the entitlements themselves
f cuts.
L~e CPI is an imperfect measure ofinfla-
tii which the Bureau of Labor Statistics
cilates by keeping track ofconsumerprices
r so-called basket of 364 categories of
g s and services. Those prices are com-
p " with what was charged for the same
itm in a 1982-84 base period. The problem
the CPI has to do with its failure to
c ge as quickly as consumer buying hab-
it :any people, for example, buy pork or
TO CONTACT THEM

poultry if beef becomes too expensive, but
this shift is not immediately reflected in the
index. Additionally, the mix in the CPI's
basket of goods is updated approximately
every 10 years, though consumers' buying
habits change much faster than that. The end
result is a cost of living index that is far
removed from fiscal reality.
The index, according to Federal Reserve
Chairman Alan Greenspan, "overestimates
the true cost of living." By correcting this
bias, the government could save billions, he
calculates. Greenspan's conclusion is sup-
ported by the Congressional Budget Office
(CBO). If this bias were corrected, the CBO
claims, $634 billion would be wiped off the
projected federal debt over the next 10 years.
There is bipartisan agreement on the need
to adjust the CPI. However, because tax
brackets, the standard deduction on personal
income taxes and personal exemptions for
each member of a taxpaying family are in-!
dexed to the CPI, changes to it are likely to be
seen as a tax increase, although they are
clearly not. Faced with the prospect of voter
retaliation, neither Congress nor the White
House seems willing to go at it alone. "Rea-
soned adjustments (in the CPI) should be
made," said Senate Majority Leader Bob
Dole (R-Kan.), "but it will only happen if
everybody sort of joins hands."
With continued cuts to governmental agen-
cies and social programs, along with pro-
posed changes in Medicare and Medicaid,
this suggestion is a common-sense approach
toward balancing the budget while correct-
ing an inaccurate inflation index. It would be
a prudent act of fiscal restraint for Congress
to explore correcting the CPI to accurately
measure inflation.

VIEWPOINT
Why students need health care reform

By Fiit Walness
After the Clinton administra-
tion introduced its health care re-
form plan in 1992, Sen. Phil
Gramm (R-Texas) demagogued
that it would only pass over his
"dead body." The past week has
seen a similar reaction by some at
the University, in response to a
student health benefits plan that I
have endorsed. The following in-
formation should serve as the
foundation for a more reasoned
dialogue, one based on the
premise that students need to work
together to best determine their
health-care needs.
Thus far, most student re-
sponse to health care reform has
centered on the so-called Beckley
Plan - the health care reform
plan put forward by Colorado con-
sultant Stephen Beckley. It is in-
structive, though, to remember
that Steve Beckley did not re-
ceive the plan at the top of Mt.
Sinai. That is, Beckley was not
presenting gospel but simply try-
ing to provide a structure to launch
discussion. Although I agree with
many of his recommendations,
dealing with the minutiae of his
plan is wholly premature. No

health care reform plan would be
presented to the Michigan Stu-
dent Assembly - or to the Uni-
versity Board of Regents - be-
fore the latter half of second se-
mester. In the interim, there will
be more than ample time for pub-
lic forums, constituent feedback
and student suggestions. More-
over, any health care reform plan
should have students at the helm;
one suggestion is to have elected
students constitute the majority
of the Board of Directors of any
new health plan.
First, though, it needs to be
explained in more detail why the
status quo is untenable.
A survey conducted at the
University indicates that at least
13 percent of graduate students
are totally insured. Many more
are underinsured, meaning that
their deductibles are too high, they
have no pre-existing condition
coverage, they have no prescrip-
tion drug coverage, they have in-
complete catastrophic care cov-
erage and/or totally inadequate
benefits related to hospitalization,
physician visits and mental health
coverage. In addition, both un-
dergraduate and graduate students
have routinely indicated to me
that their annual insurance rates

with, say, my father's ailing 50-
year-old assistant, under a stu-
dent health benefits plan I would
be pooled with other students.
Hence my insurance rates would
plummet to approximately $500
per year.
Some students would right-
fully ask: I already have good
insurance; what would happen to
me under this plan? The answer
is a breath of fresh air. Immedi-
ately, students opting out of this
plan would receive a tuition cut
of nearly $70. The reason is
simple: We already have a man-
datory health plan at the Univer-
sity. It's called University Health
Services (UHS). Conservatives
should consider that UHS is clas-
sic socialized medicine. We are
all forced to put approximately
$100 into abig pot, andthatmoney
then goes to pay for preventive
care for all of us. My approach is
a free market approach, through
which you'd only "purchase"
UHS-care if you need it.
Liberals should be satisfied
also. Health care reform would
insure universal coverage while
simultaneously providing all stu-
dents with the ability to choose a
cheap, comprehensive health plan
tailored to their needs. Again,

No longer would some insurance
company in Texas or California
be determining what sort of ben-
efits are valuable to you.
Some have argued that we
should simply augment or expand
the current MSA plan offered to
students. Unfortunately, this is
an unfeasible alternative. The
MSA plan costs little because it
does little; essentially, it covers
hospitalization for a couple
weeks. The insurance agency
through which we contract esti-
mates that simply including cov-
erage for such pre-existing con-
ditions as asthma and diabetes in
the plan would increase premi-
ums threefold.
An attorney once quipped that
if it doesn't fit, you must acquit.
The current University health care
options don't fit; a jury of our
peers needs to let them go. The
issue is simple. We can either
continue with the status quo, al-
lowing more and more students
(particularly students of color) to
go without insurance, forcing
more and more students to choose
between going to school and pay-
ing their health bills. Or we can
agree that the current system
serves the interests of no one, and
needs to be fixed. Please join me

University Housing Division
Alan Levy, associate director

a.

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