The Smoke Signal Friday, September 18, 2009
Weighing in on the Public Option Healthcare for All versus Practicality Matters By Anastassia Tselikova Staff Writer
The only industrialized country in the world that does not yet have a universal health insurance system, America houses at least 40 million citizens who have no health insurance, nine million of whom are children. Approximately 18 thousand people die yearly due to lack of health insurance. Each time a president takes office, an integral part of his platform is the eternal problem of healthcare, yet in the past few years, such significant reform plans as this have not been undertaken. The public option healthcare plan, a step that earlier would have seemed insane, has finally been proposed. The public option, similar to Medicare, would be available to anyone regardless of age, race, gender, or previous medical conditions and could prevent thousands of deaths. Countries such as Canada and Australia implemented similar single-payer programs years ago. The difficulty and exorbitant costs of procuring health insurances have caused some people to go without. However, we can never predict when car accidents or deadly diseases might occur, and no one is exempt. A public insurance sector provides healthcare necessary in the event of the unexpected. This option, though, does not completely remove private companies; it merely enables more people to access affordable health insurance through the government. The option increases competition between the companies, weeding out those who overchange and cannot survive in a highly competitive environment. If this sounds like capitalism as we understand it, you’re right, despite the opposition’s attempt to label this as a drift towards socialism and total government control. We can still choose private insurance companies over the government plan. The only difference will be that the former will have to compete harder against the public option and each other to
retain their income levels. With higher prices for comparable service, private medical insurance may become obsolete as increasing numbers of people switch over to the more reasonable public option. As with Medicare, customer satisfaction and company efficiency in public sectors outstrip
By Christine Cheng Web Editor
Alhough ideally President Obama’s healthcare reforms promise great things and revolutionary results, in reality, the impracticality of his flawed plans will end up defeating the original purpose.
Protesters face off in response to the proposed public option policy.
that of the privately-owned insurance companies. Therefore, the fearful reactions of private companies is understandable, as with this plan, they may very well risk losing many of their customers. Why pay more for private insurance when a public option provides service with the same quality at a lower price? Rated the top system of healthcare in the world, France offers universal healthcare, but people can choose to supplement it with private insurers, to fill in any gaps in government healthcare. This way, citizens still have a choice as to what system they use, yet everyone is guaranteed healthcare. Ambitious and far-reaching, Obama’s plan can dramatically revolutionize healthcare in the United States and save many lives if only the population will give it a chance. ▪
The presence of private insurance companies at the root of the problem is already an established fact. However, insurance companies essentially can escape any actual regulation; their greed and corruption will continue to be fueled by their helpless clients, and losing just a few customers to other policies will be no more than a slap on the hand for the corporations. Despite whatever improvements may be brought about by insurance reform, the public option overlooks factors contributing to our disfunctional healthcare in the first place. Physicians still have their hands tied in many medical cases, often for fear of malpractice lawsuits. This negates any changes that may have taken place, as medical practitioners would often still be unwilling to change
their habits for fear of capricious juries. Furthermore, the severe shortage of health care workers caused by a cap on the number of federally funded training positions threatens to cripple the health care system as Baby Boomers reach the age when their bodies begin to weaken and they need increased medical assistance. Due to lack of medical workers, the health care system will quite possibly be overwhelmed in the near future. The call for “prevention” is simply a wellmeaning politician’s misguided intention to improve the general quality of life of less privileged citizens while cutting medical costs. Unfortunately, prevention equates to an increase in costs, as it entails expensive procedures such as early screening and treatment for cancer, which often yield inconclusive or unsubstantial results. This is not to say research should be ignored. Rather, it should be better funded, so as to find more effective and efficient preventive procedures. Similarly, drug development procedures should become more efficient, thereby saving both resources and lives by providing cutting edge medicine with no political strings attached. Sources for funding, however, are questionable. We cannot use the resources paying for the huge war in the Middle East back in the states, so the healthcare reform money must invariably come from either the pockets of citizens or the paychecks of current health care workers. The former would bring stiff, bipartisan opposition, whereas the latter could threaten some hospitals to shut down and would force physicians to decrease the quality of care that is provided. In the end, what is most important is the quality of care ultimately provided to the general public. Poor care not only costs lives, but also drives up expenses. It is obvious that health care reforms are necessary, but what the president is offering is simply not appropriate for the current state of medical affairs in America. ▪
Homecoming Changes Too Prohibitive Restrictions come at an expense to school spirit and traditions.
By Jerry Ting Editor-in-Chief
Every year, a Homecoming meeting between the administration and the class officers is held to discuss Homecoming rules. “Every time there are more and more rules and changes to Homecoming,” said ASB President Kylan Nieh. (Refer to news page 1.) The senior lounge can no longer contain couches and mattresses. Rallying and marching is no longer permitted. This year, seniors are no longer even allowed to honor the longstanding tradition of rewarding airbands with their ratings, and all classes are forbidden to hold signs in the audience. “Ever since freshmen year, I would look at the seniors for ratings, just because it’s interesting, you know?” said Nieh. With these many changes, it soon becomes obvious that Homecoming has been diminished since I first walked the halls of MSJ as a freshman and has been replaced by rules, rules, and more rules. Different rules are definitely warranted because individuals in the past have indeniably abused their freedom during Homecoming week. Classes have struck out ruthlessly, making a mockery of fellow MSJ students. Even
vandalism of private and school property was commonplace; my own class of 2010 has been both a target and a retaliator. Yet modifications of the rules that govern Homecoming should help to create a better Spirit Week, not reduce it. Although the administration has proper intentions behind confining certain aspects of spirit week due to previous misconduct, some of their limitations obscure timeless MSJ traditions, and a careful review of the necessity of other rules is warranted. Placing more and more restrictions on Homecoming reduces the week from its true form and spirit as a means to promote school unity. Rules like no couches in the senior lounge and the removal of signs may not serve the intended purpose of lessening tension among classes. Such restraints deserve special modifications by the administration to ensure that their laudable purpose of reducing tension is achieved. But this year, even the incorporation of other classes in our skits is being jeopardized. The agreement between officers and the administration is that representation is permitted, given that the following condition is met: no member from another class
...modifications of the rules that govern Homecoming should help to create a better Spirit Week, not reduce it.
can file a complaint. The consequence of a complaint? The offending class is automatically severely penalized, which puts them at risk of losing Homecoming. “...it’s finally our senior year and the administration is taking away our privileges. How can the administration tell if a complaint is true or not? Another class could potentially frame us if they wanted to,” said Senior Class President Linda Xu. The agreement, although it prevents the mockery of other classes in skits, severely diminishes the creative license that script writers and actors are entitled to, forcing harmless puns to be removed and thereby creating a less dynamic production. I vividly remember the first morning of my very first Homecoming. My class and I boldly marched into the amphitheater, armed with nothing more than our high-pitched screams. Then the sophomores came pouring in, some in
yellow, cardboard school buses and others banging on pots and pans. It is moments like these that we students will remember and look back on twenty years after we graduate. But moments like these are being restricted. Homecoming is sacred because of the traditions that classes before us have developed. Being a freshman and wondrously gazing into the senior lounge with its couches and luxury adds to the awe of the freshmen experience. Chanting “Ho, Ha, you wish you were a senior!” while marching in drapes of red is an integral aspect of our high school life. As I anxiously look forward to my last Homecoming here at MSJ, it is troubling to imagine one that has been limited and constrained by questionable regulations. Homecoming should be a week of unity, and only better rules, not simply more rules, will truly serve to reduce tension among classes. ▪
Friday, September 18, 2009 The Smoke Signal
LITTLE LEAGUE | MSJ Team Competes Nationally continued from page 1
WU-TENG’S GREATEST HITS feat. Masta A & Docta J Track 1: “ENTER THE WU-TENG” By Joseph Teng & Anthony Wu Sports Editors
courtesy of ryan mark
Freshmen Kenny Jacoby, Reid Marion, Ryan Mark, Brandon Facha, Jeff Chu, Scott Havard, Adam Curtis, and Devon Jones and Sophomores Kevin Finch, Brandon Fuhs, and Patrick Andreson represent MSJ in this team picture.
the World Series in Taylor, Michigan. Mission easily dominated the field during the district and section courses of the tournament but started to feel the competition heat up as they moved into the divisional section. The thirteen players fought their way through the divisional section with only one loss to Woodcreek. Full of energy and hope in achieving a title, they moved on to the regional section where they defeated Idaho, Oregon, Hawaii, and Nevada, but lost to SoCal in a sweeping score of 11-0. Unfazed, the team walked away with a victory against Hawaii, the defending champion team from last year. Due to a misunderstanding of league rules, Mission was eliminated from the tournament earlier than expected. Instead
Sophomore Kevin Finch winds up for a pitch.
of advancing, Hawaii took their spot in the World Series based on a better defensive record of allowing less home runs to be scored. Mission returned with a 17-2 seasonal record with only the two losses from the Little League World Series Tournament. Having broken a 37 year old tradition of poor performance in the tournament, the boys came home with important lessons learned along the way. “I felt anxious, nervous, and excited but I also learned a lot about sportsmanship and how to deal with pressured situations,” said Mark. Hopefully the boys will continue to train for another impressive showing at the tournament next year. For play-by-play details on the team’s experience at the tournament, visit www.msjll.com. ▪
courtesy of ryan mark
A brief introduction: “Over the course of the year, the Wu-Teng Clan will produce columns (we’ll call them “tracks” ) collectively known as Wu-Teng’s Greatest Hits. Each track will include a rap on a current issue in sports, Docta J’s diagnosis, and finally Masta A’s analysis. Hopefully our tracks will be spectacular enough to be pinned up on the most important section of your bedroom wall, but if not, at least flip to the sports section every month and see whether or not you agree with what the Smokie sports editors have to say. The Issue Hello MSJ, say hi to our first track Now all you gotta do is relax and sit back. Today’s concern about the sports biz: Pro athletes and their ruined images. All that needs to happen is an accusation Then suddenly they’ll have a bad reputation. And just cuz the verdict is not guilty, People still won’t accept them so readily. Forever stained is the public’s perception Lingering thoughts affect their reception. The Docta’s Diagnosis People accuse pro athletes of crimes to get money or time in the spotlight, resulting in the damaging of reputations. This deterioration of the athletes’ credibility is what sports experts who double as Harvard-caliber doctors (like me) like to call degenerative depiction syndrome. The Masta’s Analysis The cause of degenerative depiction syndrome is the stardom of professional athletes. Because pro athletes are rich and famous, people sometimes choose to take advantage of them to gain great rewards, ruining their reputations along the way.
Remember 2003, when a Colorado woman accused Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant of sexual assault? Or how about Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is currently the target of a lawsuit filed by a Lake Tahoe casino host who claims that Big Ben assaulted her? And don’t forget Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman. Internet and TV celebrity Tila Tequila recently charged Merriman with battery and false imprisonment; both charges were dismissed by the district attorney a few days later.
usaplayers.com Merriman wasn’t a merry man after Tequila’s accusations.
These cases and many other similar ones, combined with the common lack of substantial evidence, make us think that perhaps people are dishonest about their headline-making accusations. But don’t assume we believe that all such instances are just examples of normal people trying to take advantage of well-known targets and their money. Yes, sometimes professional athletes commit wrongs and deserve to be punished. However, the public shouldn’t automatically doubt accused athletes just because of rumors and the media. Instead, people should uphold the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” and, of course, refrain from trying to take advantage of sports figures. I mean, who in their right mind would want to get on the bad side of a pro athlete? ▪
It’s Good Game for the Great Galactus in Shaq Vs. By Joseph Teng
Sports Editor It always strikes me as funny when I hear that people enjoy getting caught up in programs such as the ridiculous Jon and Kate Plus 8 or Gossip Girl. Let me suggest a show truly worth watching: Shaq Vs. Shaq Vs. is a new reality show centering on Shaquille O’ Neal, the 325 lb. 7’ 1’’ NBA superstar. Shaq is returning to the lights and cameras, and make no doubt about it, he will take every chance he gets to flaunt his cockiness and flashiness. Through Shaq Vs., Shaq revolutionizes reality TV by merging it with pro sports. In every episode, he challenges other superstars to their respective sports, albeit with handicaps. For the first episode, Shaq faced off against reigning Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger in a small 7-vs-7 two-hand touch game at Ambridge High School in Ambridge, PA. Both of them played as quarterbacks and picked their own teams; Shaq’s advantage was that he started on the 20-yard line while Roethlisberger started on the 40yard line. Shaq, confident that he would come out on top, placed a bet with Roethlisberger; if Shaq won, he would get to wear Roethlisberger’s Super Bowl ring for a week. If not… The biggest battle of the sexes took place down in Southern California on the Hermosa Beach volleyball court, where Shaq and gold medalist Todd Rogers, coached by gold medalist Phil Dalhausser, battled against Olympic legends Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh. Shaq, confident in his height
advantage – he’s only two inches shorter than the net – asked for no handicaps; however, he did prepare. Before the match, Shaq attempted to learn more of the woman’s psyche in order to get into his opponents’ minds by visiting Serena Williams, who taught him not how to play tennis, but how to grunt explosively. He even tried to get into Walsh’s mind by threatening to replace his partner with Casey Jennings, her husband; but of course he didn’t actually do it...right? The match would be the best of three matches, each to 11 points with rally scoring. What was the catch? Watch the show to find out. His third battle happened on the baseball diamond, where Shaq challenged slugger Albert Pujols to a homerun derby at the T.R. Hughes Ballpark in O’Fallon, MO. This was a harder challenge for Shaqqie Robinson, because his massive physique didn’t assist him too much. Since a baseball is so much smaller than a basketball, which already looks as small as an orange in Shaq’s massive hands, he definitely needed several handicaps in this challenge to have a chance of winning. The first handicap was that Shaq only had to hit 250 ft, while Pujols had to hit it 382 ft. Secondly, Shaq had ten outs per round while Pujols had only five. Shaq even toned down his usual smack-talk; of course, Shaq knows it isn’t too wise to jostle a man always holding a bat. His fourth fight was literally about in the ring with former champion Oscar De La Hoya in
a five-round heavy hitting match at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. This was the most even match that Shaq participated in so far, as Shaq dominated De La Hoya both in height and strength, with his devastatingly long arms allowing him to land powerful jabs. But, height doesn’t mean everything as David did beat Goliath. De La Hoya didn’t hesitate when fighting Shaq, responding with flurries of punches when he had the chance. His fifth match will be a competition of different strokes against Michael Phelps, the world swimming phenom. But Shaq will have certain handicaps to even the swimming field, so don’t count him out yet. In his sixth and final match, Shaq will compete against tennis prodigy Serena Williams, who he met in the second episode. What really sets this show apart from others is the amount of trash-talking that takes place as Shaq demonstrates his playfulness by taunting and joking around with the other athletes. But underneath this pretense, viewers can see the
doesn’t mean he dominates in every sport. So far, Shaq has lost each challenge and had to honor the terms of bets he made earlier in the episodes. He’s already lent one of his championship rings to Roethlisberger for a week and walked down a beach in a pink Speedo for May-Treanor and Walsh. Stay tuned for more. ▪
competitive, fiery spirit that made Shaq into one of the best basketball players of all time. But that syracuse.com
The Smoke Signal
Friday, September 18, 2009
Meet the Editors
In the beginning, there were two great writers, bred from the outskirts of MSJ . The few, the proud, brought in from the great depths of freshmen year, two Smokie legends were born. Armed with two years of experience and in the first Journalism 3 class ever, Editors-in-Chief Hannah Scobel and Jerry Ting are here to revolutionize the paper, Big Boss Scobel with her mega-macho “musckles” and Titanic Ting with his super-spiky hair. Looking down upon the school from Mt. N9, the two great warriors are always on the hunt for great story ideas. In the newsroom, Jerry strikes lightning on layouts while Hannah grumbles thunder about articles. Combined, the two are the best in Smoke Signal history, carrying the weight of the Smoke Signal on their shoulders. Contact them at email@example.com. -Hannah Scobel & Jerry Ting
EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it! Newsies are back, there’s no way to doubt it. They’ve got it covered; it’s as easy as that, The brand new front page is where it’s at. If it’s important, you’ll hear it from us, Fact or fiction? It’s us you can trust! You’ll always know what’s going down As long as there’s a Newsie around! Megan and Sargun can be found behind a copy of the New York Times, at their fave lunch spots, or in the front corner of N-9. Megan likes to boss around the Sports Editors and Sargun’s favorite pastime is belting out JoBros lyrics. Hit them up anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org! -Megan Bernstein & Sargun Kaur
Ali and SJ been a lot of places all around the way They’ve seen a lot joy and are looking for more every day They are bringing Feature to the world, Telling their story as two beautiful girls. If Feature sees you getting down they’ll definitely pick you Put you in the spotlight and tell the world about you. You might not see them today But you know they’ll be back all around the way Look for Feature everywhere you go The more you see of Ali and SJ the more you’ll want to know Send us your love at email@example.com.
Strike a diva pose ‘cause Elisa and Albert are here to capture pictures of your beautiful face for the Smoke Signal! Dress to impress every day because you’ll never know when you’ll see yourself in the school newspaper. And don’t forget to attend exciting events throughout the year to hear our cameras clicking away! When Elisa’s not editing photos, she loves to play volleyball and exercise with her doggy, Goldy. Albert, the master of Photoshop, constantly tries to find time in his busy schedule to fit some sleep in. If you have any photos that you would like to see in the next issue, e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org and they may be published!
-Alissa Gwynn & Sonya John
-Elisa Ting & Albert Yuan
Niku was born in the Antarctic Ocean where she was raised by penguins with Happy Feet. One day, right when she was about to get eaten by an endangered polar bear, Cynthia arrived on the Titanic and took her to Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The two became Just Friends and had (500) Days of Summer fun before seeking refugee in District 9—oops, N9. Cynthia enjoys stalking Ezra Koenig via Twitter, making friends on Omegle, and scrobbling music with Last.fm. Niku prefers making out with her non-existent poster of Chester Bennington, licking her toes, and being a creeper. Together, they make the most amazing A&E team to ever roam the world of journalism. Email us at email@example.com. -Niku Jafarnia & Cynthia Kang
Prepare for what you’ve never seen before, Taste just a lil’ and you’ll beg for some more. Masta A and Docta J of the Wu-Teng Clan Spitting out rhymes like no one can. Make sure you note our legit flow; We’re not just good, we’re professional. Everything we say is larger than life, Docta’s words are sharper than knives. Just listen closely to what we preach, Or risk being disfigured by our figures of speech. Masta A and Docta J are baring their fangs;
Witness a revolution, AKA the Wu-Teng. firstname.lastname@example.org
-Joseph Teng & Anthony Wu
There are legends. There are heroes. And then there are spazzy editors of the unequivocally best section of the paper. Why are we this extraordinary? Just Beccause. The Opinion section tells you what we think, why we think it, and maybe - hopefully - you’ll learn how to think for yourself. Have we hit a nerve? Struck a chord? Crushed an ego? Said something injanenious? Send a letter to email@example.com. See you in the Opinion section. -Rebecca Gao & Jane Wang
The haiku is yet another celebrated art form, one that your CS editors Karentina have beautifully mastered: Everybody knows You look at Centerspread first, Too hot to resist. Smack in the middle, Other sections can’t deny, Centerspread’s the best. Karen and Tina, We are just too cute to bear, Better read CS. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. -Karen Lin & Tina Tseng
One day, Christine, a narcissistic badminton fashionista, walked into Starbucks, looking for a hot cup of Java. There she saw Tanu, the infamous MUN meeting attender/VP, taking a byte out of a cookie. They ended up making Smalltalk, which in turn led to the creation of their brainchild, thesmokesignal.org. Thus, thesmokesignal.org generated many invaluable jewels for them, including things of Ruby and Perl. All over the world, people were amazed and enthralled by thesmokesignal.org, and thesmokesignal.org became an instant favorite. Email us at email@example.com. Visit the site! -Christine Cheng & Tanu Patel