Afl_SUNDAY, MARCH 29, 1998 THE SALINA JOURNAL George B. Pyle editorial page editor Opinions expressed on this page are those of the identified writers. To join the conversation, write a letter to the Journal at: P.O. Box 740 Sallna, KS 67402 Fax: (785) 827-6363 E-mail: SJLetters® saljournal.com Quote of the day "With a better image we could be drawing more people in." Jim Sweeney Salina Area Vocational Technical School director on the need for new buildings. OPINION By SCOTT SEIRER / The Salina Journal The sheriff's panel of pals THE ISSUE 'Hie sheriffs budget THE ARGUMENT Hire the expertise needed T here's little doubt that Sheriff Glen Kochanowski's budget advisory board will be able to come up with numbers to match what the department hopes to spend next year. But that's not what we need. The sheriff, whose department has overspent its budget in nine of the past 10 years, is pushing for a simple solution. He wants more dollars. County commissioners, who oversee the purse strings, aren't buying that solution. They question how well the department is using the dollars it has. Commissioners are right to wonder. It is nothing more than good management to examine department operations as well as the budget to determine how best to answer the problem of chronic overspending. It is no insult to the new sheriff, or to his predecessors, to hire a management firm with expertise in law enforcement to study the department and make recommendations. That is what commissioners plan to do, though the sheriff is balking and has vowed not to cooperate. It's hard to guess what a study might show. Perhaps funding is not at the level it needs to be. Perhaps there are more efficient ways to provide law enforcement. Whatever is found, Sheriff Kochanowski should welcome the information. If the need is for dollars, he will have the consultant's recommendations to bolster his argument before commissioners. If there are ways to be more efficient, he should welcome the fresh ideas as a way to improve the department. Kochanowski's proposal to round up colleagues and pals to look at the budget and fill in the blanks with bigger numbers is pointless. Such an exercise should carry no weight with commissioners, who in calling for a consultant's study are acknowledging publicly that they don't have the expertise with which to evaluate a complex law enforcement and jail operation. Time's a wastin'. Come summer, it'll be time to draw up the 1999 sheriffs department budget. Lacking understanding about the reasons for past overspending, the scenario will be the same as in the past: commissioners will approve more money for the department, the department will spend even more money than that and we'll all be scratching our heads about why the overspending can't be controlled. It's time for solid answers. Come on, sheriff. That's enough of this stubbornness; that's enough of this badgering for dollars. We need you to be open to change and receptive to new ideas. Forget the panel of pals. It's far better to embrace the idea of a consultant's study. With that we can get solid answers about how to end this budget dilemma. With that we can map ways to provide even better law enforcement in the county. And that should be our primary goal. LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL SJLetters@saljournal.com Karla Faye enters heaven before we do On Jan. 281 wrote a letter to this paper opposing the Feb. 3 execution of Karla Faye Tucker in Huntsville, Texas. Soon afterwards I received the nastiest, most vulgar and hate- filled letter ever in response. It was signed "another taxpayer." I promptly filed it under fan mail. This gives me the opportunity to revisit the subject of the death penalty in America much sooner than I intended. In Matthew 21:31, Jesus says to the chief priests and elders who were hassling him with trick questions: "1 assure that tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before you." Karla Faye Tucker was a known prostitute and drug addict at the time she committed those most cruel double murders in 1983. What if we paraphrased Jesus' words to the political and religious leaders of our own day who are taking America down the dark road of executing human beings like this: "Prostitutes, drug addicts, and murderers are entering the Kingdom of God before their executioners." And we are the executioners. In January, 1994, the Catholic bishops of Kansas stated that "the death penalty fuels vengeance, diverts from forgiveness, and greatly diminishes respect for all human life." Father Damian Richards in his "Timely Observations" in the Northwestern Kansas Catholic Register in January 1994 wrote: P.O. Box 740, Salina, KS 67402 "The death penalty appeals to the 5-year-old judge in us all who regards 'getting even, an eye for an eye' as the highest form of justice. 'You hit me, I can hit you.' Father Damian went on to say: "The hardest part about being Christian is loving guilty people. If we want to be pro-life, we must be pro-life all the way. You can't be pro-innocent life and anti- guilty life. Life is life and all of it is sacred." Karla Faye Tucker's universally acknowledged repentance, years before her execution, did not earn her God's forgiveness. God alone freely grants His boundless mercy. We who are made in the image and likeness of God, we, too, can choose to forgive sinners. If we do not forgive others, even prostitutes, drug addicts and murderers, how can we be certain that we will be forgiven our sins? Forgiveness doesn't bring the murder victims back. It doesn't take the pain away from the grieving survivors. What forgiveness does is it sets us free. It frees us from the hatred and desire for vengeance ('You hit me, I can hit you') that can kill our souls as surely as we can kill the bodies of murderers. How big God's forgiveness for all sinners without exception on the Cross on Calvary was! How big is our forgiveness? Karla Faye Tucker, pray for us! Jerry Lynne Dean and Deborah Thornton, Tucker's victims, pray for us! — FRED KARLIN Beloit THE REST OF US 1 t*XJi*t anyone oven thirty. is */eu ro TME -> UUo T TORY NOTIONS Gas cheaper than bottled water Our limits are imposed not by the natural world, but by our own minds T wenty-five years ago this October the first "oil shock" supposedly ushered in an era of "limits" and "diminished expectations," small cars and Jimmy Carter's cardigan sweater. Today gasoline is cheaper — less than 80 cents a gallon in some parts of America — than the designer water people sip from plastic bottles while walking to their sport-utility vehicles that are so unfairly safe when they collide with the small cars Americans are encouraged to drive in order to save gasoline. (Worrying about plastic bottles and SUVs keeps environmentalists in moral trim.) A gallon of gas costs, in inflation-adjusted terms, less than half what it cost 40 years ago. Yet Irwin Stelzer, resident polymath at the American Enterprise Institute, reports that the daily rate for renting drilling rigs rose 42 percent last year. Oil companies are eager to find more of the commodity they are selling for less because the cost of producing oil has fallen even faster than the price of oil. One reason is new software that removes much of the guesswork in exploration. And Stelzer notes that, whereas 50 years ago it was considered a marvel to drill in 20 feet of water, drilling soon will be done in 10,000. Stelzer recalls that in 1972, when proven world reserves were 670 billion barrels, the Club of Rome report predicted exhaustion of V SUNDAY FUNNIES GEORGE F. WILL The Washington Post » •„• . the world's oil supplies by 1990. Since then 550 billion barrels have been used, but proven reserves are more than 1 trillion. Asia's economic boom increased oil consumption there sixfold in 25 years. Today's Asian bust has an aspect helpful to the U.S. economy. Asian demand for U.S. goods and services has contracted, but so has Asian demand for oil, which contributes to declining oil prices. That decline increases the disposable income of American consumers buying American goods and services. The price of oil has dropped more than 40 percent since October, and recently drifted below $13 a barrel. Stelzer believes that important oil-exporting nations can make money selling at $5 a barrel, and will soon be doing so. This could have a stimulative effect in America equivalent to a tax cut approaching $100 billion annually. Until oil prices plummeted, it had been an axiom of journalism that all news is economic news and all economic news is bad. That is, a lead lining can be detected on every silver cloud. Rising unemployment? Here comes a drain on the budget, social waste, declining consumer confidence. Declining unemployment? Expect inflationary overheating of labor markets. Rising interest rates? A recipe for sluggishness. Declining interest rates? Look for general overheating. The task of finding the gloomy dimension of declining oil prices is testing the ingenuity of the Cassandra class. However, Colin J. Campbell, writing in The National Interest quarterly ("Running Out of Gas: This Time the Wolf is Coming"), argues that: Since 1850, when the world's population was 1 billion, population has increased six- fold and oil extraction has increased in di- rect proportion. So "the world is using up its geological endowment at a prodigious rate." Although discovery has become cheaper, 1 discovery rates are falling sharply, and by 2003, half the planet's supply of conventional oil'will have been consumed. (Conventional oil is that which is easily extracted. Nonconventional oil is produced, as from Canadian tar sands deposits, which, according to Richard L. George, writing in Scientific American, contain more oil than Saudi; Arabia's reserves.) Campbell says the world is on the eve of a' "historic discontinuity," not because it is run-, ning out of oil, but because it is running out of the abundant cheap oil on which it has come to depend. Writing with Jean H. Laherrere in Scientific American, Campbell stresses the imprecision' — some of it reflecting the limits of science, some of it politically motivated — of estimates, of proven and undiscovered reserves. OPEC members have an incentive to inflate estimates of their reserves: the higher their reserves, the more they are allowed to export'.' Campbell suspects that this is why in the late" 1980s six of the 11 OPEC members increased their reserve figures by amounts ranging from 42 percent to 197 percent. However, even if Campbell's cautionary strictures are all valid, they mean only that this golden moment cannot last forever, not that it is not golden beyond the dreams, let' alone the nightmares, of just two decades ago. Furthermore, this moment is not simply a gift extracted from a bountiful planet. Rather, it has been produced by scientific creativity that, is largely the fruit of freedom in industrialized countries. Freedom is a political, not a natural resource, and America has the world's largest supply of it. What's that dead frog doing in my taco? DAVE BARRY The Miami Humid National statistics on spider- gobbling are being skewed by people like Martha Stewart I have received some important information via a letter from Claire Nordstrum, 13, a student in Wisconsin (state motto: "Moo"). Claire states that her science teacher told the class that "it's a proven fact that on average a person eats six spiders in a year." Another science fact this teacher revealed, according to Claire, is that "wood ticks breathe through their butts." This sounds logical to me, since if a wood tick had its whole head burrowed into your body, it wouldn't be able to breathe through its face (assuming ticks have faces) unless it was wearing some kind of tiny snorkel, which is unlikely, although 1 think we all have to agree that "The Wood Tick Snorkels" would be an excellent name for a rock band. So if Claire's teacher is correct about the wood ticks, it stands to reason that he is also correct about the average human eating six spiders a year, although I honestly can't remember ever deliberately eating a single one, even in college, I have asked around among my associates, and although some of them admitted that they have eaten crabs — which are biologically classified as "arthropods," which means "the same thing as spiders" — nobody could remember eating a spider per se. One possible explanation for this discrepancy is that, while most of us do not eat spiders, a few people — and here I am thinking of Martha Stewart — gobble them by the handful, thereby raising the national average. But the more likely explanation is that spiders are sneaking into our food supply. We have observed this type of behavior in certain other types of animals, specifically frogs. If you are a regular reader of this column and have been taking your medication, you no doubt recall my reports on the following doc- "So don't worry! Go ahead and enjoy your favorite dish! Unless your favorite dish is squirrel brains." umented incidents: • In 1993, a New Hampshire consumer found a deceased frog baked onto a pretzel. • In 1995, a West Virginia consumer found a deceased frog in a frozen chicken Cantonese dinner. • Later in 1995, a consumer at a Mexican restaurant in California found a deceased frog in a taco. In journalism terms, the first incident constituted what we call an "outbreak" of frogs showing up in food. With the second incident, it became a "rash"; and with the third, it officially became a "wave." I regret to report that we now have to upgrade it to the status of "epidemic," because of a news item, sent in by alert reader Bill Starr, from the front page of the Feb. 12, 1997, edition of The Brazil (Ind.) Times, a newspaper that claims, cryptically, to have served Clay County for "over 108" years. This item concerns a man who was putting some sauce on a Taco Bell double-decker taco, when he saw something sticking out. He pulled on the thing, and discovered, to his shock, that it was — you guessed it — a knife belonging to O.J. Simpson. No, seriously, it was a deceased frog, which was taken into custody by the Indiana State Board of Health, which 1 imagine will assign it a public defender who will have it filing appeals at the taxpayers' expense for decades. But the point is: For every frog that is apprehended by the authorities, hundreds, perhaps thousands, escape detection and are eaten by consumers such as yourself. And it is entirely possible that if you were to open up the stomachs of those frogs, you would find that a certain percentage -- let us say 85 — contain spiders. Thus the scientific conclusion we must come to is: You eat spiders. Accept it! Lpo'k yourself in the mirror and say: "I am a spider- eater! No different from Martha Stewart!" You need not be alarmed about this. In the words of the American Medical Association:' "It is perfectly safe to eat spiders, unless of course one of them is a pregnant female, in which case you will become a giant buffet for several thousand hungry baby spiders looking to chow down on your pancreas." So don't worry! Go ahead and enjoy your favorite dish! Unless your favorite dish is squirrel brains. I say this in light of an Associated Press report, sent in by hundreds of alert' readers, concerning two Kentucky doctors, who wrote a medical-journal article warning, that eating squirrel brains — which are con-.' sidered a delicacy in parts of Kentucky — can be dangerous, because the squirrels might be carrying a form of mad-cow disease. The AP report states that "cooked squirrel brain is about the size of a ping-pong ball and is said to taste something like liver, only mushy." £ It further states that Kentucky hunters kilf : and eat 1.5 million squirrels per year, and- that some people also cook road kill squirrels^ which is alarming because "a crazed squirrel may be more likely to dash into traffic and geti killed." This report raises some troubling'' questions, including: ' ;' 1. Since when do squirrels have brains? " ', 2. Have squirrels and cows been mating?!; How? 3. Doesn't a person who eats road kill ro-.' dent organs pretty much deserve to die? •! 4. What percentage of these squirrels have"' recently eaten frogs? I think Oprah should do a show on this im-i- portant topic and get slapped with a huge law-J suit by the Kentucky Squirrel Ranchers Association. Because we are talking about the pub-' lie health here; we cannot just ignore it and' burrow our heads into the sand. But if we do/ we should remember to breathe like wood: : ticks. •; • Dave Barry is a humor columnist for the" Miami Herald. Write to him c/o Tropic Maga-^ zine, The Miami Herald, One Herald Plaza Miami FL 33132.
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