Page 4 The Salina Journal — Wednesday, November 18,1981 Opinion The Salina Journal »/ Shed no tears for these folks It may seem like kicking somebody when they are down on their hands and knees, but Salina's lending institutions should feel no remorse at turning their backs on Seward County homebuyers who wanted to share in Salina's $10 million mortgage revenue bond program. Salina and Seward County each had the opportunity to ask for as much as $40 million in MRB funds when the program got off the ground a few weeks back. It seemed to be a good idea to bring the 13-percent mortgage money into the community, but unstable economic times made the lenders a little hesitant about over-committing to the program. If a lender over-subscribed to the program and was left with unused MRB funds, the institution would pay a financial penalty. It was a risk, but most lenders in the home mortgage business considered it a reasonable one. Six Salina lenders thought it was worthwhile enough to subscribe to $10 million, most of which has been used for Salina mortgages. Seward County lenders, however, apparently overreacted to the risk, taking only $500,000 in MRB funds to be used by home- buyers in that southwest Kansas area. Worse yet, they agreed to share the funds with Garden City, reducing the amount available to Seward County borrowers even more. When their funds were quickly snatched up, Realtors in Seward County asked Salina lenders to dip into Salina's $10 million MRB issue and write mortgages for Seward County borrowers. Our lenders resisted, causing Seward County officials to accuse them of bad faith. Lenders here were reluctant to service mortgages for homes located at the far end of the state, and they also wanted local homebuyers to have ample opportunity to use the money first. Seward County Realtors and homebuyers who are suffering now because there isn't enough 13-percent mortgage money should be venting their wrath on the lending institutions in their own community. Salina's lenders took the risk on their $10 million, and Seward County had the same opportunity. Now, it all boils down to Seward County wanting to share in the rewards of Salina's program, without having to risk anything. In these days of double-digit interest and economic queasiness, that is far too much to ask. Everyone right In the opinion department, no one is ever wrong. Opponents, naturally, will disagree, but that doesn't make the opinion wrong. No matter what position a person may take, he can always find evidence to support his viewpoint. Look, for example, at the running battles on shopping malls in Kansas. Salina, Hutchinson, Topeka, and other cities have been locked in a serious, emotional war over the malls. The public debates rage in the newspapers and over the air waves. Downtown merchants fear enclosed malls on the outskirts will deteriorate the core area and rob them of their livelihood. Many developers would rather build on the rim. The shopping public is caught between the two forces, on one hand preferring the ease of parking and the convenience of shopping in a climate- control atmosphere, and the fear of downtown deterioration and the subsequent declining tax base. The vested interests find statistics and examples to support their positions. Banners of free enterprise and save-the-downtown are waved freely by both sides. Everyone is right. No one is wrong. Or take the many, varied, and extravagant Biblical arguments or the debate between the evolutionists and the creationists. Any scholar can find within the Bible quotations, sometimes taken out of context, to support his position. Or the hotly contested battles on human relations ordinances that attempt to set up local enforcement against dis- By Lloyd Ballhagen President, Harris Newspapers crimination in business. The businessman fears judgment by a radical local panel that will discriminate against him, and advocates of the ordinances cry for an end to discrimination in the work place. Again, both opnions are correct. Whatever the argument, AW ACS to Saudi Arabia, neutron bombs, nuclear plants, or euthanasia, the positions of the pros and cons are valid. And there is evidence to support both viewpoints. Participants who wish to take sides (many others are neutral or don't care) decide which side stacks up the most facts and logic to support their cause. Sometimes. But most times, they support the position that favors their own vested interest or their own philosophical outlook on life and politics. Winners in opinion wars usually overcome the opposition with power in the form of numbers, wealth, or facts. A better solution, of course, is compromise, too often ignored. Each side must concede something and admit that, while its opinion is valid, it will win more in the end by surrendering a portion of its righteousness. Letter to the Editor Speak out to save traditions DEAR SIR: This letter is written to the people of Salina. We live in Salina, Kansas, USA, which means that cer- 'ain things are important to us that my or may not be important to other immunities. Salina is a religious com- n.unity which means that we have certain traditions which are of value to us regardless of the laws which the state or local school board may use to remove these traditions from our community. This letter refers to the present consideration of our local school superintendent and school board to establish a policy which would no longer allow the Gideons to make Bibles available to students and which would Diogenes and David Stockman WASHINGTON - It was told of the late Diogenes (412-323 B.C.) that toward the end of his days he walked barefoot through the streets of Athens, holding high a lantern. He was looking, so he said, for an honest man. He must have found very few, for they called him Diogenes the Cynic. If the old boy were alive today, I would be tempted to lead him barefoot up the steps of the Executive Office Building and down the marble corridors to the office of Budget Director David Stockman. Hold up your lantern, friend! You've found your man. Mr. Stockman is going through hell these days as the consequence of an article about him in the December issue of The Atlantic. By his own description, he has been taken to the woodshed by the president. He has become a splendid target for the political cartoonists. The word around town is that he has "lost his credibility." The beleaguered budget director will lose no credibility among those who take the time to read the whole of William Greider's masterly article, and do not simply read about the article. What did Mr. Stockman say that was so awful? In essence, he disclosed that here in Washington, politicians play politics. In the name of all the angels and the saints, what games are politicians supposed to play? Pinochle? Tiddlywinks? Idealistic views As a two-term member of the House from a rural district in Michigan, Mr. Stockman had acquired an elementary knowledge of these things. Nevertheless, he came to his high office last January with an idealistic vision of the federal budget as it ought to be. Plainly, the principal entitlement programs — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps, educational grants, retirement benefits — were out of control. Unless these could be capped, in the fashion of gushers in an oil field, there would be no hope of balancing the budget and reducing rates V STOCKMAN REHASH JEN SECDMDS AND COM1N6 ,„ NINE, EIGWt, SEVEN,,,' of inflation. The budget director held another conviction. Over the long haul, a healthy economy could be restored only by tax cuts, especially for industry and for wealthy individuals, that would provide the fresh capital and incentives on which rising productivity would depend. Thus Mr. Stockman went to work. What Mr. Greider's article brilliantly depicts — and what articles about the article have obscured — is the frenetic pressure chamber in which the Reagan budget revisions were developed. Under the calmest of circumstances, projections of revenues and outlays are little more than the casting of entrails or the reading of tea leaves. The budget director needed some numbers the administration could sell. He put together some plausible figures and plunged into battle. His tactics had to be based on shock and surprise. It was a wild time. By James ]. Kilpatrick Syndicated Columnist Over a period of months, Mr. Stockman discussed his crusade with Mr. Greider. Honest confession led to honest reporting. Deals had to be struck: Majority Leader Baker had to be stroked with the Clinch River reactor. Congressman Sonny Montgomery could be kept in harness through veterans' benefits. Little by little, the budget director shed his illusions. He watched the special interests go to work — Big Business, Big Oil, Big Sugar. "The hogs were really feeding. The greed level, the level of opportunism, just got out of control." So what else is new? It was doubtless impolitic of David Stockman to talk.so candidly with a reporter. But there was nothing really wrong — and much that was right — in his acknowledging that "supply-side economics" is no more than the "trickle-down theory" in a different dress. It's the same old 'coon, as a Virginia statesman used to say, with another ring around its tail. Mr. Stockman is suffering all. the pangs and bruises of a quarterback who has just been sacked, but he is a tough little fellow and can put the experience behind him. After the immediate dust subsides, he may find.him- self, humbler and wiser, benefiting from a fresh respect. Through the literary offices of Mr. Greider, Mr. 'Stockman has now publicly committed truth. In this politically foggy town, let us hail a lantern's beam. Political damage is yet to be assessed WASHINGTON — President Reagan's decision to keep Budget Director David Stockman on the job sounds final enough. But it really can't be chiseled in stone until the extent of the political damage has been assessed. And that may not be possible until early next year. Stockman's sin, in what he called his "careless rambling" to a reporter, lies not in the practice of political hypocrisy but in exposing that hypocrisy for all to see. Everyone here who is the least bit sophisticated about the way things work has understood all along that the Reagan tax program was a quintessential example of Republican "trickle- down economics" — you help the prosperous and eventually some of the benefits trickle down to those at the lower end of the scale. Stockman's mistake was in allowing himself to be caught out admitting as much in so many words. Similarly, it has been apparent all along that the budget of the Defense Department has never been subjected to the same kind of scrutiny that domestic programs have received. But "knowing" that is one thing, and it is quite another to have the leading budget-cutter of the White House admit the Pentagon was given a "blank check." The political damage to President Reagan may occur on two quite different levels. The most obvious, of course, is in dealing with Congress on further budget reductions and tax proposals. The Democrats can be expected to question By jack Germond and Jules Wif cover Stockman, and other administration witnesses as well, on whether they are being presented another "Trojan horse" economic proposal. The Democrats can be expected to remind voters repeatedly that there has been this glaring difference between the public and private rhetoric of the Reagan White House on these critical questions. The Reagan image It is at this level, with the voters, that the greatest potential for political damage seems to lie. One of Ronald Reagan's prime strengths as a politician and leader has been his ability to project himself as a straightforward and sincere figure. As his own closest advisers always remind everyone, what you see is what you get. But now a compelling case can be made that what you hear — from Reagan's budget director if not from the president's own lips — is not always quite what he means. The question also quite naturally arises as to whether a president can be truly so straightforward when those on whom he relies for advice are shown to be so manipulative. The political pressures growing out of the Stockman episode will be heightened by two elements of the context. One is the fact that we are entering an election year in which every member of the House has a highly personal stake. The other is the fact that doubts about the wisdom of "supply-side" economics already are epidemic, both in Congress and in the business community. Give the theory a chance In confronting those political fears and popular doubts, Reagan's greatest asset clearly has been the argument that the administration has embarked on a great economic experiment — a genuinely new approach to the persistent and vexing problems of inflation and unemployment. Opinion polls consistently show strong sentiment among the voters for giving the new president and his theories a chance to prove themselves. But now one of those considered to be a principal theologian espousing those theories has shown himself to be a private doubter. And this, in turn, can lead to suspicions that Ronald Reagan either shares those doubts himself or has been misled by those who are advising him. Neither of those is an image any president wants to project. Reagan is, of course, in a better position to protect his credibility than most politicians, simply because he has established such an extraordinary reputation even among his critics as a nice fellow full of good intentions. But nothing lasts forever, and the voters have demonstrated repeatedly that they are able to make distinctions between a candidate's personal qualities and his performance in office. The president and his political advis- ers are, of course, aware of all of these elements of the political equation of the Stockman affair. And so are the Democrats in Congress, who now have been handed ammunition beyond their wildest dreams. In the long run, however, the basic political question for 1982 is unchanged. If thd Reagan economic approach succeeds and that success'is visible to the voters early next year, it can be a very good year indeed for the Republican Party. But if the economy is still a serious problem by, let's say, late winter,- the Democrats now have a manifesto from the Atlantic Monthly to use as the text of their campaign. In that case, David Stockman may prove expendable after all. Meditations ."; * For we walk by faith, not by sight. •— H Corinthians 5:7. Christians trust God not because they have sufficient evidence, but sometimes in spite of the evidence that would discourage them. Where to write Sen. Robert Dole 4213 Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 * * * , Rep. Pat Roberts . ; 1428 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515 * * * •''•'. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum 304 Russell Senate Building Washington D.C. 20510 California real estate is auctioned off no longer allow the annual baccalaureate service for our seniors. Not only do we live in Salina, a religious community where the majority of its citizens appreciate these traditions, but we also live in America where the First Amendment guarantees our right to enjoy these traditions. Will the outspoken minority again prevail or will the silent majority of this community call, write and speak out in order that these traditions may continue? — JOSEPH E. GILLIAM, JR., 316 Scott. Letters Wanted The Journal welcomes letters to the editor but does not promise to print them. The briefer they are the better chance they have. All are subject to condensation and editing. Writer's name must be signed with full address for publication. Letters become the property of The Journal. SANTA MONICA, Calif. - From out of the West, which last year gave us "creative financing," comes this year's desperate gimmick to sell real estate: "Auction!" "Public Auction. Sunday, Nov. 1, 3 p.m." proclaimed the billboard in front of the Idaho-West Townhouses at Idaho and 12th streets. "Real Estate Auction. Nov. 7, 1 p.m." said the one in front of the cottage at 2361 Veteran Ave. in West Los Angeles. "Auction. Minimum Bids from $85,000. Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m." said the board in front of the townhouses at 8960 Cynthia St. in Hollywood. The signs are going up all over the Los Angeles area. "What else can we do?" said the woman from Uniwest Realty showing the townhouses in Santa Monica. "The builder can't keep carrying these things — he can't meet the payments at these interest rates." Fear a panic "The banks really already own a lot of these," said another builder, talking about the tall — and mostly empty — luxury apartments that were put up during the last few years along Wilshire Boulevard west of Beverly Hills. "But no one wants foreclosures to begin. You could have a panic." "Auction is the way they're going to be selling homes around here from now on," said Monte Garland. He said it happily, because he is an auctioneer and he was trying to sell the 14 Santa Monica townhouses to a crowd of 90 people gathered in and around them that Sunday afternoon. "It's not by choice; it's a necessity now. The builder is sitting on 22 percent money and a swing loan. If everything sells at the minimum prices, he will still lose $500,000." The two-bedroom townhouses were auctioned at minimum prices from $195,000 to $295,000 - Southern California still isn't cheap — after they had not sold at listed prices that began at $309,000 and went up to $433,000. Only seven of them sold that Sunday. Or, they appeared to sell. The buyers still had to pay a down payment and be approved by the bank handling Idaho- West's financing of 12% percent for the By Richard Reeves first five years of a 30-year mortgage. The last 25 years would be at a higher rate, a rate set by the bank on the day the sale actually closed. Seven of them didn't sell, and the lady from Uniwest said she didn't know what the developer would do next. No one is quite sure what to do next. Housing sales in California an off almost 40 percent from last year. And last year wasn't so hot. That's when creative financing was invented and then spread east across the country. People began trying to buy $500,000 homes with no money down, offering just a complicated series of second, third and fourth mortages. Sometimes it worked. In one case I know about, someone tried to l>uy a home overlooking the Pacific with -a bag of rubies — the catch was that the seller had to dispose of the jewels over five years and lie to the government, recording the sale at half the actual price to avoid taxes. The usual answer, I think, is going to be to do nothing. People here and elsewhere may be occasionally tempted; by auctions and bargains — and they may be auctioning off some of their 'own property and possessions — but lit general they are going to hunker down and wait. Wait for what? "I'm waiting; until these madmen are out of Washington," said a builder. Confidence is part of any economic program, but if there is any confidence left in Reaganomics but there, it's hard to find — even among people who enthusiastically voted Republican last year. Ronald Reagan may be lucky that , his own house in Pacific Palisades still hasn't sold. He may be needing it I again in about three years. Or, ' have to auction it off.
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