The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on September 7, 1994 · Page 260
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · Page 260

Los Angeles, California
Issue Date:
Wednesday, September 7, 1994
Page 260
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La?' ANGELES TIMES WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 1994 B13VC Comifisfitary DRAWINGEOARD CONRAD Clinton's accomplishments. Clinton's popularity. Facing Up to Consequences lor a Castro Crash Landing Cuba: U.S. pursues a hard line t but hasn't thought it through; a ! soft outcome is more in our ; interests and the Cubans1. Hi J BylZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI J, The Cuban regime is in its terminal i stages. The critical issue is whether its I final gasp will be violent or relatively benign. American policy must make the strategic choice. As things are now headed, a bloody fccfiisn landing for the Castro regime is becoming more likely. U.S. sanctions are intensifying social and political tensions on the island. An explosion could occur soon. What then? If an anti-Castro revolution succeeds "gtyickly, the outcome may be beneficial to ,te United States as well as to the Cuban "people themselves. The 35-year-old Western r Hemisphere communist experiment YC)11 have gone up in the smoke of the final funeral pyre for the failed Marxist Utopia. It would be a fitting Gotterdammerung for a .egime dedicated to violence. ,j,3ut the explosion may not succeed. ,5stro is not only the Stalin of the Cuban revolution; he is also its Lenin. He does uiv considerable residual loyalty, not wjly among the ruling party-army elite, ,bjit also within some sections of society. -j-It is also conceivable that Castro, faced with the realization that U.S. sanctions are stimulating an uprising, may use the cur- oiP migration first to weaken the opposition and then to deliberately provoke an explosion that he can then more easily "Cfush. What then? Will the Clinton Administration, which has made so much of the idea of "restoring" democracy to Haiti, sit ' back and do nothing while Cuban freedom Igliters are crushed? Or will the United "States launch an invasion of Cuba to finish The current policy of imposing inten-..sjfying social hardships on Cuba while Condemning its regime thereby also causing a greater outflow of migrants . wakes sense only if the U.S. goal is to precipitate Castro's early fall. In that case, '.Jhe United States must be ready to follow ; through on the strategic logic involved, trwhile, indeed, rebuffing any Cuban proposals of wider negotiations. SHn effect, the strategy of precipitating a crash landing also requires, as a last resort, clear-minded U.S. determination to invade Cuba. Since there is reason to doubt that the Clinton Administration is deliberately embarked on that course and even more that it would be willing to launch a supportive invasion, the U.S. rebuff to Cuba's overture for wider negotiations on the "true causes" for the flood of migrants makes little sense. A wiser and more effective response would be to seize the opportunity of the Cuban offer and pursue a soft - landing strategy. The Cubans have indicated that they would be prepared to contain the migratory outflow upon a positive American response to their proposal and that would defuse the urgent problem posed by the migration itself. But the U.S. -Cuban talks should not be limited to the issue of migration alone. Instead, they should be exploited to advance the soft-landing strategy by setting in motion a more deliberate, somewhat longer-term process designed to manage in a more benign way the terminal phase of the Castro regime. Attractive political and economic alternatives could be put on the table. More specifically, the United States could propose a schedule for the staged introduction of democracy perhaps on the model of what happened in Poland in 1989 as well as a similarly staged economic-aid program (including a step-by-step lifting of the embargo), designed to alleviate the immediate suffering of the population and then to stimulate economic recovery. Such an initiative would gain the support of much of Latin American public opinion, along with European backing, especially from Spain. These reactions would make a negative response by Castro more costly for him. A refusal by Castro at this stage the more likely response might help to mobilize support for the U.S. initiative even on the part of some Cubans who otherwise would support Castro in a final showdown. That would further weaken and isolate the old dictator, enhancing the prospects of success for any eventual popular revolt against his regime. There is little to be risked by exploring the soft-landing option. And much to be gained, especially by the Cuban people. Zbigniew Brzezinski was the national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981. PERSPECTIVE ON THE MTA Shift the Spending to Buses The rate increase may not be discrimination, but it is at least a misrepresentation of the efficacy of rail transit. By JAMES E. MOORE II US. District Judge Terry Hatter's decision to respond to the LaborCommunity Strategy Center by freezing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's bus-fare increase does more than focus public attention on one of Southern California's wealthiest, most influential bureaucracies. Even if the MTA persuades the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse Hatter, the rules of the transit game won't ever be the same. From a public-policy point of view, Hatter's restraining order creates new incentives for public agencies to remain accountable for the quality of their decisions. It is a new experience for the MTA. Few circumstances more clearly , demonstrate the differences between public- and private-sector decisions. The fundamental priorities of all organizations, public or private, are survival -and growth. Private-sector organizations accomplish this by providing a competitive product at a market price. If they are unsuccessful, the organization does not survive and the firm's resources are freed for other enterprises. For private firms, inferior decisions mean economic death. Public agencies must follow more complicated rules, using costs to justify short-term funding requirements and the political process to justify new projects. The sales taxes imposed by Los Angeles County Propositions A (1980) and C (1990) deliver between $700 million and $800 million per year to the MTA, which uses this local -funding commitment to justify its requests for public revenue from other sources. The authority returns 25 of Proposition A funds and 20 of Proposition C funds to local governments for transit-related projects, providing the MTA with considerable control over local transportation agendas. It is no surprise that local governments have been quick to endorse MTA positions. Such consummate command of non-market procedures has provided the MTA with more than 10 years of rapid growth and an annual budget in the neighborhood of $3.7 billion. Unfortunately, the MTA has no real incentive to control costs or to structure transit services to serve those most in need. The large subsidies and budgets associated with inefficient projects like rail systems provide very perverse temptations for upwardly mobile, growth-minded bureaucrats. The university research community has been blowing its little ivory whistle over such outcomes for 30 years, with no substantive effect. Hatter's action may prove much more important. The relevant body of law favors the authority, but the scrutiny needed to resolve the suit that prompted Hatter's ruling will also serve to pierce the MTA's political smoke screen. A close look at the MTA's activities will reveal a thorough disregard for external research, a chilling political sophistication and a casual willingness to misrepresent the efficacy of rail-transit systems to the electorate; but it will not reveal a conscious intention to discriminate in a way that violates the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. It is unlikely that the plaintiffs will be able to demonstrate that the MTA proceeded with the purpose of discriminating against any group. The MTA finds itself in an ironic position. The equity argument usually serves the MTA well, allowing the agency to explain away impressive inefficiencies in the name of fairness. The special twist in this case is that the MTA's standard refrain offers the agency no shelter in the case of increased bus fares. Higher bus fares hurt the poor most, and now the poor have banded together to hire attorneys. , The greatest irony is that the suit, Hatter's stay and the MTA's appeal are all unnecessary from a fiscal perspective. The MTA has painted itself partway into a rail corner, but the agency still has more spending flexibility than it professes. Fully 40 of the revenues generated by Propositions A and C may be spent at the MTA's discretion. This is on top of the funds returned to local government. The MTA has the latitude to immediately shift some of its rail expenditures to the bus system, particularly buses that run on highways. As this case suggests, Los Angeles is less likely than most communities to tolerate gracefully the mobility squeeze imposed by the busrail trade-off. The MTA should be much more reluctant than it is to increase the gap between the city's haves and have-nots. If the MTA expects to retain its legal monopoly on transit services, then the agency will have to scale back its rail projects and fund buses and the roads they run on. In the best case, Hatter's restraining order will give the agency sufficient political incentive to revisit its mission. The alternatives are bleak, including a long-term mobility crisis even the resilient citizens of Los Angeles are unprepared to face. James E. Moore II, USC associate professor of urban and regional planning and civil engineering, co-directs USCs Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies. In Praise of the Hedonistic Lifestyle Health: Don't let the puritans get to you; good living is OK in moderation, of course. By ART CAPLAN Enjoying yourself this summer? There are plenty of people who think you should not be. Health puritanism is running amok across the land. The new puritanism acquired its strength through victory in the long-overdue war on smoking. It picked up steam with the anxieties of the graying baby-boom generation, many of whom are slowly realizing they are mortal. A gaggle of health zealots is taking full advantage of the culture's collective neurosis about aging and death by extending their prig-gishness to every nook and cranny of daily life. Hardly a day goes by without a warning that sours what used to be a fun activity. Going to the shore? Forget it, the sun will kill you. Want to watch some TV? The programs will rot your brain, the electrical emissions will mutate your offspring and the couch you sit in might as well be decorated with a headstone. To my astonishment, a physician recently published a paper in which he takes direct aim at health fanaticism. His message is just what the doctor ordered: He wants you to have fun! Dr. James McCor-mick, professor of community health and general practice at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, issued his call to sanity in the August issue of the Lancet, a respected British medical journal. Does the good doctor urge us all to quaff yet another glass of celery juice or add still one more mile to our dreary morning jog? No, he does not. The doctor writes that the members of his profession "would do better to encourage people to live lives of modified hedonism, so that they may enjoy, to the full, the only life that they are likely to have." Yup, those of you who just gagged on your morning bacon or who cannot stop this page from jumping around because you are already on your second cup of coffee read the doctor's advice correctly. He said doctors should encourage you to have fun in moderation. The mob of people making a living as health Cassandras will not take a liking to McCormick's counsel. It does not square with their litany of anxiety-provoking pronouncements about whatever it is that might maim, mutilate, disable, disadvantage or annihilate you. Think about the warnings you are expected to absorb in any given month: Vitamins will kill you. The ozone can't protect you. The air is poisonous. Caffeine will deform your babies. Sperm counts are falling and no one knows why. There are additives in your milk that will cause you to grow a tail. Bran won't save you unless you wear the box on your head to cushion the impact of the high volume of malicious celestial matter that is pointed straight at your noggin from all points in the galaxy. Cancer of the stomach, uterus, pancreas, liver and breast are inevitable unless you drink seven quarts of purified spring water a day. Even if you turn yourself intoJa human fire hydrant, you are only delaying the inevitable fatal fall in your bathroofia, stabbing by a co-worker or stroke, aneurysm or cardiac arrest of unknown origin,'; One might conclude that the roles once played in our culture by abstract ideas of hell, limbo and eternal damnation have found secular expression in the somewhat abstract ideas of high blood pressure, bad cholesterol and ideal weight. McCormick's call for sanity in matters of health is rooted in solid scientific evidence. The benefitsiof a healthy lifestyle can be gotten as readily, he notes, from a life full of moderation as one of fanaticism. If health promotion is not fun, then it is hot worth it. Obsessing about your health is no way to live. And scaring others about small risks and dangers to their health is no way to make a living. Art Caplan is director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania'. DRAWINGBOARD DANZIGER JEFF DANZIGER, Christian Science Monitor The Sexual Harassment Jackpot i r -s K -mi- , Ridiculous legal awards and bad laws won't fill in for societal restraints. Women should speak up for themselves. By KATHERINE DOWLING . f all the legal jargon we've recently created in I an attempt to compensate for the moral s m principles jettisoned over tne last 3U years, no tfrnl is more absurd than sexual harassment, t People, just like other members of the animal kingdom, are attracted to one another to ensure perpetuation of the species. Since sexual attraction is such a powerful drive, civilizations have evolved 'i cultural norms to modulate it, and these norms are ' flouted only at great risk. To put it another way, sex is J fun, but it can have some unanticipated results, and i societies must come up with taboos to minimize their ' occurrence. In days of yore, a guy had to be ready to put unanticipated results through college or at least to teach them the family business before he indulged. Girls didn't get off easily either. They were instructed to wear appropriate clothing to avoid "leading a guy on" and to eschew excessive indulgence in certain beverages lest their innate modesty be washed away. Most people played by the rules. Then came the sexual revolution. Equality demanded that women be free to have sex whenever and with whomever they wished. Men no longer felt responsibility because women had all the tools to prevent any unintended results of the sex act. All of this new freedom was heady except for one thing: ' Women were perceived as having surrendered their moral right to societal protection. Overstepping the boundaries was no longer possible; there were no boundaries. So women sought protection from unwanted sexual intrusions through the courts. And thus was born the term sexual harassment. Now, I don't believe anyone, male or female, should have to tolerate behavior that makes them uncomfortable. Good manners demand that all of us try to respect one another's feelings. But we do seem to be overdoing it a little when it comes to taking offense from certain words, gestures and touches. (Rape is a crime of a totally different dimension and is certainly not to be considered in the same arena as sexual harassment.) Take the case of the 40-year-old San Francisco secretary who just hit the jackpot in her suit against a lawyer alleged to have inappropriately touched her and to have made lewd comments. This lady was able to extract from her touchy boss and all 1,700 of his legal associates $7.1 million in punitive damages. I suspect that most of those associates had no desire to similarly grope her and were guilty of only the remotest of associations with the defendant. Yet all were punished. This case, if upheld, could establish a legal precedent with the force of law. And speaking of laws, one sits on the desk of Gov. Pete Wilson at this very moment Apparently groups like the National Organization for Women, California Women Lawyers and others feel that there is little recourse when people other than one's employer grope or make lewd comments. Infliction of emotional distress being a hard thing to prove, they've opted to push for a law making actionable unwelcome sexual comments uttered in the course of a professional relationship such as dentist- patient or collection service-debtor, if the plaintiff has requested that these comments cease. Note that no groping need take place. The clear implication in this law is a sexist one, namely that males are the professionals and females the clients. In point of fact, most women doctors in a recent study reported instances of "sexual harassment" by one or more of their patients. According to this law, these physicians could sue their patients for three times the financial loss they incur , through this harassment. But who would be sued? The patient's managed-care plan? Blue CrossBlue Shield? Medicare? Badly written laws that attempt to make up for the shortcomings of a society that has thrown away its natural decorum concerning sexual matters can ' only do more harm than good. They make people "l vulnerable to false accusations, present the risk that misinterpretation of a casual comment may result in . litigation and promote the Victorian image of women;"' as frail and fragile flowers who swoon when , four-letter words are in the air. Let's fight the battle that needs to be fought, for ' equality of opportunity. But let's not get sidetracked in the process. If you're lucky enough to elicit admiration from the opposite sex but find this admiration unwelcome, well, you've got a tongue! If things get . t physical, there already are laws to protect you. And lest I be justly accused of chauvinism, let me add that ! you buff guys who silently suffer the unladylike stare$ and comments of female escrow loan officers and financial planners have recourse even if Sen. Tom ! Hayden's bill escapes Wilson's pen, as do those ! undergoing same-sex "harassment." Lets all treat r, each other with respect and common sense and cease !' this legal demonization of those whose chromosomes !, may be a little different from our own. . r Katherine Dowling is a family physician at the USC ' School of Medicine. J- t . 4

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