Page 4 Pharos-Tribune, Logansport, Indiana, Monday, March 28, 1988 Opinion The free exchange of ideas is the greatest protection of liberty. Mexico Debt Not a good deal The "great Mexican debt retirement plan" has fallen flat. Contrived by advisors at the New York bank, Morgan Guarantee Trust, and Mexico's Finance Ministry and approved in Washington as "a constructive creative contribution to solving the Third World debt problem," the program was supposed to cut by about $10 billion Mexico's foreign debt of $108 billion to private bank, government and international lenders. Only 139 banks in 18 countries offered to exchange just $6.7 billion in debt for new debt with high yield bonds, backed by the United States, as security. The original plan envisaged banks offering to sell back $20 billion in debt for $10 billion, a 50 percent discount. The discounts offered on the $6.7 billion were so small that Mexico agreed to convert only $3.655 billion, just 55 percent of the amount proposed, accepting from only 95 of the 139 banks bids which proposed to discount loans by more than 25 percent. Even so, the average discount as barely more than 30 percent. Mexico's international bank debt will be cut by $1.1 billion in what experts outside Mexico, Morgan and the U.S. Treasury called "a good deal for Mexico and Morgan Guarantee" but a bad deal for banks. Bad as most bankers considered the deal, it was even worse for American taxpayers. It was described as being cost-free to them. Yet the plan envisaged Mexico buying from the U.S. $10 billion in zero coupon bonds which pay no interest until maturity for $2 billion. Then our Treasury would pay $10 billion to Mexico to redeem the bonds with U.S. government revenues — taxes. Instead of shareholders losing investments because of bad judgment by the bank officers they hired, our descendents were to be called on 20 years from now to subsidize the bankers' mistakes. Alternatives, from debt moratoriums to debt-for-equity swaps, have been offered. Any which doesn't destroy the international monetary system is better than increasing the financial burden which people who can only see the here-and-now want to impose on the future. Public Forum Mall plans On page three of the March 22 publication of the Pharos-Tribune, was the drawn plans of the new National Bank of Logansport's new addition. Great! I welcome the idea of the drive-up facility and all that goes with it. (And it's also where I do my banking, and more convenient for me personally.) BUT can you just picture the scene at that location on a Friday night, for example? Just imagine all those cars lined up at the bank drive-in lanes and all those people who parked out in the designated parking lot, trying to squeeze between those cars in line to avoid an extra two block walk. Now anyone who knows human behavior will understand that people will always take a shorter route to wherever they're going; that also includes "little people" also known as children. How many children will be injured before the draftsmen of this plan realize they should have placed the drive-in bank elsewhere on the premises, NOT in front of the main entrance? Now if the plans are carried out as such I will always park on the north side of the mall, so will a lot of other people. Ha! Ha! Yours truly for a better world, Nola A. Leazenby 3007 Valley View Drive Berry's World I'VE FINALLY FIGURED OUT WHAT In The Past One Year Ago Indiana defeats UNLV 97-93 in the semi-final round of the NCAA tournament. Twenty Years Ago The Key Club at Logansport High School circulated a petition requesting the installation of a traffic light at 13th and Broadway. Public Forum Policy JU ETTERS intended for publication should be addressed to Public Forum, 517 E. Broadway, Logansport, Ind., 46947. Each letler must be signed and must include the writer's address and a telephone number where the author can be reached. The Pharos-Tribune reserves the right to edit letters for clarity, spelling errors and libelous statements and to limit the number of letters from an individual author. "Thank-you" letters are not accepted for publication. Public Forum letters must be limited to 400 words or less. Marianne Means Convention: It could be a lot of fun © 1988 by NEA. Inc. WASHINGTON — There's no good reason why we should buy Gov. Michael Dukakis's notion that '' a divided, brokered Democratic presidential convention would be a disaster" any more than the voters of Illinois did. In fact, a good convention fight might be a whale of a lot of fun. If it's handled right, it could get the Democrats favorable nationwide attention that the Republicans won't be able to match with a pre-ordained, dull coronation of Vice President George Bush. Democracy in action and all that. The way Dukakis uses the expression "brokered convention" it comes out sounding like a dirty word. It conjures up visions of six white, middle-aged party bosses huddled in a smoke-filled room arbitrarily picking a nominee for his looks or his connections or some other factor having more to do with their own whims than with his qualifications to be president. What Dukakis really meant, of course, is that he wanted to lock up the nomination early so he wouldn't have to battle it out with his rivals on the convention floor in Atlanta in July. Illinois Democrats refusedjBiJ'db him the favor, preferring to keep a favorite son, Paul Simon, alive to see what might happen later. Traditionally, a brokered convention is one in which no single candidate arrives with enough delegate strength to win on the first ballot and the contenders must bargain with each other until someone puts together a majority bloc. But we haven't had a presidential convention of either party that went beyond a first ballot since the Democrats took three votes to pick Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson in 1952. The entire nominating process has changed a great deal in the intervening 36 years. The most important transformation is that the old-style, unelected bosses who used to control the state delegations are gone. The brokers at a convention now would be the candidates themselves, using the delegates they won in the primaries and caucuses as leverage to convince others to back them or to win the second spot or some other desirable post for themselves in return for abandoning their cause. It would be practically impossible for an outsider who had not campaigned as an announced contender, even such a Democratic star as New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, to play a major role in that game. What has made the difference is the proliferation of primaries and their increasing importance. To earn the nomination, candidates now are expected to demonstrate in advance that they can actually get people to vote for them. In 1952, primaries were not a decisive factor. In fact, the only candidate who had entered ail the primaries, Tennessee Sen. Estes Kefauver, was rejected by the convention in favor of President Truman's personal choice. Stevenson. But a series of reforms the past couple decades greatly expanded public participation in the selection of presidents and transformed the conventions primarily into ratifying bodies. They mostly spend their time arguing about credentials or platform planks destined to be ignored by the new president anyway ; As recently as 1968, there were only a dozen primaries. But this year there are 35, as well as caucuses that are designed for easy public access. This heavy primary schedule poses a tough physical, financial and strategic challenge to the candidates. But it has the advantage of testing the nominees and their ideas before the autumn battle with the opposite party. It is also an inherently messy process, but then nobody ever thought politics was supposed to be tidy. If Democratic voters cannot agree before the delegates meet upon the man they prefer, as the Republicans have so swiftly done, so be it. It will simply elevate the role of the convention to unaccustomed importance. Nothing wrong with that. It prolongs the amusement. Some political experts fear that extending the divisiveness will hurt Democratic prospects for capturing the White House. But the danger of a split party lurks in any political struggle of any duration, if the level of the debate turns nasty and personal. If Democratic Party leaders really lust for the presidency, they will pull themselves together in a show of unity for the general election no matter what happens at the convention. If they can't manage that, they are in no shape to govern anyway. The convention system, which was not born until 1831, has evolved gradually over the years from a small gathering of powerful insiders into the ultimate televised campaign rally, attended by thousands of activists. Normally, the convention spectacle provides the nominee with an immediate boost in the polls. This year the Democrats have added a new twist that could influence the outcome if no one has sewed it up in the primaries or in pre-convention maneuvering. Because of their party standing. more than 600 "superdelegates" who are at least nominally uncommitted have been designated. These officials — governors, members of the Democratic National Committee and four-fifths of the Democratic members of Congress — will occupy 15 percent of the delegate seats at the convention. H.L. Mencken wrote more than a half century ago, "There is something about a national convention that makes it as fascinating as a revival or a hanging. It is vulgar, it is ugly. it. is stupid, it is tedious, it's hard upon both the cerebral centers and the gluteus maximus and yet it is somehow charming." That description will certainly apply if the Democrats go to their convention in a muddle about the nominee. Means is a syndicated columnist based in Washington, D. C. Jeffrey Hart The Whales: Make Japan stop the killing With a few honorable exceptions, such as Theodore Roosevelt and former Senator James Buckley, American conservatives have not been notable in the ranks of those of linguistically close description: conservationists. It's not exactly "Let the animals go to hell." Rather, it's that conservatives see something genuinely sinister in some of the environmental factions, like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, a utopianism that does not deal in necessary trade-offs — between, say, some ugly medical research with monkeys and the possibility of curing cancer. (Admittedly there is frivolous and cruel laboratory use of animals.) But as far as this conservative is concerned, the Japanese are pulling a fast one and should be called to strict account and made to obey the international agreements they have in fact signed. Under the terms of the International Whaling Agreement, to which Japan is a signatory, Commerce Secretary William C. Verity, Jr. has now declared Japan in violation. A Japanese whaling fleet in the Antarctic is in the process of slaughtering 300 Minke whales for alleged "research" purposes. However, the whale meat will be sold commercially to suppbrt the "research." If you buy that, you will buy Mount Fuji. The Japanese like to eat whale meat, and the expedition is a commercial one. The Japanese rationale that the research is necessary to study the Minke replacement rate is just a lot of Sushi. According to the whaling accords, once Verity has declared the Japanese in violation, President Reagan has 60 days to tell Congress what he is going to do about it. If he plans to do nothing, he is required to tell Congress why. Japanese fishing rights in U.S. waters could be restricted or eliminated, but since they are minimal and constantly violated anyway, his is not much of a sanction. We could close U.S. markets to Japanese fish products. The trouble there is that the fishing industry is one of the few in which we have a favorable trade balance with Japan. But this in nit-picking. The Japanese in fact are tremendously sensitive to bad publicity — "saving face.'' And some of them know on what fragile foundations their prosperity is based. Fisheries Minister Sato has said that if criticism becomes accelerated, "we will reconsider our decision at that stage." The International Whaling Commission has declared Japan in violation. Secretary Verity has made the necessary declaration to President Reagan. Let's "accelerate" the criticism, as Sato phrases it. This conservative is entirely opposed to Japan-bashing of the demagogic Richard Gephardt type. Yet Gephardt is scoring points because the Japanese have begun to emit an aroma of arrogance in their international dealings, and even have made implicit claims to racial superiority. This, while the U.S. Navy and 'U.S. taxpayers protect Japanese oil-import routes. Our own domestic investment lags in some part because of money spent to undergird Japan's prosperity. In fact, Japan would sink beneath the economic waves within 24 hours if U.S. markets were closed to their products. Remember the sad lesson of Admiral Yammamoto, Japan, and lay off the whales. Hart writes his column for King Features Syndicate. Today In History HISTORY HIGHLIGHT Today is Monday, March 28, the 88th day of 1988. There are 278 days left in the year. ON THIS DATE: • On March 28th, 1979, the worst U.S. commercial nuclear accident occurred inside the No. 2 reactor at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island power plant. A cooling system malfunctioned, damaging the reactor's core and leaking radioactivity. On this date: In 1797, Nathaniel Briggs of New Hampshire patented a washing machine. In 1834, the U.S. Senate voted to censure President Andrew Jackson for the removal of federal deposits from the Bank of the United States. In 1930, the names of the Turkish cities of Constantinople and Angora were changed to Istanbul and Ankara. In 1939, the Spanish Civil War ended as Madrid fell to the forces of Francisco Franco. In 1941, novelist and critic Virginia Woolf died in Lewes, England. In 1942, during World War II, British naval forces raided the Nazi-occupied French port of St. Nazaire. In 1943, composer Sergei Rachmaninoff died in Beverly Hills, Calif.
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