Page 4 Pharos-Tribune, Logansport, Indiana, Tuesday, March 29, 1988 Opinion The free exchange of ideas is the greatest protection of liberty. Civil Rights Reagan was wrong There was a lot of heat and some light this past week in Washington generated by fundamentalist groups that sizzled the phone lines into congressional offices. What they were upset about was the pending override of a Reagan veto on a civil rights restoration bill. The hyperbole was astounding. The bill, four years in the making, was designed to restore the civil rights guarantees that were lost in the supreme court's Grove City decision. The 1984 decision essentially said that federal protection against discrimination extended only to the department that received federal funding, not to all of the programs that an institution runs if it receives federal funding. Moral Majority and other fundamentalist religious groups were calling congressmen at the rate of 80,000 per day, contending that the veto override would force churches to hire AIDS infected homosexuals of any religious persuasion. That was an exaggeration. It continued to protect classes already protected by federal legislation — minorities, aged, handicapped — from discrimination. Churches would not be subject to the bill unless they received federal funding for some program. How many churches receive federal funds? And a better question: why would a church practice discrimination? Future action will now give us all a better insight into just what effect the vet override will have. Public Forum In their shoes It's important for parents to teach their young right from wrong, good health habits, and about the handicapped people in this world. Help your child understand that some children and adults have special problems that require special needs and help. These special problems in no way lessens their right to dignity and happiness. Empathy, compassion, patience and understanding could be the most important lessons your child may ever learn. Handicapped people have feelings, a sense of humor, talents and hobbies just like you. Explain to your teen that handicapped teens go through the pains of puberty, too. They worry about pimples, like posters and rock and roll, just like your teen. Handicapped children work puzzles, like to color, love hugs and Grandma, just as much as your own youngster does. Someone who has an unsteady gait, looks different from others or speaks in a tedious way should not be scorned, shunned or sneered at. Genetics, an accident or a health problem sealed a fate for them that could have just as easily been you or your child. The handicapped struggle to survive in a world that WE have trouble coping with. They bravely meet the challenge of daily living with the odds against them... within imperfect armor. Education begins at home. Teaching your child about the handicapped will bring the reward of deeper maturity to them, and a greater compassion toward all people. Ask yourself and your child to walk a mile in their shoes. Susan Loehmer 101 Mall Road Handgun control The recent editorial, and letters concerning legislation on handgun ownership, cop killer bullets, and plastic handguns have been of great interest to me. I'm a member of "Handgun Control," a citizens organization of over one million Americans working to keep handguns out of the wrong hands. Polls have shown that the majority of Americans favor rational, federal handgun control laws. Handgun control is working to show this to Congress. It's time our legislators passed bills which would strengthen our federal handgun laws. The technology to make an all plastic handgun is available. Let's not wait until they are being mass produced and every terrorist and emotionally disturbed person in the world is free to carry an undetectable plastic handgun through airports and other sensitive areas. Congress should act now to outlaw plastic guns. If you'd like to join the over one million supporters of "Handgun Control," please write to Handgun Control, 1400 K St., Washington, D.C., 20005. Sincerely, RichardL. Lapcheska 519-13thSt. In The Past One Year Ago Maria Von Trapp, 82, whose life inspired the classic musical "The Sound of Music,'' died. Ten Years Ago T-shirts were deemed controversial that read "Participant, Southeast Asia War Games, 1961-75, second place. Public Forum Policy ETTERS Intended for publication should be addressed to Public Forum, 517 E, Broadway, Logansport, Ind., 46947. Each letter 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. James J. Kilpatrick Post Office! Turning it private WASHINGTON - When the White House handed out copies of the privatization report last week, a reporter at the end of the line voiced a cynical question: "Do we really need another doorstop?" It was good for a laugh, but the report, if only Congress would take it seriously, could serve a much better purpose. In point of fact, the Report of the President's Commission on Privatization runs to only 276 pages. It doesn't weigh enough to stop a door. Its value lies in a number of sensible and generally modest recommendations for transferring certain federal functions to the private sector. Half a dozen proposals have to do with the U.S. Postal Service, and these alone would justify careful consideration of the report as a whole. The trouble is that in this politically surcharged year, neither Congress nor the press is likely to pay much attention to the commission's findings and recommendations. In the section dealing with postal services, the commission repeatedly emphasizes that shifts toward privatization must take into account the interests of the postal workers. The powerful postal unions, with roughly 680,000 members, can be expected to fight like pit bulls against the proposals anyhow. The public ought to take a closer look. Since 1845 the federal government has maintained a monopoly on the handling of letter mail. The USPS insists that it is doing a good job, and it points to surveys that indicate general public satisfaction. If it ain't broke, the saying goes, don't fix it. Within the Postal Service, both management and labor contend that privatization would be a mistake. Private companies, it is said, would cream off the most profitable services, leaving the government with skimmed milk. Mail would be poorly protected; foreign mail would be delayed; rural areas would suffer. The forwarding of mail, following a change of address, would present formidable obstacles. Thousands of postal workers — perhaps hundreds of thousands — would be laid off. In the United States, it is said, a postal monopoly is a "natural monopoly." It cannot be made more efficient. The commission's report addresses these fears and convincingly puts them to rest. Today's postal service is not a monopoly at all. In 1979 "urgent mail" was exempted from the statutes prohibiting private express, with the result that Federal Express last year carried 178 million pieces of mail. The USPS long ago surrendered in the matter of parcel post; the privatey owned United Parcel Service now controls 90 percent of the parcel market. Thousands of services, such as the cleaning of postal buildings and the sorting of bulk mail, now are performed under private contract. The commission recommends that the old private express statutes be repealed, but "there must be a gradual phase-in period with compensation of postal workers and postal management for loss of benefits or earnings." Such a period is politically imperative. Postal workers are paid an estimated 21 percent above comparable jobs in the private sector. The general idea would be to reduce the labor force by attrition, not by wholesale dismissals. In any event, "employees should be active participants in the decision-making process." Several restrictive statutes, in the commission's view, should be repealed immediately, without waiting on a phase-in period. The handling of catalogs and junk mail under third-class rates should be made available to private entrepreneurs. By the same token, rural routes should be put up for competitive bids at once. Under existing statutes, it is unlawful to use letter boxes for any item that does not bear postage. This prohibition "is an unnecessary barrier to competition and an imposition on the rights of citizens." With these changes in federal law, the commission believes a wide variety of private services would spring up. One company might specialize in deliveries within an individual city. The privately owned UPS, Federal Express and Purolator Courier would compete on a national basis. It needs to be kept in mind that 92 percent of all first-class mail either comes from or goes to businesses. Under the system envisioned by the commission, large mailers would contract with private carriers who offered the best service. After an expensive phase-in period, savings estimated at $4 billion to $12 billion would be achieved. Philosophically the proposals are sound. Politically they are extremely difficult. And because politics counts for more than philosophy in Washington, don't hold your breath until the Postal Service goes private. It's a good idea, but its time hasn't come. Kilpatrick is a syndicated columnist based in Washington, D.C. Marianne Means The Veep: How about Simpson? WASHINGTON - Ex-President Richard Nixon's advice to Vice President George Bush on the selection of a running mate is cranking up speculation over the only mystery left about the 1988 Republican ticket. Nixon suggests White House staff chief Howard Baker, an able, respected former presidential candidate who is a reassuring mainstream politician and understands how to work with Congress. Baker, however, gets only mixed reviews for his stewardship of the Reagan twilight and has long been anathema to the party's right wing. Bush could.do better than listen to Nixon, who had two chances to pick his own running mate and did poorly both times. Nixon's first choice in 1960 was United Nations Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, primarily to provide geographical balance. Lodge, however, gratuitiously pledged to put a black in the Cabinet and hurt the ticket in the South. Nixon's second choice in 1968 was the memorable Spiro Agnew, a fellow with loose lips who was forced to resign the office in disgrace to avoid a potential jail term. But Nixon's not the only one floating ideas about the best candidate for vice president on a Bush ticket. Republican National Committee chairman Frank Fahrenkopf recently suggested three governors and an ex-governor — California's George Deukmejian, New Jersey's Thomas Kean, Illinois' Jim Thompson and Pennsylvania's .Richard Thornburgh. Disappointed supporters of New York Rep. Jack Kemp, who recently dropped out of the presidential contest, are trying to organize a boomlet for him. Other conservatives yearn for former United Nations ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick. Admirers of Elizabeth Dole, former Secretary of Transportation, mention her as an alternative to her husband, Sen. Robert Dole, whose own presidential candidacy is barely breathing. But they all have political liabilities. No one has yet proposed the Republican with the most to offer not only as a vice presidential candidate but also as a future president — Senate whip Alan Simpson of Wyoming. So I hereby do so. Bush, unlike most presidential candidates, has the luxury of great political flexibility in the selection of his running mate. Having speedily sewed up the nomination, he has such a broad base of support within his party that he is free to ignore pressure groups and pick whomever he wants. Bush has the rare opportunity to select a veep with whom he is personally and philosophically comfortable, who is experienced and intelligent enough to become president, whose loyalty and conservative credentials are unimpeachable. Simpson, 56, more than the others mentioned, fits that broad criteria. In theory, running mates are selected because they are supposed to bring something to the ticket. They add philosophical and geographical balance. They carry a crucial state or help with an entire region. They unite the party by adding the strongest runner-up to the team. Nixon himself, however, once observed that few voters pay much attention to the vice presidential candidate and the best that can be hoped for is that he's not prone to mistakes that could damage the ticket. Simpson, despite his influential Senate leadership role, is not very well known nationally. But he is popular in the nation's capital not only with fellow politicians but with the press, an asset few Republicans can claim these days. Simpson was, for instance, the Republican speaker at the annual Gridiron Club dinner for the nation's top editors and publishers this week; his Democratic counterpart is New York Gov. Mario Cuomo. The lanky, 6'7" solon is widely regarded as a modern Will Rogers, a home-spun western cowboy who is quick with a quip and keen observations on his fellow man. Unlike Dole, who is also fast on the verbal trigger, Simpson is good-natured, gentle-mannered and thoroughly disarming. But he is far more than an amiable comic. He has, in a scant decade in the Senate, also earned a reputation as a diligent and intelligent legislator, among the top dozen or so who really make a difference in that stultified body. His major triumph was the most sweeping immigration law reform in two decades, which took him six years to pass. "He does not only bear the title of senator, he behaves like one," liberal Democratic presidential candidate Paul Simon once enthused about Simpson, although he disagrees with him on practically every issue. As a vice presidential candidate. Simpson could be counted upon to display the kind of absolute team loyalty that Bush himself has shown the past eight years. An ardent administration defender during the Iran-contra scandal, he once accused the press of trying to "stick it in his (Reagan's) gazoo," a rare undisciplined excess of language he later acknowledged regretting. As the offspring of a former Wyoming senator, Simpson is a true son of the Old West, the one region in which Bush can claim no roots. He's a certified conservative, although more prone to compromise than confrontation. He could provide a bridge to Congress, which a President Bush saddled with the ill will of the Reagan years would badly need. Furthermore, this guy can make a humdinger of a speech that won't put you to sleep. What a refreshing plus that would be. Means is a syndicated columnist based in Washington, D.C.
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