The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 18, 1995 · Page 4
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 4

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Thursday, May 18, 1995
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A4 Thursday, May 18,1995 VIEWPOINTS The Salina Journal the Serving Kansas since 1871 Journal Republicans deliver on budget promises HARRIS RAYL, Publisher GEORGE B. PYLE, Editorial Page Editor SCOTT SEIRER, Executive Editor JIM HAAG, Assistant Editor BEN WEARING, Deputy Editor TIM FITZGERALD, Sports Editor BRET WALLACE, Associate Editor MARY JO PROCHAZKA, Associate Editor BRAD CATT, Associate Editor Editorial Opinion Not so fast Graves resists rushes to judgment G ov. Bill Graves, already thinking ahead, has listed four projects at the top of his list for the coming year: • A report of the ramifications in shifting reliance from property taxes to state sales and income taxes. The study would be drafted by a special panel appointed to research the issue this summer. • Further limits on the state's $7.8 billion budget, although the 1995 Legislature added to Graves's request for a spending increase of more than $120 million. • Recommendations, with specifics, on the closing of one of the state's three hospitals for the mentally retarded and one of four hospitals for the mentally ill. • Improving efficiency within the executive branch, including Graves the governor's office. It's a familiar list, reminiscent of agendas that have plagued other administrations. The state for generations has nursed a reluctance to junk the property tax. We cultivate the paradox of demanding that government both provide for us and leave us alone. We want the state to end waste unless it means ending local jobs. Governors all want to be everything and more, leading the charge with fewer, leaner troops. In these matters, history has not been kind to Kansas governors but Graves's chances are better than even. In his first year he has shown a capability to withstand the clamoring of fadmongers, the scheming of crowd pleasers. He has a temperate and capable staff. He is backed by a keen and articulate lieutenant governor. Most important, Graves comes across as one not to be rushed. In these delirious times, the state's best guard against the chant of impatience is a governor who is tone deaf. journal Comments If you have a comment for the editorial page writers or an idea for an editorial or column, you can leave your thoughts on Journal Line, any time of the day or night. Just call Journal Line at 825-6000, enter category 1550 and follow the directions you will hear. This line is intended as a way for readers to contact us easily. If you need us to get back to you, be sure to leave a daytime telephone number. Letters for publication should be sent to Letters to the Journal, P.O. Box 740, Salina, KS 67402. They may also be faxed to (913) 827-6363, or sent by e-mail to SalJournal@aol.com. 'LINE 1 EimaaromanaMasMirtniaanHM Letters to the Journal Concealed weapons would increase crime Would carrying a concealed gun reduce crime? Do you know it is legal to openly carry a gun in Salina? You do not need a permit. Any of us could wear a gun and holster as we go about our daily business. Why don't we? Somehow it doesn't seem appropriate or necessary. Do you know it is illegal to carry a concealed gun? We somehow assume 'that it is not appropriate or necessary either. However, there are a few people in our community who feel a concealed gun would ensure personal safety and prevent potential crime of some sort. . I submit carrying a concealed gun would cause more crime. Simply example: A man and woman go to a local tavern for beer and dancing. The man tends tp be overly possessive. The woman is attractive, friendly and uninhibited. During the course of the evening after some beers, another man appears too friendly. • A scuffle follows with fist-fighting and bottle throwing. In the days that followed there was intense scrutiny of the incident, behavior and attitudes; resulting in useful counseling with positive attitude and behavior change. ;Now recreate the scene with the added dimension of concealed guns. ".Are cooler heads more or less likely to prevail with or without guns? Are you in favor of registration, licensing and a sensible national system to monitor gun sales and violence or not? Are you in favor of individuals unequivocally monitoring themselves or not? — GARY SWARTZENDRUBER Salina Fitzgerald should stick to sports Some time ago a Journal subscriber wrote to suggest Tim Fitzgerald's comments should appear only on the sports page and not on the editorial page. After reading Fitzgerald's April 29 column, I tend to agree with the reader. In this diatribe, Fitz obviously suffers from an acute case of high-mindedness, not to mention self-satisfaction. The very word "liberal" seems to send him into convulsions and his hatred of the president apparently has no bounds. He continues with the old, weary, worn-out argument that our problems, all of them, can be traced to those vile, despicable, traitorous liberals, forgetting that for about 20 out of the past 27 years the White House was controlled by the conservatives who surely must shoulder R epublicans may play a mean, low-down political trick on Democrats still railing at proposals to stem the tide of red ink: to put the budget submitted to Congress a few months ago by President Clinton up for a vote. You may remember his punt-and- pray, you-go-first budget — not only was it "dead on arrival"; it was dead before sending. That was because Clinton made few choices needed to slow the growth of the deficit. Instead, he projected another trillion dollars in debt over the next five years (even assuming steady growth and low interest rates, which won't happen if such government borrowing continues apace). Everyone knew the Clinton budget was not to be taken seriously; it was his way of saying "you won the election; you balance the budget." Rarely do presidents so completely abdicate their economic responsibility. He changed "the president proposes, the Congress disposes" to "the Congress proposes and disposes while the president treads water." However, to ingratiate himself with the voters who rejected his party, he included a me-too tax cut in that budget. That compounded his mistake. Now we are engaged in a great budgetary war. Contrary to Clinton's expectations, the feisty GOP House and the sobersided GOP Senate met his challenge and came up with what Democrats considered impossible: seven years to budget balance. Nor do the GOP proposals "cut" actual spending; they follow the precept of the Civil War general to a gunner to "elevate them sights a little lower." But it is undoubtedly a Mort Sahl budget. ("Is there anybody I haven't offended?") The lobbies of geezers and greens, of veterans and farmers, of root casuists at Justice and corporate welfare queens of Commerce are stunned. You can feel the moral high ground William Safire some of the responsibility for the mess we're in. Fitzgerald blasts the president for his remarks on talk-show hosts, but Clinton, for all his mistakes, and he's made plenty, was right about the deadly words that come from these demented screwballs. I have a sneaking suspicion the Republicans were just waiting for such a statement from Clinton so they could pounce on him and cry "Foul!" That tactic is as old as the pyramids. Do talk-shows really spread hatred among the populace? Consider the recent incident in San Bernardino, Calif. After the Oklahoma City bombing, the general manager of Radio KCKC-AM, dropped G. Gordon Liddy's show. Immediately the station was bombarded by bomb and death threats and one caller warned the radio employees, "You are all going to die!" to which the manager could only reply, "My God, what is wrong with these people?" Fitzgerald's words will not help calm our troubled waters. Hate? "Fitz's Forum" fairly bristles with it. He tells us the truth is on his side, but truth is always on the side of the self-righteous and the moralistic. So perhaps we should banish this guy to the sports section where he can spend his time totalling up strikes, balls, home runs and ribbies and direct his ire towards the coaches, players, owners and umpires. Considering the present state of baseball I think Fitz would make an excellent spokesman for the game. — ROY LIVENGOOD Salina T-shirt 'corruption' is all in the mind I would like to respond to a letter I saw in the paper concerning "Co-ed- Naked" T-shirts. I was disappointed to hear what the person had to say. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so here is mine — what you see is what you understand but what you visualize is what you convert. In other words, these shirts are only what you make them out to be. The term "collective intelligence" was definitely misused in this matter. An innocent T-shirt is not going to affect one's natural ability to learn. Therefore it should not be an issue of this debate. Whatever happened to judging someone by the inside and not the outside? Don't turn something out to be a horrible thing, if it's really not. The only way these shirts become offensive, is when a "corrupted" mind changes it into the disgusting thing one wishes it to be. — STEPHANIE REINERT Salina I Settle for spending restraint first, tax cuts later. move. Having smugly asked "what's your specific alternative?" — and having received a serious answer — Democrats now find themselves embarrassed at being asked the same question. All they have in the way of an answer is the old Clinton budget, which won't do. If Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich bring the coagulated Pablum of that Panetta- Rivlin compromise to a vote, Congressional Democrats will be forced to desert Clinton, lest they go on record as deficit doves. That's why you can sense a Democratic fallback position in preparation. Farewell to Clinton's long-promised "middle-class tax cut," now seen by Congressional Democrats as a wrongheaded response to the electoral debacle. Those unreturned billions will be proposed to be sprinkled over endangered liberal programs — national service's subsidized volunteers, public broadcasting, education under federal standards, the arts, another veterans' hospital, etc. — to shore up core constituencies and show Democrats resisting this year's sanhedrin of skin- Hints. This means the debate is no longer between budget balancers and the defenders of debt. It is now between balancers including a tax cut (with spending restraints in the near years) and balancers without a tax cut (with a slowing of spending back-end- loaded). That's a huge shift in argument, as borrowing is no longer seen as a gift to our old but as a theft from our young. The best way to redirect our nation is with the stronger government spending restraint plus tax rate reduction; as Napoleon advised a temporizing general, "If you are going to take Vienna, take Vienna." However, with the veto power still in Democratic hands, conservatives may have to settle for spending restraint first, tax cuts later — in effect, taking the suburbs now and the citadel in 1997. What is the immediate political effect of this rightward shift in the debate? It means Perot voters no longer need a third party to express their disgust with the unwillingness of major parties to come to grips with the deficit. Of five United-we-standers, three are likely to go Republican, one Democratic, one home. Smart Democrats understand this, ; which is why Bill Clinton keeps taking credit for having reduced the deficit last year. It is why Democrats are now abandoning the "deficit as percentage of GNP" weaseling and are scrambling to- get aboard the anti-deficit bandwagon. And it is why Republicans are so eager. to make certain you know the impetus for budget balance comes from them. Detroit's enterprising Chambers brothers T he remarkable Chambers brothers rose from grinding poverty in the Arkansas delta to running a retail trade earning $1 million a week in Detroit. This was in the mid-1980s, when the automobile industry was shrinking and the city was losing a quarter of a million jobs and a fifth of its population. The four brothers' enterprise had revenues larger than any other privately held business in the city. This story of ghetto capitalism is told in a virtuoso exercise in reporting, William M. Adler's new book "Land of Opportunity." Adler details how the brothers, without benefit of education beyond their high school in the nation's sixth poorest county, identified a market niche, mastered wholesale buying and mass production and risk analysis, monitored cash flows, devised employee benefit plans, performance bonuses and customer incentive plans. Adler admires the way the brothers' leader, Billy Joe, "refused to settle for passivity and hopelessness" in Lee County, Ark. Billy Joe is now earning $5 a month in the kitchen of a federal prison where he will be for at least another 20 years. Yet Adler, a terrific reporter and a terrible ethicist, says Billy Joe and his three brothers, who also are in prison, made "a rational career choice" when they became pioneers of the age of crack cocaine. Adler is not averse to moral judgments. He vigorously disapproves of "the Reagan-Bush era's domestic spending policies," "the wealth-obsessed culture," "the decade's cult of money" and so on. But Adler's honest reporting vitiates his ideological judgments. Billy was 16 in 1978 when he bought a one-way bus ticket to Detroit where his brother Willie was a postal worker. Soon Billy was working his way up in the drug business, and with some help from Willie. "By 1982," writes Adler, "seven years as a letter carrier and his prudent way TORY NOTIONS George F. Will THE WASHINGTON POST "When a crackhead comes to you and his woman is on his back, his babies don't have no Pampers, he hasn't eaten in two days, and he's about to spend his last $5 on crack, you have to make him feel good about spending his money." with a dollar had left Willie with a tidy nest egg." And an eye for cheap real estate he saw as he delivered mail. Willie bought some inexpensive houses. Soon they were distribution centers for the family drug business. By 1984 one was a crack house "pumping" $35,000 a day. It is a bit much to blame Republicans for Willie's choice of a criminal career. And brother Larry had made that choice in 1969, long before "the decade of greed." When the youngest brother, Otis, came to Detroit to join the moneymaking, crime was a family tradition. Crack came to the United States from the Caribbean, where a dying crack addict had said to a Bahamian doctor, "When the world tastes this, you're going to have a lot of trouble." It got to Detroit late in 1983. In that year about 100 people were admitted to Detroit clinics for treatment of cocaine use. In 1987, the year the Chambers' business peaked, about 4,500 were admitted. Between 1983 and 1987 emergency room admissions linked to cocaine rose from 450 to 3,811. In 1987, Detroit's murder rate peaked, half the murder victims age 40 ' and under had cocaine in their systems. 1 By 1986, Adler writes, Billy Joe and ' Larry were folk heroes, "the Lee lacoc- • cas of the crack business." Children played games of "BJ and Larry." Larry, ran a drug dispensing apartment house J where the doorman, who carried an Uzi 1 , was admonished by Larry to project warmth to customers: "When a crackhead comes to you and his woman is on his back, his babies don't have no Pampers, he hasn't eaten: in two days, and he's about to spend his last $5 on crack, you have to make him feel good about spending his money." . Larry was stern with disobedient employees (he had hot grease poured on • one) and his "wrecking crews" would "hammer" people who displeased him. Adler tells about Dennis, one of Larry's j; wreckers: *• "(Dennis and colleagues) grabbed (thejj victim's) wrists, held them to the con- J crete floor, and pummeled his hands t with hammers. Then they hammered hisi! feet, his knees. The kid lost conscious- { ness. They hammered his ribs. They left* him in the garage. Dennis says he heard* later the injuries left the young man I'. paraplegic, never to walk again. Dennis £ says he felt bad about the beating, but £• that 'I did it because it was part of my »";! job and I wanted to move up in the orga« nization and I wanted a (Ford Mustang )»• 5.0." £ To say, as Adler comes close to doing*-! in his otherwise illuminating book, that *• the Chambers and their friends were £' only obeying social imperatives or cul- p! tural promptings is today's version of ?£,; the Nuremberg defense — "I was only J:;obeying orders" — that was offered in «£ 1946 by people who for a while thought "••; they had made rational career choices. Doonesbury WHICH ONE* UJW7&WDI? TOO-TALL? UWTA TATTOO, KIP! BY TH& . AU&W HAPTHR&l

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