The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on September 30, 1996 · Page 4
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 4

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Monday, September 30, 1996
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A4 MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 1996 THE SALINA JOURNAL George B. Pyle editorial page editor Opinions expressed on this page are those of the identified writers. To join the conversation, write a letter to the Journal at: P.O. Box 740 Sallna, KS 67402 Fax: (913) 827-6363 E-mail: SalJournal ©aol.com Quote of the day, "We knew we couldn't put them anywhere alive. • We decided to put them someplace dead." Tom Landwehr Minnesota . wildelife official talking about the decision to kill Canada geese for food for homeless shelters OPINION By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal Good times never last THE ISSUE The state budget THE ARGUMENT AW should heed budget director's warning P eople running for state and federal office are eager to promise us nothing but good times ahead — if only we will elect them. But people who roll up their sleeves and crunch the numbers know better. Among those who know better is Gloria Timmer, Gov. Bill Graves' budget director. It is her job to make the numbers in the state's bank accounts add up at the end of the year, even though she has no power over what decisions the Kansas Legislature will make to bring in or spend money. Last week, Timmer told a legislative study committee that the state is in the black and looks to stay that way for at least a little while. State departments have held the line on costs and corporate income tax collections, boosted by a one-time windfall from the settlement of a lawsuit, are up. But it is Timmer's job, whenever she delivers good news, to drag lawmakers back to reality as quickly as possible. Last week, she did her job. The state is chugging along as well as it is, in part, because it is reaching into its savings account in order to cover increased expenses without raising taxes. That cannot go on much longer. By fiscal 1999, Timmer projects, the state will have an annual margin of some $11 million out of a general fund budget of more than $4 billion. That's not much cushion. And the situation won't even be that good, Timmer said, if the economy goes into a recession any time soon. It is only the unheard-of record of 63 straight months of economic expansion that has kept the rate of state income increasing. And 63 straight months of economic expansion is, undoubtedly, too good to last. No matter who gets elected president in November, no matter who takes over the Kansas Legislature in January, the steam is likely to go out of the economy some time soon. Of course, we can survive that. We've survived worse. But not if politicians — Democratic and Republican, in Topeka and in Washington — plan to keep spending money on our behalf without raising taxes. The expanding economy has allowed governments to do just that for the last few years. The problem is that some politicians — including Bob Dole and Kansas lawmakers eager to cut property taxes — are offering us tax cut plans based on the idea that an expanding economy will fill the gap and allow us to balance the books without massive spending cuts. It's possible. But it ain't likely. The fact that Dole's tax cut plan has not caught fire with most voters demonstrates that Timmer's spreadsheets are reflected in the people's common sense. . The voters should join the budget director in demanding that politicians of all stripes stay in touch with reality in their budget plans and promises. Let them know • SEN. SHEILA FRAHM: 141 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D,C. 20510 Phone: (202) 224-6521. • SEN. NANCY KASSEBAUM: 302 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C, 20510. Phone: (202) 224-4774, • REP. PAT ROBERTS: 1126 Longworth House Off Ice . Building, Washington, D.C. 20525. Phone: (202) 225-2715. LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL P.O. BOX 740, SALINA, KANSAS 67402 Perot offers the people a real choice For many years the American people have wished and hoped for a true American patriot and hero. For that place in history, the Reform Party gives us Ross Perot. He Is one candidate who has already proved his love for the American people and his concern for the future of this nation. Can we believe in the candidates of the two major parties when we remember that their support of NAFTA and GATT sent American jobs overseas? Can we believe that Kansas Republican Bob Dole and President Clinton are dedicated to America when they accept contributions from foreign lobbyists and allow endless numbers of immigrants to flood our land? Can we believe in the Democratic Party that once represented the working- and middle-class people when we see that their campaigns are financed by special interests? Will we continue to support candidates from the Republican Party whose interests have historically been directed toward big busi- ness? We will hold to account the Republican Party for its plan to discredit Ross Perot and his children during the election of 1992. As we can vividly recall, the Republican Party has caused havoc and pain to numerous presidential candidates during our lifetime. Reform and new ideas are long overdue in this country of ours. Which of the three parties can supply these? We must ask ourselves, even if the polls have become more accurate than before, if our conscience would allow us to vote for the candidate that may get the most votes or if we want to cast our vote for the person we consider to be the best choice for the job? This November we finally have a chotee. It's finally not a choice of "the lesser of two evils." The poor and the middle classes of America may not represent the greatest possession of wealth in this country but they do represent large numbers at the polls in November. Our mottos will be "Remember NAFTA and GATT" and "America first." — ANNA NEUSCHAFER Enterprise c CRAZET5 AVtN6B? CONtONOJT, WD6E-6MB.J V JOURNAL Promise Keepers come to Shea Stadium Rally is like a Radio City religious pageant staged by George Patton N EW YORK — For any fan of the New York Mets, there is nothing extraordinary about the sight of men praying at Shea Stadium. But the praying I saw there Sept. 21 was beyond major league. Some 35,000 standing, waving guys shouted their love to Jesus at a decibel level unknown even in Shea's occasional brushes with a pennant race. During a marathon rally of sermonizing, singing and praying, the men also repeatedly sobbed and hugged each other — or, more joyously, slapped high-fives while repeating the chant "Thank God I'm a man!" What I was witnessing was the New York City debut of Promise Keepers, possibly the fastest-growing spiritual phenomenon in America, Founded The New York Times by the former University of $ Colorado football coach Bill McCartney in 1990, this all-male, all-Christian movement, which attracted 4,200 participants to its first rally in 1991, now has a $115 million annual budget and expects to draw a million men to its stadium rallies this year. In February, Promise Keepers staged what is believed to be the largest meeting ever of American clergy (some 39,000, again men-only) in Atlanta, prompting McCartney to be named "Per- T UNCOMMON SENSE FRANK RICH son of the Week" by ABC News. In the faU of '97, PK, as its members call it, will stage its own "million man march" on Washington. Avowedly apolitical, PK says it aspires only to bring men to God, to make them better husbands and fathers and to further racial reconciliation. How noncontroversial can you get? But of late PK has aroused the concern of many who monitor the far right. Alfred Ross, who researched Planned Parenthood's early, pre-Oklahoma City warnings about the militia movement, says that PK is the heir to Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority and Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition as "the third wave of the religious right's assault on American democracy and values" — a view he airs in the current issue of The Nation. The journalist Fred Clarkson writes in his forthcoming book, "Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy," that PK is "the most dynamic element of the Christian right of the mid-1990's" and "a front and recruiting agency" for its political ambitions. These and other critics cite PK's anti-feminist call for men to "take back" power from women, its cult-like psychology and its military-modeled organization, with its proliferating network of local cells. Particularly ominous are the many ideological and financial links between the PK hierarchy and organizations that are pushing the full religious-right agenda of outlawing abortion, demonizing homosexuals and bringing prayer and the teaching of creationism to public schools. Though some Christian groups have decried PK for its "generic," nondenominational Christianity, Falwell and Robertson are enthu- siastic supporters. McCartney himself has ad-; dressed the militant anti-abortion group Operation Rescue and called homosexuals "an abomination of almighty God" while campaigning for the passage of Colorado's anti-gay Amendment 2, thrown out by the Supreme Court this year. The main PK texts are not only endorsed but also published by James Dob-' son's Focus on the Family, the powerful, radio- driven theocratic crusade that is to the right.of' the Christian Coalition and has twice its mem-; bership. The Promise Keepers I met at Shea seemed more motivated by a Robert Bly-esque hunger to overcome macho inhibitions and reconnect with God than by any desire to enlist in a pd- : litical army. But an army PK most certainly is. Its preachers sound more like generals and hard-charging motivational cheerleaders than clergy. Every music cue, crowd maneuver and sales pitch for PK paraphernalia is integrated into the show with a split-second precision that suggests a Radio City religious pageant staged by George Patton. The Rockettes, so to speak, are uniformed female "PK volunteers" who run the cash registers and supervise garbage collection at lunch. The mainstream media, meanwhile, mainly cover PK as a human-interest story. But if the press was right (and it was) to ask how the leader of the last, black Million Man March might exploit that event's honorable goals and participants for his own insidious political aims, surely it's past time to apply the same scrutiny to a mostly white million man march of equally controversial provenance and potentially far greater political force. Let us be pro-choice on education Government schools simply are not doing the job we are paying them to do O nce during the Middle Ages disgruntled students at the Sorbonne advanced to the lectern, stabbed their professor to death with their quill pens and wrote out their grievances with his blood. Now that's real education reform! Chrysler Corporation President Robert Lutz also wants reform, though less radical than the Sorbonne affair. In a speech to the governor's "education summit" in Michigan, Lutz said it is time to stop fooling ourselves about government schools. They are not doing the job the taxpayers are paying for and are unlikely to improve unless education follows the example of business and engages in competition. Standardized tests in Michigan show 40 percent of fourth- graders failed to get acceptable scores in reading. Unsatisfactory achievement in math was recorded among many of the state's seventh-graders. To his credit, Lutz is participating in forming the Alliance for Children's Education which will send volunteers into Michigan schools in an effort to tutor underachievers. But in his speech, he said that tutoring is not enough. Just as the goal of automaking is to produce CAL THOMAS Los Angeles Times Syndicate good cars at competitive prices, so, too, is the goal of education to produce people with the knowledge and skills to succeed in an increasingly competitive world. Does it makes sense, he wondered, that virtually everything else, including the once-monopolistic phone company, is competitive and our public schools are not? "Competition is the core process in the natural order of things," said Lutz, who noted that the United States spends considerably more resources on education than any other nation in the world, but gets- diminishing returns on its investment. Lutz charged that education requirements have been "dumbed down" so as not to injure students' self-esteem and added, "I believe that self-esteem comes only from hard work and legitimate achievement. I think failure is a wonderful teacher, and that shielding a student from failure is a form of child abuse as cruel as denying him encouragement." How's this for a reality check concerning outcome-based education — watered-down curricula and grading techniques — which is the rage in some circles: "There's no such thing as 'outcome-based' competition to make sure nobody's feelings get hurt. The real world is not a padded romper room at McDonald's. It has edges to it." No, Lutz said, teachers are not responsible for family break-ups and other social problems that can undermine students' abilities to perform in school. Usually, he said, critics of government education are told they judge U.S. teachers unfairly, especially when being compared to other nations' educational systems. Lutz replied that fairness has nothing to do with it. Speaking of Detroit's recent past, Lutz noted, "The cars coming out of foreign factories were better than ours. The customers are only interested in the end product — not the problems that we have producing it or the advantages our competitors enjoy that we don't." In the '70s, he said, "Chrysler was public school. The other guys were Country Day arid St. Margaret Mary." Unfair to compare? "Fairness is irrelevant," says Lutz. "(Private) schools produce what we say we want." To those who claim school choice would irreparably harm public schools, Lutz said the opposite would occur: "Competition won't kill public schools. But in many cases it will force them to V:t differently, to adopt different priorities, to make needed changes, to cut costs where they are wasteful and to devote more resources where they will-do more good, and to become more customer-focused." : Sputnik put America on the moon, he said. ' Toyota made Chrysler a success. Federal Ex- • press made the U.S. Post Office self-sustaining. Children get self-esteem from success, he said. "I was appalled to hear that syntax and . spelling get in the way of self-expression, and ' that protecting a child's self-esteem is more important than developing his mind." Maybe there's a place for people who sit around feeling good about themselves but can't write a coherent sentence saying why, but Lutz thinks school is not that place. He's so right it's beyond argument. If the union monopoly were broken, everything would improve — from the students to the teachers. Isn't it worth trying? III iSBURY By G.B. TRUDEAU AWPOTFOK OURAIPS WJSWN&P S1KESSBP...

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