The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 9, 1986 · Page 4
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 4

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Thursday, January 9, 1986
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Page 4
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Opinion The Salina Journal Thursday, January 9,1986 Page 4; THe fe Journal Founded in 1871 HARRIS RAYL, Editor and Publisher KAY BERENSON, Executive Editor SCOTT SEIRER, News Editor LARRY MATHEWS, Assistant News Editor LORI BRACK, Weekend Editor JIM HAAG, Night Editor MARY JO PROCHAZKA, Associate Editor Doing it tomorrow A lot of people seem to assume that, if ruled constitutional, the Gramm- Rudman budget-slicing law will work. The usual scenario: The automatic, arbitrary budget cuts that Gramrn- Rudman would inflict are so universally abhorred that President Reagan and Congress will work to avoid them by making reasonable budget reductions or tax increases or both to meet the law's deadlines. But why should we believe Congress and the president would do this? Congress can easily undo what it has done. If Congress fails this year to address the deficit reasonably before Gramm-Rudman takes over, it can simply repeal Gramm-Rudman, or rewrite it, to avoid having to run the budget through the law's heartless number cruncher. Our prediction: Congress and the president will fail again to reduce the deficit significantly because Reagan will refuse to raise taxes or cut defense, and Congress will refuse to cut domestic programs as drastically as the president would like. When the first meaningful Gramm-Rudman deadline arrives in the fall, lawmakers will throw up their hands and scrap or revise the law, or subvert it through legislative chicanery. That's why Gramm-Rudman is a fake. It's just another way for lawmakers to say today that they will do something about the deficit tomorrow. When tomorrow becomes today, they know there will always be another tomorrow. Rhodes change needed The British who administer the prestigious Rhodes scholarships have decided, belatedly, to do their part in fighting unfair treatment of blacks in South Africa. The trustees plan to ask the British government for permission to change a provision that sends two scholarships each year to students attending all-white schools in South Africa. The move comes late and may have been forced on reluctant trustees by past and present Rhodes scholars who over the past two years have openly questioned the fairness of scholarship awards to South Africans. Recipients, mostly Americans and Canadians, had criticized the awards to schools that admit only whites, saying the labor of South African blacks built the fortune that finances the scholarship program to Oxford University. Cecil Rhodes, whose bequest established the awards, played a major role in expanding Britain's empire in South Africa during the late 1800s. He gamed virtual control of the world diamond production industry during his years in South Africa. The move by the trustees is wise, although belated, and the change should be made. The poor record of scholarships to blacks — who have made up just about a half dozen of the 700 Rhodes scholars from South Africa — is nearly as unjust as the country's record of apartheid, in which 5 million whites keep 24 million blacks powerless. Letters Let people decide Your editorial favors a Secretary of Agriculture appointed by the governor because he would represent the people more. Do you really think that someone appointed by a governor because he helped (either financially or through active party participation) elect that governor would really be more qualified to promote agriculture and deal with its problems? Rather then, let the people directly vote and elect a Secretary of Agriculture. That would actually put it in the voters' hands. — JOERIPPE Linn Balance budget There is a way to bring the federal budget in balance. No one seems to advocate it, so I will. A law needs to be constructed so as to reduce the entire federal spending by a percentage cut of 10% or more. It must have no exemptions except contracts where dollar amounts are specified and interest on the public debt, and even the latter might be shaved a little. With the newly passed mandatory yearly reduction, this percentage reduction of as little as 2 % as Congressman Pat Roberts has suggested to me, would be a good start. How about 2% each year? It would stop the axing of perhaps desirable Let them know... SEN. BOB DOLE, SH141 Hart Building, Washington, D.C. 20510. Phone: 202-224-6521. SEN. NANCY KASSEBAUM, 302 Russell Building, Washington, D.C. 20510. Phone: 202-224^774. REP. PAT ROBERTS, 1519 Longworth Building, Washington. D.C. 20515. Phone: 202-225-2715. REP. JIM SLATTERY, 1729 Longworth Building, Washington, D.C. 20515. Phone: 202-225-6601. REP. BOB WHTTTAKER, 332 Cannon Building, Washington, D.C. 20515. Phone: 202-225-3911. REP. DAN GLJCKMAN, 2435 Rayburn Building, Washington, D.C. 20515. Phone: 202-225-6216. REP. JAN MEYERS, 1407 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C., 20515. Phone: 202-225-2865. programs that do not have political clout which is going to occur immediately. Both parties can live with this with no bitterness. Included are the president down to me on Social Security and the welfare people. In desperation almost, the government went for the current debt reduction bill, now law. There will immediately occur this session in Congress a lot of fighting and bickering over whose critter is being gored when the axe begins to chop off little pieces of the bloated budget. If you, the readers, like this idea, inform your congressmen and senators. — MARION L. SWISHER Gypsum Good program, stories The Salina Journal is to be congratulated for its front-page series on the "Passport for Adventure" program. As a member of the St. Francis Boys Home board of directors and chairman of the client services committee, I have been impressed with the quality of staff from all over the U.S. this program has been able to attract. To me, this demonstrates the reputation the program has achieved nationwide. Our committee has received comments from parents whose children have been involved that said their child "is better able to keep his cool ... has a better attitude about himself... is setting goals for himself." We also hear from the teachers who have had students in the program that "the parenting skills the parents learned not only helped the child in the program but also were reflected in the way they handled the other children in the family." Salina is indeed fortunate to have such an outstanding program available for these at- risk children. Thank you for giving Passport for Adventure the recognition it deserves. — JOCELYN PALMER 1952RidgeleaDr. Letters The Journal welcomes letters to the editor but does not promise to print them. The briefer they are the better chance they have. All are subject to condensation and editing. Writer's name must be signed with full address for publication. Letters become the property of The Journal. Freedom is about tolerance, even for total jerks SCRABBLE, Va. - It's a bright winter day here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and at the end of a pleasant vacation I ought to be filled with sweetness and light. Permit me, instead, a few dour reflections on Edward Johnson of Atlanta. The gentleman is a jerk. Johnson recently leaped to notoriety and became an overnight public figure by his ingenious harassment of evangelist Jerry Falwell. You probably read about it in the papers. A computer consultant by trade, Johnson developed a passionate hatred of TV evangelists in general. He focused his obsession on Falwell, whose Moral Majority is the largest of the airwave religions. Eight months ago, Johnson rigged his Atari computer to dial the 800-number of Falwell's Old Time Gospel Hour in Lynchburg, Va. Johnson fixed it so the line would be silently tied up for 30 seconds; then the call would disconnect; instantly the computer would dial the number again. He kept this up for 24 hours a day until Bell System detectives last month tracked him down and threatened to deny him telephone service unless he stopped it. Falwell says Johnson's trickery cost his ministry at least $1 million in pledges from followers who could not break through the computerized barricade. Falwell is thinking of suing, and I hope he follows through. Federal prosecutors reportedly are considering criminal charges against Johnson under a statute that prohibits harassment by telephone. I hope they stick it to him. Johnson's vindictive stunt strikes me as representative of a kind of arrogant intolerance that is among the ugliest features of James Kilpatrick UNIVERSAL PRESS American life. This vindictive stunt is nothing new. Its manifestations go back to the Puritans of New England and the slave owners of the South. One thinks of Cotton Mather, Anthony Comstock, Andrew Volstead, Carrie Nation — zealots who defiled the ideal of a free society by forcing their own values upon others. Over the past 20 years we have seen the phenomenon repeatedly on college campuses. During the Vietnam era, it was almost impossible for any defender of our involvement to be heard at a major university. Students shouted down Hubert Humphrey and Gen. Lewis Hershey. The students professed to believe in "free speech," which they defined as free speech for themselves — but not for those with opposing views. The spirit of intolerance gets to be institutionalized. You may recall the long battle over the drug Laetrile. This was a formulation of apricot pits. Unless one swallowed a carload of the stuff, it was absolutely harmless. As a treatment for cancer, capsules of Laetrile probably were no more effective than so many gumdrops, but hundreds of terminally ill victims of cancer wanted to try the stuff as a last resort. Our government moved heaven and earth, through lawsuits, injunctions and criminal prosecutions, to prevent the dying victims from getting the unapproved drug. More recently we have seen other such efforts. Our government will make us spend hundreds of dollars on airbags for our autos, whether we want these dubious devices or not. A movement is afoot to ban cigarette advertising altogether because the surgeon general says cigarettes are bad for us. Half the states and many cities now compel motorists to buckle up. The anti-abortionists would absolutely prevent a woman from deciding whether to carry a pregnancy to term — and this ultimate imposition upon personal liberty is defended by, among others, Jerry Falwell. Nobody has a monopoly on intolerance. What has become of the ideal of a free society? In the matter of Johnson's sly knavery, I hold no brief for Brother Falwell. I never have met the gentleman. As a breed, sawdust evangelists give me the willies. But if people want to believe that Lot's wife literally turned into a pillar of salt, or that Jonah literally spent three days and three nights in the belly of that fish, fine with me. If preachers want to raise funds to propagate these literal convictions, a free and tolerant society would permit no impediment in their way. This is what freedom is all about. Up to a point, we ought to tolerate all sorts of ideas and all sorts of conduct. That point is reached, metaphorically, when the fist of A meets the nose of B. In the matter at hand, Johnson stepped over the line. His kind of intolerance, to put it bluntly, is intolerable. Cussing the wonderful, miraculous computer *''l'V\Jn ** nM«n..« n »_l TI T» 1 . > "This," announced Jim Beasley, our resident computer whiz, "is an EPROM." He held it between his thumb and forefinger. It didn't move, but looked as though it might. An EPROM is made of metal and stuff. It makes our computers work. An EPROM is what would happen if George Lucas asked Stephen Spielberg to make a small centipede. In the newspaper business, EPRpMs either make things happen or they become empires that strike back. EPROM is an acronym for editable programmable read-only memory. Somewhere in a factory, technocrats mold these things and with the tiniest instruments they make little circuits and use lasers to burn zillions of instructions into the backs and bellies of these Spielberg centipedes so that when we humans tell the computer to send these very words to other newspapers by microwave and satellite, they do it perfectly. Most of the time it beats changing a typewriter ribbon. When things go haywire, as they have recently, we fret over fires of our own making. In all business and across life, high tech is our angel of deliverance when it is not an instrument of the devil. There seems no in- between. In Washington, Congress has handed deficit management to a computer. The computer can take the blame; Congress can take the credit. Across Kansas, officials have begun to ask voters by mail. Want a new school, sales tax, jail? Mail out the ballots, wait for the returns and let the computer do the counting. We're a plugged-in society, and it hasn't happened overnight. We and our machines are the product of a half-century scramble that began with a machine needed to solve the equations of atomic power. The human mind simply could Doonesbury John Marshall HARRIS NEWS SERVICE not cope with the millions of precise calculations required to follow fusion and fission in a microsecond. No blackboard was big enough. Even the big machine IBM built for Harvard — with 500 miles of wire and three million electric connections — was not fast enough. But America, home of scientific innovation, would find a way and did. John von Neumann, a wiz whose hobby was building robots and mechanical toys, tackled the problem. He built a supertoy that could store 40,000 bits of "software" (computerspeak for data) and do three months of equations in a day. On the registered patent it was called Mathematical Analyzer, Numerical Integrator and Computer. By acronym, MANIAC. A high school senior who works Saturdays in this office recently was typing names and •addresses into a computer file for mailing labels. Her screen went blank. To her horror, so was the file to which she had been sending all those names and addresses. Beasley was summoned. He squinted and frowned at Tammy's terminal screen. He fiddled with her keyboard. "Sorry," he announced, "You had been typing in'no-scroll.' " In other days, Tammy would have been guilty of typing with no paper in her machine. But with the computer, the tiniest slip of a finger by a touch-typist can mean disaster with no alarms to warn. So her work was for naught. Gone. Zapped into the black hole. ' 'Do you know how to cuss?'' I asked her. We all have stories about computers. They are angels of deliverance or instruments of the devil. They are celebrated for making life easier, cursed for making life miserable. They can be credited for anything, blamed for everything. Many know how to work them. Fewer know how they work. For that we rely on experts. The computer technician is now to American business what a doctor on house calls once was to the American family. How did it come to this? We had invented a machine to figure the physics of atomic and hydrogen bombs. We became addicted to numbers, which led us to gadgetry. By the time Ike was finishing his first term as president 30 years ago, we had built a monopoly of new technology. We, and not the Japanese, had led the world in creating countless new gizmos. Of course we have profited by technology. Life is easier and better because of technology. Life may be safer, but not simpler. New technology brings new complications, even tragedies. Do we treat the machines as they treat us, with no thought? Our computer told Tammy Heikes, before her screen went blank, that Bob Dole could be reached at home in Russell, where he lives; We may know otherwise, but what does it tell us that we don't know otherwise? * We can accept and even embrace the computer for the work it can do. We should never trust it to think. While we race morjfe mini-circuits against more mega-tasks, let us remember our own task, which is to be hardheaded about software and human about what it may tell us. Bob Dole may live in Russell to vote, but he votes to live in Washington. .; -AND ms LADIK'ROOMUILL 6LODOODL5S. THEOXA/STD IMFHKTA SENSe OF FUN TO TYPICALLY 5WL5SURKOUNP- \ — ..INK. * warn 7H£ MfftS ROOM WILL B£ EVEN MOKE INTEKACTIV&. LET M& SHOW YOU MY CONCEPT FORTHe URINALS. THE URINALS OLDTVSUK&THIS. IT ANDTOMAKBTHE J.J..ASA BXPEKI&iCEMORE LOUS-TIME THEATRICAL, I'M U$ER.. FILLIH6TH5MWITH \ DKtlCZ.

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