The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 11, 1986 · Page 4
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 4

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Saturday, January 11, 1986
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-••"I • Opinion The Salina Journal Saturday, January 11,1986 Page 4 HT1 Mfi.'a.*-: T 1 1 ne Journal Founded in 1971 HARRIS RAYL, Editor and Publisher KAY BERENSON, Executive Editor SCOTT SEIRER, News Editor LARRY MATHEWS, Assistant News Editor LORI BRACK, Weekend Ed/for JIM HAAG, Night Editor MARY JO PROCHAZKA, Associate Editor A Blocked role U.S. Agriculture Secretary John Block's successor likely will be viewed as no more successful or popular than Block among America's farmers. Block, who will leave his Cabinet post next month, may have had an impossible job during his five-year tenure. He came to Washington to serve as one of the president's men with a background as a family farmer from an Illinois hog operation. His direct experience in farming may have been beneficial in ways, but his lack of political savvy hurt in the nation's capital. Vying for influence and a voice with President Reagan, Block didn't carry as much weight as some others on the president's team. Block earned few points from farmers with his "Prosperity is just around the corner" comments, which showed he'd moved beyond optimism and lost touch with reality. Assurances that gloom and doom were leaving agriculture seemed a bit odd from a secretary who had to refinance his own farm debt and sell property to make ends meet. Criticism of Block partially stemmed from unrealistic expectations by Midwestern farmers, who wanted more, not less, government support. After all, Reagan's vision as a candidate had been for a nation freed of the federal government. His commitment to pulling federal financial support out from the foundation of agriculture should have come as no surprise to farmers, who helped elect him to office. .Reagan carried every Kansas county in his '84 bid for reelection. The president's mission would have been incompatible with a farm policy administrator who wanted more federal support for agriculture. The difficulty of Block's role was compounded by events far beyond his control. During his service, American agriculture was socked by international changes that brought less demand for U.S. farm goods, by a national debt that sent interest rates soaring beyond reach and by plunging values of farmland used as collateral for loans. Perhaps no one could have done better for farmers. One thing's for certain. Block's successor will face a difficult, thankless task. A tougher secretary with more political experience would be a good choice, but no choice is likely to change Reagan's resolve to restructure the base of American agriculture. Is this Kansas or...? Well, maybe it's Miami. Unlike Philip Morris, we really aren't worried that the state has been transported to Russia. No SRS smoking ban could make us worry about that. But we have begun to wonder if we're in Kansas anymore. It's not that we've noticed any talking cornfields or strange walking robots. It's just that we've been experiencing this bizarre craving to take up sunbathing outdoors or watch for tulips poking up or drag out the hammock for the patio. The source of those symptoms is obvious — warm, sunny days sans windchill or howling blizzard. And in January. In Kansas. It all raises some interesting questions: Has the sunbelt moved north without telling anyone? If we pretend not to notice, will it stay put? In spite of the pleasures, the weather somehow makes us nervous. Is Mother Nature just lulling us into a state of complacency — softening us up for The Big Chill later this month? Will late January mark the Great Blizzard of 1986, or will the blizzard wait for February? Or will an unforecast winter storm have moved in even before you read this? Will you look up from the first sentences of this piece and chuckle ironically at the snow blowing outside the kitchen window? We'll take the chance. But remember we warned you. Kansas weather is interesting, but tricky. Enjoy the weekend, but if you plan to head for the beach, take a snow shovel along with the blanket. This week's political nuggets The week's wash: University officials are worried about the Legislature's mood this year when it comes to funding education, an item that accounts for a third of total state spending in Kansas. "These are dangerous times," says one administrator at the University of Kansas. "When the state has a lot of money, there are fewer wars of nerves and battles among special interest groups in education; there is usually enough for everyone.... "What we may see this year, and I hope we don't, is a battle over turf to protect university programs designed solely to benefit commerce, industry, high tech and private interests — a sort of technical school for big business — at the expense of programs and departments that offer students a broader application toward life." * * * A narrow application in politics came to Rep. Bob Whittaker recently, when the Kansas Public Disclosure Commission ruled that he could not transfer $250,000 from his 5th District congressional campaign fund to pay for his proposed campaign for governor. That Whittaker dropped from a gubernatorial race before he entered had nothing to do with the commission's ruling. He decided not to run for governor because it would be too much a strain on his family. Or so he said. The strain of losing $250,000 had nothing to do with it. Not a bit. * * * Mike Hayden is this week's Republican candidate for governor. He is speaker of the House. He is from Atwood, which makes Mike the first bigshot candidate from Western Kansas this year. The press is making a big deal of this. ••"West of 81," they say. Why U.S. 81? It isn't west by any stretch of - geography. The highway is more east cen- . tral, to hear a weather forecaster pin it. ' Jim French, who is from southwest Kansas but now lives in Olathe, knows as much history of the state as anyone; he says there's nothing special about U.S. 81 "except, that John Marshall HARRIS NEWS SERVICE everyone just accepts it as an east-west reference. "Salina and Wichita are on it. And to the easterners, it's west enough to be west; to the westerners, it's east enough to be east. Leave it at that." OK. * •*• * So who would win the Republican primary if former Gov. Bob Bennett of Johnson County; Larry Jones, the Wichita boss of the Coleman Company, and Mike Hayden are the party's three strongest candidates? "Wichita (Jones) would win — all things considered," he said. "In a primary, geography is the most important element. "Johnson (Bennett) County is, basically, in Missouri and not worth a damn in getting sympathy or votes in a primary — not when the others are considered. The only thing people in Johnson County know about western Kansas is that it takes a helluva long time to take Interstate 70 into Colorado. Otherwise, they read the Kansas City (Mo.) Star, they watch Kansas City (Mo.) television, and at least half of all of them work and shop in Missouri. "Atwood (Hayden)? Where in hell is it, and who is he? Mike Hayden might make a great governor. But basically, nobody knows him or his country. "Even fewer people know Larry Jones. But everybody knows Wichita. In a primary that will count for a whale of a lot," Jim says. Quotation You won't find America's workers in Congress WASHINGTON — The quietest place in town these days is the U.S. Capitol. The guards are here, being helpful to a trickle of tourists. Some maintenance people are at work. A few reporters are doing crossword puzzles in the press galleries. Otherwise the place is one great yawning vacuum. Congress has gone home. In a cynical sense, one ought not to complain about the situation. Until Jan. 21, when the next session begins, the liberties of the people are secure. That is the hoary joke. It contains a kernel of truth for those who hold by the theory of the fewer laws, the better. It's not a bad theory. Yet we ought to take a long, slow look at how the U.S. Congress operates. If a private business ran on the same take-it-easy schedule, the business would go broke in six weeks. Look back at 1985. Congress came into session on Jan. 3. For the next three weeks, members did nothing but go to parties and hang pictures. The rigors of Inauguration Day left them exhausted. They did nothing for a week, and then recessed to honor Presidents Washington and Lincoln. It was March before they got down to work. Then they took a vacation for Easter. They took a week off for Memorial Day. They slaved away in June, and took another long recess over the Fourth of July. Wearied by this frenzied pace, they fled Washington for the whole month of August and didn't come back until early September. They took another week at Thanksgiving. On a great cresting wave of fulsome oratory, they adjourned five days before Christmas. During the year, our heroes introduced James Kilpatrick UNIVERSAL PRESS 6,000 bills and almost 1,800 resolutions. The good news is that only 187 bills were enacted into law. The Senate met on 170 days, the House on only 152. The members' remarks — plus the extensions of their remarks — filled 37,200 pages of the Congressional Record. The waste of time around this place is horrendous. Sen. David Pryor of Arkansas kept notes last year. By his reckoning, the Senate spent 327 hours and 15 minutes in quorum calls — the equivalent of 41 days of work in any other occupation. Senate roll calls are supposed to be cut off after 15 minutes, but they rarely are. Pryor found that another 47 hours were frittered away last year in excess time after the 15-minute periods expired. Congress ended the 1985 session with two major pieces of legislation. These were the farm bill and the Gramm-Rudman Deficit Reduction Act. The farm bill has some good features, but it perpetuates the worst of the follies that afflict our agricultural policy. Gramm-Rudman is a disaster. What else was accomplished? Let us see. In its closing hours, Congress provided for naming the John W. Byrnes Post Office Building in Green Bay, Wis., the Jennings Randolph Lake near Keyser, W.Va., the Captain John Foster Williams Coast Guard Building in Boston, the Robert N.C. Nix Building in Philadelphia, and the James A. Welsh Courthouse in Tucson. Congress designated a Truck and Bus Safety Week, a National Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Awareness Week, a National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week, a National Jaycee Week, an Ethnic Americans Day, a National Agricultural Day, and a Save the U.S.A. Year. A decade might have been better. After appropriate thought and hard reflection, Congress declared that it opposes childhood diseases and the occupation of Afghanistan. It favors the Camp Fire Girls and Lithuanian independence. A resolution to oppose Man's Inhumanity to Man on April 24 of every year was postponed for further consideration in 1986. Federal recognition was restored to the Coushatta Indian Tribe of Texas. There is no reason on earth for Congress to fritter away the whole month of January. In what other industry or occupation do people get vacations so extensive? It is said that members work at home, talking with the common people, getting their constituents' views. Some do, some don't. Mainly what members do in recess is hustle for reelection. Meanwhile, nothing is being done in the Senate on tax reform. The House is sitting on a major banking bill. Both chambers are ducking needed changes in election laws. The rest of the country is working. Why are these clowns in the hammock? Used writer searches classified ads for better job The other day I got so desperate for an idea for a column that I started looking through the classified ad pages of a Washington, D.C., newspaper to see if there were any jobs available that didn't involve writing. I get lost easily in classified sections and the first thing I came on was "Used Cars" and so I stopped thinking about a new job and started thinkingof used cars. Most of the used cars didn't interest me but I've always wanted to own a Volkswagen Bug and there were six listed. There was one 1972 model for $500 with 50,000 miles on it. There was another 1971 Volkswagen for $1,200. That seems like a lot. This guy drives a car for 15 years and then wants to sell it for almost as much as he paid for it? I don't want a Bug that bad. There was one second-hand car place that said they'd give anyone "a free quartz watch just for coming in." A place that offers a free watch is the last place I'd buy a second-hand car. There was a 1974 Cadillac for $1,000 and a 1980 Lincoln Mark V for $7,335. The Lincoln is sort of a status car but you wouldn't drive a 6- year-old car if it was status you wanted. I'm surprised all Mark Vs aren't thrown away when they're 6. The most amazing two-line ad was for a 1975 Mercedes. They wanted $15,900 for that car. Even assuming they'd come down a thousand dollars, that's a lot of money for a 10-year-old car. Of course, it might have been the best buy, at that. Some of these second-hand car dealers ran ads reading "No credit, bad credit." I guess that means they'll sell you a car with time payments even if the bank says you aren't good for it. Doonesbury Andy Rooney CHICAGO TRIBUNE NEW YORK NEWS There were big ads trying to talk me into leasing a car. You can get an Oldsmobile Regency for $244 a month but you have to rent it for 60 months or five years. That comes to $14,640. I called an Oldsmobile agency. To buy one new would cost $16,700. Is that a good deal? There must be some tax angle to it that most of us don't understand. I hit the "Lost and Found" columns briefly on my way to "Help Wanted." Someone lost a gold bracelet "in the vicinity of Constitution Hall." The little ad said "Reward." Lots of luck. Adding that word "reward" was a mistake. Anyone who'd return a gold bracelet they found would do it because they were honest. I finally got to "Help Wanted" but I didn't see any job I wanted that I could do. All the good jobs wanted someone better than I am at whatever it was and all the bad jobs were terrible. I don't want to be a "Sales Trainee." Two jobs under "C" interested me. "Cabinetmaker. Must be experienced." I'd love to work as a cabinetmaker but I know I'm not good enough. I'm probably not even good enough to be a "cabinetmaker's assistant." There was an opening for that, too. "Executive Chef needed for luxury hotel kitchen." I like to cook but I have quite a few disasters so a big hotel couldn't depend on me. I don't like to cook the same thing twice, either, and big hotel menus don't change much. I'm about as good a. chef as I am a cabinetmaker and in both cases it's not very. I'd have to be pretty hard up for a column before I'd give up column-writing to take some of the jobs listed: "Dry Clean Spotter," "Carpet Installer wanted," "File Clerk to $400 wk." (When they say "to $400 a week," it usually means you start at $160.) There are a lot of openings these days for security guards. It doesn't seem to take much experience, just a uniform and a badge. Here's one: "Security Guard. To work unarmed. Must have secret clearance.'' I'd like the idea of having all the power those security guards have.but I notice that several of these jobs only pay $4.50 an hour. I've often wondered if security guards are any more honest than the rest of us. Maybe I better think of a column to write instead of looking for another job. 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. One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude. — Carl Sandburg .. AHDINFKOKTOF TUB VANfTf ARE HUGB- INDUSTRIAL SPRINGS FOR PEOPLE. TOSITON. ANP THE UHAfSTHAT VISA SLEEPING THING THAT MAN. THATSKAOUL. LOOKS UKEA HE'SAPBWPM- SLKPIN6MAN? ANCBAKTIST FROM SOHO. \ HE'S PLAYING A BEAVEK.OEAVER, UWT? ASLEEPONABED OFOLPCOMICBOOKS. ISHEMKT OF THE CON- JUSTAUDtnON- CEPT, TOO? ING. U1HATVO yOU THINK? J

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