The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 12, 1986 · Page 4
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 4

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Salina, Kansas
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Sunday, January 12, 1986
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Page 4
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Opinion The Salina Journal Sunday, January 12,1986 Paged TKellournal Founded in 1871 HARRIS RAYL, Editor and Publisher KAY BERENSON, Executive Editor SCOTT SEIRER, News Editor LARRY MATHEWS, Assistant News Editor LORI BRACK, Weekend fid/tor JIM HAAG.AfigW Editor MARY JO PROCHAZKA, Associate Editor Too little The only redeeming value in a U.S.- Canadian government study group's new acid-rain proposal is its acknowledgement that acid rain is a problem that should be addressed. The Canadian government has recognized this for some time, but the Reagan administration hasn't. Otherwise, the proposal is a disappointment. First, it sets no target for reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions from American coal-fired industries, a major source of acidic rain that falls in the Northeast and Canada, poisoning lakes and forests. Second, the plan suggests spending only $5 billion (industry would pay half and government would pay half). That's not enough to fund the expensive technology needed to reduce the pollution significantly. Smoke- stack scrubbers, for example, can cost $200 million per installation. The program is a peewee. Even so, the Reagan administration is already grumbling about the price tag of the proposal, co-authored by Drew Lewis, former U.S. transportation secretary, and William Davis, former premier of Ontario. No amount of money, it seems, is too much when used to buy weapons. A clean environment, on the other hand, is always too expensive. The Canadians have set a much better example. Last year they announced they would reduce their acid emission levels by 50 percent by 1994. That is the kind of commitment the United States should make. The health 6f U.S. and Canadian lakes and forests demands it. So do good relations between Washington and Ottawa. Trouble in Topeka The halcyon days are over in Topeka. House Speaker Mike Hayden and Gov. John Carlin are at it again. Last session was relatively harmonious-. That non-partisan calm allowed lawmakers reasonably smooth sailing as they tackled such tough problems as reappraisal and a statewide vote on liquor by the drink. Ah, but this session is a pre-election one. The storm warnings are out. Expect stiff gales of hot air, accompanied by a hail of charges and countercharges and a stationary cold front stalled between the Democrats and the Republicans. The gales of political hot air kicked up last week when Hayden, R- Atwood, announced he was running for governor. The declaration came as no surprise. The only surprises came in the announcement speech. Hayden said he would fight Gov. Carlin's proposed penny increase in the state sales tax. That was not a surprise. He and his Republican colleagues have fought Carlin on that issue before. The surprise came in Hayden's ability to hold contradictory opinions. He ripped into Carlin's tax and budget proposals, saying, "The idea that government can spend itself to prosperity is ill-founded." But, surprisingly, he acknowledged in the same speech that "essential services must be maintained and certain programs enhanced." Presumably that is all to be done without money. Having done his best to tar Carlin with the big-spender, tax-hiker image, Hayden acknowledged that a tax increase would probably be needed after all. There's a nugget of truth in his declaration that higher income taxes are preferable to increased sales taxes because the sales tax falls more heavily on the poor. But in the midst of his gale of righteous opposition to the sales tax as a regressive tax, Hayden was overtaken by the urge to endorse a state lottery — the most regressive tax possible. That same urge overcame Carlin last week as he announced he would push for a statewide lottery and pari- mutuel wagering to raise money for economic development. Then there were the unidentified sources in Topeka muttering that Carlin is fuming at Hayden for having allegedly broken a promise to support the governor's proposal to reorganize the state board of agriculture. Yes, it's an election year in Topeka. Unfortunately it is also a crucial year in Topeka. The ailing agricultural and aviation industries have already plunged the state into stormy economic waters. A moderating of the political climate is needed. No oil glut for grandchildren One of President Reagan's most likable qualities is his ability to be lucky. The United States needs a lucky president and we've got one in Ronald Reagan. Jimmy Carter is a first class human being and very bright but as a president, he lacked the knack for being lucky. One of the unluckiest things that happened to Carter when he was president, in addition to Khomeini's abduction of 52 Americans, was the sudden shortage of oil. No one knew for sure what caused it but it had us all paying twice as much to heat our homes and kept us waiting in line for hours at the service station to buy five gallons of gas. President Reagan, with his luck, is riding a rocketing economy fueled by an oil glut. (How's that, metaphor fans?) The stock market has doubled in just a few years. Wall Street analysts are pretending the current prosperity is the result of a variety of complex factors which only they understand. Baloney. The stock market went up because oil is cheap. We're living in a fool's paradise, though. With the exception of the two classics, death and taxes, nothing is more certain than that the people on Earth will consume all its oil sometime in the next 100 years. What follows are some statistics I got from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which, in turn, got them from the U.S. Geological Survey. I've rounded them off: • There are about 700 billion barrels of oil we know about somewhere under the earth's surface. We're still looking and will no doubt find some more. • The United States has less than 30 billion barrels under it that we know about. Geologists estimate there may be 80 billion barrels we haven't found. We're sucking up from under the earth's crust about 3 billion barrels of that a year. • The United States uses 5 billion barrels of Andy Rooney CHICAGO TRIBUNE NEW YORK NEWS Don't expect much from the 1986 Legislature The urge for hyperbole in discussing the 1986 Kansas Legislature must be curbed. The temptation is strong to say the session will be the least productive, most useless, do- nothingest, hell-fire shouting match in recent history. But that may be going a bit too far. Certainly in more than a century of legislating, Kansas has known a session that was even more lackluster than, say, 1985 — a session dedicated to the banks and utility companies. But this year the speaker of the House is a candidate for governor. The president of the Senate wants to be, and the majority leaders have their candidates. The Legislature could set new highs for heat, new lows for light. The agenda, as now promised, is the politicians' dream and the citizens' catastrophe: Debate of the mossbacked Board of Agriculture, a state lottery, betting the horses, medical malpractice insurance and a sales tax increase. Stuffing for many speeches. The issues are otherwise: Monumental headaches in agriculture, the state's biggest business, and rural banking, its cracked foundation; a moth-eaten property tax; a state welfare, department riddled with inequities; water supplies; juvenile justice; nursing home standards that are a state shame; penal reform that is ignored; a land use plan (or lack of any) that encourages the asphalt industry; liquor laws that hand wholesalers guaranteed control and profits; a school John Marshall HARRIS NEWS SERVICE finance setup that protracts wars of inequity all across Kansas. That's for starters. The Legislature for years has studiously sidestepped most items that smack of productive gain or meaningful reform. There are several reasons for this past performance and they are the same reasons we may expect no change in the future. One reason is the annual, early-on feud set up by the legislative leadership, whose arrogance in the face of conscientious colleagues or the governor runs counter to the needs of the state as a whole. Another cause, frequently offered, is that this is an election year and nothing gets done in election years. This is the most damnable alibi of all. Some legislators act as though the principal reason voters send them to Topeka is so they may be re-elected. They base all their legislative decisions on how they may look to their supporters, or to the next governor, not on whether a job needs to be done regardless of whose fur gets ruffled. The basic cause for this sorry record and slim prospect for change is that Kansas has grown smug. For too many years, the state grew fat and flabby with inflation and with the continued productivity of farmers and industrialists. The state had no big financial worries of its own, and the leaders refused to believe there were serious worries elsewhere. Conservatism became the end itself — not the means to an end, to a better state, a more liveable Kansas. Like the federal establishment, the state government got swollen. Its bigness stood in the way of getting anything done. Offices, agencies, jobs and re-elections became the purpose, not the appliance. And now, with nothing done, with no planning, no investment in the fat times, the state is completely helpless during the lean years. Reforming the tax structure is out. When confronted with problems calling for boldness, the state is content to get out the repair kit and try a little patchwork. Or a lottery. Or horse gambling. Is there a cure? Not with the Legislature we now have in Topeka. Not with people more concerned about their political hides than about the state of Kansas. And not with voters who still think state government is a political game, fun to play but of no real significance in our daily lives. Why is it so hard to tell a family farm farewell? By JACKIE MARTIN BOYLES Farming — is it a job? Years ago before I married a farmer and moved from the city to the country, I would have answered this question with a positive "Yes!" Now I answer by saying, "No one would work under such conditions for so little pay and still call it a job." I soon learned after my marriage that a farmer's money goes back into the farm unless there is extra, which there doesn't ever seem to be. Still, we did somehow manage to raise our children with a minimum of discomfort. We never had a new house of furnishings, but somehow that never seemed to matter. The farm was always "home" to us and our friends and relatives. Now suddenly we, like so many others, are faced with the possibility of losing it. Sadly I look at the worry lines appearing on loving faces as they try to figure some way to save the farm. I find myself asking, "Why do you worry about producing food for a nation of people, when the majority seem to think it comes from the grocery store? Why do you drag out of your sick bed to feed the farm animals or go out in a raging buzzard to bring a baby calf back to the barn so it won't freeze? Why do you sacrifice everything to put in a crop when you know it probably won't even pay for the expenses? Why do you work long hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year, knowing you'll probably be further in debt than you were the year before?'' Why can't the farmer just give up and consider it a business failure? Why can't he live in town, work at a paying job 40 hours a week and get a paid vacation, sick leave, retirement and other benefits? It's as impossible for me to answer these questions as it is for you. What I do know is that as long as there is any hope at all, a fanner will fight to keep his land. His land becomes part of him and he becomes part of his land. He loves and worries about his land, much as he does his own family, and when he loses it, it's as if a member of his own family has died. He feels he has failed because he wasn't able to save it. John Raskins said, "The highest reward for man's toil is not what he gets for it, but what he becomes." A farmer can toil day and night on his own land for almost no money and still be happy. But what becomes of him when he no longer has his land? This question is answered by statistics showing a big rise in suicide, drunkenness, drug usage, divorce and mental problems among farmers. You've seen threats and anger and especially real tears, but the feeling of failure lasts the rest of their years. Boyles began farming near Burr Oak with her husband after their marriage in 1960. Their five sons have helped with the family farm that the Boyleses have left for a while to sell firewood in Colorado. Is this the generation destined to abolish war? oil a year. • The whole world is burning 20 billion barrels a year, so the United States, with 5 percent of the world's population, uses 25 percent of the world's oil. • The Soviet Union has 63 billion barrels of crude oil reserves and doesn't use half what we do. • Saudi Arabia has the most, 171 billion barrels. • Great Britain and Norway between them have 22 billion barrels under the North Sea. • Kuwait has a lot, 92 billion barrels and Mexico has 48 billion. We have to be nice to both of them. • China only knows about 19 billion barrels it has but China hasn't been fully explored for oil. If we never found any more oil than the 700 billion barrels we know about now, and the world continues to use 20 billion barrels a year, we'd run out in 35 years. The world doesn't seem to plan very far ahead. I guess none of us is so unselfish that we're willing to devote a lot of time and sacrifice a lot of our own material possessions for generations of our great-great grandchildren who haven't been.born yet. We figure they'll think of something. President Reagan won't have to think of anything. He's lucking out again because he won't be the president who has to face the problem. "I hate war," declared Franklin Delano Roosevelt shortly before leading us into World War II. At the time, we all agreed it was a holy war and worthy of Christian endeavor. Our attitude about war, then and now, was the same as Calvin Coolidge's opinion on sin. Avoiding specifics, he was, he said, against it. As the poster which my wife likes to quote says: "War is not healthy for children or other living things." Still we continue to flirt with Mars, as in the Middle East and in Latin America. Even after Hiroshima, Dresden, Conven- try, and Stalingrad, there remain some good folks to whom war is not entirely anathema: conservative ladies whose radical rebel forebears whipped the British with the help of the French, heavy investors in military delivery systems, merchants whose shops adjoin defense establishments, and young men who find football games are an insufficient exercise of their macho. Particularly men; there is something about war that appeals to the virile spirit. Veterans of combat forget their wounds, erase from memory the days of boredom and the minutes of fear, no longer recall the splitting noise and the stench of battle, and are happy in retelling sometimes fanciful tales of valor to their grandchildren. I should know! Through the ages, until quite recently, gentlemen sought to make war their own, exclusive sport. Oh, there were exceptions. Cities like Carthage were destroyed and salted down, Rome was sacked, stout English yeomen felled the chivalry of France with the long bow, Greeks were enslaved. But most times the civilian population could mind its Whitley Austin HARRIS NEWS SERVICE own business and let the professional soldiers go about their murder and maiming. The bomb, whether atomic or of napalm, ended the exclusivity of the martial trade. City centers and populated industrial complexes became targets of choice. No one spared women and children; indeed, in some theories held by the Pentagon they were the better bargaining chips. Although a balance of terror through programs of Mutually Assured Destruction has kept the superpowers in an uneasy peace for 40 years, military strategists constantly are striving for schemes to provide a first strike edge, Star Wars for instance: if the enemy can't hit us, we can hit them. "Peace is our profession," the slogan popular with SAC when Schilling Air Force base was extant, was almost true. Because we had the bomb and the Russians had the bomb, neither power was ready to risk total destruction. Our loaded bombers, together with missiles in silos and missiles fired from submarines, the holy trinity of modern warfare, did provide a sense of safety. But safety is not the way of Mars. Through the latter decades of this century, Pentagon planners secretly put on paper new ways to escape the stringency of MAD. They advanced the idea of tactical use of atomic warheads. They considered wiping out only selected cities in the Soviet Union, holding the survivors as hostages against victory. Now they are dreaming about destroying satellites so as to curtail enemy communication and observation. Or to put up such a heavenly barrage that incoming missiles are destroyed in the upper atmosphere. All these theories, however, are flawed. What world power threatened with battlefield defeat would hesitate to escalate atomic destruction? What if the new techniques were only 90 percent effective? That's a doubtful figure as any soldier whose rifle has jammed knows. The other 10 percent would represent 20-30 million dead Americans! Finally, there is the prospect of nuclear winter, with the sun obscured for years, causing temperatures throughout the dying world to fall far below zero. For those who are interested in this macabre topic, I suggest they read a new book, "WAR," Crown Publishers, 272 pages, illustrated, indexed, by the Canadian sailor and military historian Gwynne Dyer, author and narrator of the PBS national television series on war. Surveying 9,000 years of "civilized" war, Dyer finds the institution of war is as much a part of civilized behavior as computer programming. But he argues that war, like other human activities, can be and must be modified. The final paragraph says: "Some generation of mankind was eventually bound to face the task of abolishing war, because our civilization was bound to endow us sooner or later with the power to destroy ourselves. We happen to be that generation ... There is nobody wiser who will take the responsibility and solve this problem for us. We have to do it ourselves."

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