The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 17, 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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Friday, January 17, 1986
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Page 4
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Opinion The Salina Journal Friday, January 17,1986 Page 4 T1 fe^.ifcfei.T 1 1 ne 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 Changing Marymount The planned changes announced by Marymount College this week are sad ones for many associated with the college. There is sadness for the faculty and staff whose jobs will end if the cutbacks are approved by the college trustees. Sports fans who've cheered the' Spartan basketball team mourn the possible end of an era of Marymount as a top national competitor if planned drastic cuts are made in the athletic budget. Local theatergoers regret a potential reduction in the number of Marymount plays. Many alumni will be saddened by planned cutbacks in the fields of study they majored in. The announced changes also bring questions. The most important question is whether the changes will work and bring Marymount financial stability. Some friends and associates of the college will wonder whether the financial situation of the college was indeed dire enough to justify the extreme recommendations. Until recently Marymount's situation had seemed relatively stable. There were no long-standing rumors of impending financial doom. If the budget cuts are made, there will undoubtedly be long debate over what might have been done differently to avoid the problem. There are likely to be complaints that the heart and soul of Marymount are being cut out to meet budgetary constraints. What needs to be kept in perspective is that no single program at Marymount — not the basketball team, the theater program, or any other program, — is the essence of the school. Marymount does not exist to provide Salinans with good basketball or great theater productions. Those functions are byproducts of Marymount's central mission to provide quality education. When, in the judgment of the college's administration, any program no longer contributes enough to that mission to justify its cost, the administration has no choice but to look for a way to eliminate the cost. It is also appropriate in this time of potential change to remember that Marymount has undergone major changes before. The college has changed greatly since the days when a faculty of sisters taught only female students in its sheltered halls. The changes have not been bad ones. The college's mission and the changes needed to fulfill that mission should be the only criteria on which the board of trustees bases its final decision on the planned cuts next week. Time out already? Kansas lawmakers, at least in the Senate, appear to be following in the footsteps of their esteemed statesman role models in Congress. After convening for the 1986 session Monday, state senators were apparently so worn out by their approximately 20-minute meeting, at which they listened to the recitation of new bills introduced, that they needed time off. So the Senate will take a four-day weekend, returning Tuesday to tackle the state's business. The House will honor Martin Luther King with a day off Monday, but will work today. After a break of eight months plus, one would expect lawmakers to return eager to leap into the state's business. Well, maybe next week. Why 'apathetic' college students flock to Tutu BOSTON — It is like this at every campus along his way. Students sitting. Students standing. Students sprawled on the floor of some auditorium to hear the small gray- haired man in a crimson clerical shirt talk in his lilting accent about "that vicious, ee-vill, immoral system," apartheid. On a recent night at Harvard, these students overfilled the forum of the Kennedy School of Government. They were crammed in and around the VIPs and the press, legs dangling from the ledge of the balconies that step-stoned around the platform, listening to Bishop Desmond Tutu. Students who have been labeled "apathetic" had come to witness a 54-year-old Nobel Prize winner who cannot vote in his own country. Young people wear-dated as "the uninvolved generation" had come to listen to stories told by an Anglican bishop who must go home every night to black Soweto. When he spoke, the bishop saw something distinctive in his campus supporters. An earlier generation, organized against the Vietnam War, had self-interest among their motives, he noted. Many students were draft age. "The extraordinary phenomenon of antiapartheid movement on campuses," he said, "is that in many ways you needn't be involved. But you are." Tutu didn't ask why, but it is a fair question. Why, in a desert of college political activism, is there this South African foliage? Why, during commencements, when another class marches straight ahead into the work force, are there mortarboard protests over apartheid? There are some who believe that apartheid Ellen Goodman WASHINGTON POST has become a campus target largely because it's a hemisphere away. It's easier to be engaged at arm's length, easier to judge another government's misdeeds. You can hang up on a long-distance cause if it gets too expensive. But the young I know are less concerned with distance than with certainty. Apartheid offers the luxury of moral certainty. There is no other side to this story; no good news about this political system. The students who oppose apartheid today do not believe that they will grimace over their naivete at some 10th reunion. And that's important to this generation. Today's freshman class was for the most part born in 1967, after John F. Kennedy's death, after the major civil-rights victories. They grew up against a backdrop of idealism debunked, leaders defrocked, Nixon's expletives, Kennedy's women. ' By 18, they are a television audience that equates politics with products, campaigns with commercials, issues with slogans. By 20, they are wary consumers who, above all else, don't want to be suckers. In many of the college students I know, the desire to make a commitment fights with this fear of being wrong, being suckered. It's true in the classroom. It's true in their personal relationships — this generation of children that has lived through more divorces than any other. It's true in political causes. South Africa is an exception to this so- called "apathy." So, too, is the other major involvement of students, their increased interest in what we once called charity. In the jargon of political scientists, apartheid is a "macro" issue; charitable work a "micro" issue. But they are both morally compelling and foolproof, or should I say, suckerproof. There is also no way to make a political mistake by working in a soup kitchen. There is no harm that comes years later from helping an elderly woman do her grocery shopping. Of course, even in these "safe" issues there is some irony. Inevitably, apartheid and charitable work are backdoors, sidedoors or corridors from opposite directions into politics. South Africa comes down to the campus in the form of divestiture and home to Washington in foreign-policy decisions. The soup- kitchen work expands into concern about causes of and cures for lines of people waiting for food. Gradually this reluctant generation will be drawn into the mainstream of American politics. They will make political commitments, make decisions between imperfect options, take risks, make mistakes. It is happening already. But for the moment, it is enough to watch Desmond Tutu, a man from another hemisphere, engage this wary generation of Americans with his compelling and seductive moral questions: "Are you or are you not on the side of justice? Are you or are you not on the side of right?" Ethics and a smoky workplace '°°ps' is the new word for Gramm-Rudman ^™ TIT A OYTT~M'/1r«^\».T ri _ . • • .. _ » Dale Goter, who reports for Harris News Service from Topeka, wrote this column in response to a story in Thursday's edition of The Wichita Eagle-Beacon. In that story, the Eagle's executive editor questioned the ethics of some statehouse reporters, including Goter, who sought legislation to ban smoking in the state Capitol. TOPEKA — Do journalists who work in a state building forfeit their rights to ask for a smokefree workplace? Some of us who must endure the perils of smokefllled committee rooms as part of our regular routine decided we had those rights. Others — notably the reporters and management of The Wichita Eagle-Beacon — say our drafting a signed petition for a statehouse smoking ban is a conflict of interest for journalists who cover the state Legislature. The petition was never presented as an official request; it was drafted and shown to one legislator (Rep. Bill Roy Jr. of Topeka) and discussed. The status of this "legislation" is as an idea, on paper, on a desk in a Capitol pressroom. Period. We won't dwell on the smoking issue; the arguments are well-known. But those who might take the Eagle-Beacon's criticism , seriously should consider a few other facts. ; Eagle-Beacon Executive Editor Davis v Merritt Jr., in comments to his reporters published in his newspaper, said the action "tainted" the reporting of those journalists — * particularly The Associated Press, which provides a daily legislative report to the Eagle-Beacon. (For the record, the AP reporters agreed they would not be personally - involved in the reporting of the no-smoking -legislation, delegating that to staffers who didn't sign the petition.) . Merritt should look in his own shop before : squatting on a pedestal of journalistic purity. ; For the Wichita newspaper, the public udder ; has many teats. Eagle-Beacon reporters, like ; those from most news organizations, enjoy - free office space, free water, electricity and - heat, free coffee, free parking privileges in " favored parking spaces, free photocopying — all compliments of the state government. ; But the Eagle-Beacon also goes a step forward in drinking from the public trough. Unlike other news organizations at the Capitol, the Eagle-Beacon is on the state telephone network as well. It in effect receives a state subsidy by paying only 24 cents a minute for in-state long distance calls. Those Dale Goter I HARRIS NEWS SERVICE of us on Southwestern Bell pay as much as 61 cents a minute. The petition would ask the state government for a smoke-free workplace. There is ample precedent in this. When a light bulb burns out in the Eagle-Beacon office at the Statehouse, the state provides a replacement. When Eagle-Beacon reporters want to make long-distance phone calls, they use a state- provided network. If there is a difference between asking for a smoke-free workplace, and asking for state-subsidized phone service, or rent-free office space, it escapes us. When the AP testified before the state Supreme Court on behalf of allowing cameras in courtrooms, the Eagle-Beacon had no objection. That kind of lobbying apparently is acceptable. Merritt himself has frequently lobbied the Legislature for open records and open meeting legislation. He also has encouraged the attorney general's office to take action against other government agencies when he thought it necessary. For the record, the no-smoking issue arose when a handful of us — two Harris News Service reporters, three Associated Press reporters and a public radio reporter — drafted and signed a petition that would ask the Legislature to ban smoking from the state Capitol. We are all non-smokers. We recognized the gesture as unusual. As reporters concerned about fair and accurate reporting, we realize that we must remain detached from the issues we cover. Nevertheless, we decided that we also must be concerned about our personal health and our ability to do our jobs effectively. Our offices are in the statehouse. The Legislature is the landlord, and makes the rules about the use of the building. The decision to sign the petition was an individual one. I can't speak for the other reporters, but I saw it as a clear issue of personal health protection. We would rather not ask the Legislature for anything, but when it becomes an issue of personal health protection, the choice is ob- Vious. WASHINGTON — Congress is coming back, although it is unclear why. Perhaps senators are drawn by the fragrant memory of their restaurant's justly famous bean soup. Of course the portions, caught in the Gramm-Rudmanizing machine, will be cut across the board. Congresspersons come back to contemplate their suddenly anachronistic House motto: "Here the People Rule." In Year 1, GR, the ruling "people" are technicians in the Office of Management and Budget, the Congressional Budget Office and the Comptroller General's Office of the General Accounting Office. Under Gramm-Rudman, OMB is joined with the CBO. They are joined to the GAO. And the shin bone is connected to the knee bone. What in the name of Jefferson has this to do with the due process of democracy? Assume, reasonably, that Congress rejects the president's budget, a menu of pains necessary to reach the deficit target without a tax increase. Assume, safely, that Congress also will refuse to write its own menu of pains. Then OMB and CBO will submit their estimates of the coming deficit. Those estimates will be churned into butter by the Comptroller General and he will decree the "across the board" cuts required to reach the deficit-reduction target. Well, across the board except for the 48 percent of the budget that is totally exempt from cuts, and the 70 percent that is totally or partially exempt. For this capitulation to unelected technocrats, soldiers shivered at Valley Forge? The constitutionality of Gramm-Rudman is being challenged on the ground that it vio- Doonesbury George Will WASHINGTON POST lates the separation of powers. It would be better to challenge it with philosophic fundamentals. The essence of republicanism is the principle of representation: The people do not decide issues; they decide who shall decide— elected representatives. Under Gramm- Rudman, elected people will decide almost nothing. They have decided not to decide among competing priorities. Bureaucrats will do the deciding. For example, the New York Times reports that, "spending must be cut by the same percentage for each national park, national forest, fish hatchery and wildlife refuge run by the Interior Department. The Department could then decide how to make the specific cuts." All civics textbooks should be recalled by publishers. All passages describing the importance of Congress in the appropriations process must be removed. (In Gramm- Rudmanspeak, they must be "sequestered.") Last Sunday government economists said, yet again, "Oops!" "Oops" Is a technical term meaning (in this instance) the fiscal 1986 deficit will be $220 billion, not $194 billion. Caspar "Sugar Ray" Weinberger was on one of the Sunday television programs, bob- bing and weaving like a welterweight with springs for legs, jabbing at skeptics with the weightiest word in the language: "If." He said: Gramm-Rudman will not threaten Reagan's defense program ... if Congress passes Reagan's budget. But in the Ping-Pong of the budget process, Reagan is sending to Congress proposed cuts Congress has rejected before. Weinberger is an ardent admirer of Winston Churchill, whose calls for rearmament were opposed by people like Stanley Baldwin, who had a cheese-paring approach to defense. Weinberger, having been admirably Churchillian, might be driven by Gramm-Rudman to be a Baldwin. The Washington Post recently published a Gramm-Rudman story that should be clipped and kept, but put on a high shelf (next to your dog-eared copies of "Fanny HiD" and "Tropic of Cancer") lest the children read it and lose all faith in democracy. It tells of one congressman who voted for Gramm-Rudman but is having second thoughts because it will do more than "just" slash defense. He thinks that after three years of across-the-board cuts, not much government will remain: "No FBI, no Coast Guard." He is saying, in the universal language of contemporary government, "Oops!" The Post story contains this deathless passage: "Scattered across the country and in several foreign countries for the congressional recess, lawmakers have begun to think through the implications of the new law " Yes, "begun." Post-facto government involves reflecting in tranquility about what you have done in pandemonium. 7707 IDA _ 0KICK? GOP, THAT15 500KJ6INAL. THE CHICK &

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