The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 19, 2001 · Page 7
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 7

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Thursday, April 19, 2001
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THE SALINA JOURNAL THURSDAY, APRIL 19, 2001 A7 True stories Tom Bell Editor & Publisher 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 r Fax: ! (785)827-6363 ' , E-mail: S J Letters® saljournal.com Quote of tiieday "They sprung the element of surprise. What the market needed was a positive shock." Sung Won I Sohn "chief economist at 'Wells Fargo Bank, on the unexpected move by the Federal Reserve to cut Interest rates. THE ISSUE School funding THEARGUMBUT Districts need more W e've seen this ploy before: In order to generate public support, public agencies start whining about services and benefits that will be cut if the latest budgetary increase is not met. Depending on the entity, we might hear there will be fewer cops on the street, no fuel for firetrucks, insufficient snowplows or a shortage of guards watching prisoners. In the case of schools, the music is the same but the lyrics are different. Consider the story in Wednesday's Journal where districts warned of impending cuts if state education funding is not increased. We hear that in Salina, new money from the Legislature will barely cover increased utility bills and fuel costs. That means there may not be any money for teacher raises, which increases the likelihood that experienced educators wiU go somewhere else. In McPherson, Superintendent Robert Shannon reports the district could actually lose funds and is considering cutting teaching positions and budgets for athletics and other activities. At Beloit, the district won't repair or replace two air conditioning units that cool the library and six classrooms. The Hays district will cut another 11 or 12 positions this year, just as it has the last three years. Are these scare tactics or legitimate concerns? Our instincts tell us these cautions are very real indeed. And it doesn't take much history to support the districts' cry for help. Despite promises, the Legislature simply has not increased education funding at a sufficient rate to keep up with inflation, tight job markets and technology Additionally, districts are required to provide services to virtually every child in the community, no matter how severe the handicaps. That federal mandate comes without additional funding, yet requires dozens of specialized employees, added equipment and classroom space. The state's districts are in a vise: increasing costs on one side and stagnant funding on the other. Lawmakers must address the problem with a significant increase in education funding before they close the books on this year's session. And if that demands a , tax increase, then so be it. Our children's futures are worth it. — Tom Bell Editor & Publisher • POINT OF VIEW • LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL Figure the cost of gambling Spin was worse than the real poUcy Plane incident was handled well, but Bush's own leaks nnade him look foolish P roblems that arise from gambling are numerous, and pathological gambling throughout the United States is on the rise. Many pathological gamblers attribute the start of their problems to the lottery. One compulsive gambler, convicted of embezzlement from two different businesses to pay for her addiction, stated that her addiction began seven years ago when she would consistently buy five dollars worth of scratch-off tickets every time she bought gas and never missed the Wednesday and Saturday drawings, j Problems associated with [compulsive gambling include bankruptcy, fraudulent insurance claims and homelessness. From a study on homelessness, one homeless man stated that his problem came about almost exclusively from the lottery The study said that 86 percent of the people they studied from "rescue missions" said gambling, including lotteries, is addictive. Eighteen percent said gambling was a cause of their homelessness, and 86 percent still play the lottery , Gambling not only affects adults but is an even faster growing problem for our youth. One study indicates that 1.14 percent of the adults in the U.S. ^nd Canada are pathological piamblers, while 5.77 percent of adolescents ages 10 to 19 suffer from this same problem. ; For fiscal year 2000, Kansas sold $192.6 million worth of lottery tickets. In my five counties (Mitchell, Osborne, Lincoln, Ellsworth and Russell) sales fimounted to $2,732,621. Prizes paid out in my district added MARTIN SCHRAM Scripps Howard News Service ^ "o sooner had America's 24 brave air surveillance crew members been released by China than Washington's cognoscenti began its ritual pondering of how the new, inexperienced president had performed in his first international high- pressure test. And naturally, to get the behind-the- scenes scoop on President George W. Bush's performance, the capital cognoscenti turned * first to those who are considered the tops of American journalism. "Bush had peppered (Army Brig. Gen. Neal) Sealock with questions..." reported The Washington Post. "...He grilled (national security adviser Con- doleezza) Rice on the degree of regret the United States would express..." "From the first moment, Mr. Bush was constantly peppering his closest aides," reported The New York Times. Do you begin to feel we were listening to the sound of one White House spinner spinning? (Or a choir of Bush spinners reading from the same libretto?) The fact is that President Bush worked his way through his first could-be crisis in admirable fashion. (Yes, he began with an initial false step — demanding China release the crew, which only hardened the Chinese position, as Beijing began to treat the issue as a matter of national pride in which it could not yield, as its own pilot was apparently downed and dead. Yet Bush quickly and wisely treated it as a two- staged affair: First, a conciliatory strategy to get the 24 Americans home; second, a firmer strategy to tell the facts of how China's pilot caused the mid-air collision in international airspace.) But America's new inexperienced president was not well served by his new and inexperienced presidential spinners. For in their zeal to make their man look super they wound up portraying him in an exaggerated way that came across as cartoon- ish, almost comical. And that made their own account seem hard to believe. Especially in the first account that was published on April 12 in The Washington Post. It ran on page one under a label that said "analysis" — but read as if it should have been labeled "satire." It began with those bits about "peppered Sealock" and "grilled Rice," which conjured images of a president who is a cross between the Lone Ranger of Foreign Policy (as Henry T POINT OF VIEW You STili The Washington Post ran its account April 12 on page one under a label that said "analysis"— but read as if it should have been labeled "satire." Kissinger once famously referred to himself) and the Galloping Gourmet. Then the Post presented examples — that read like a cross between scripts from West Wing and Saturday Night Live: "In one conversation with Sealock, Bush's questions were numerous, and detailed. 'How's their health?' the president asked of the crew. Are they staying in the equivalent of officers' quarters?' Are they getting any exercise?'" Such detailed questions were of course also being asked in the parlors from Peoria to Pensacola. It is incongruous, if not absurd, to depict such normal questions as detailed and presidential. And it demeans the president — who, with his advisers, handled this test quite well — because it seems to say we expected him to be such a lightweight that any ordinary thing that he said merits huzzahs. The New York Times waited one more day before running its own page one analysis — and came up with a proper analytical theme: Bush had "suppressed his initial instincts" to make hawkish demands and Wi\|t*snt«uuvi«)icff< adopted a more "conciliatory approach," that got the troops home. The Times piece also noted — but only in passing — that Bush called leaders of Britain, France, Brazil and Canada "to encourage them to quietly press Chinese leaders." No one in the media has properly explored the obvious question of why an international forum was not, and hasn't been, sought to mobilize international support for rights of aircraft in international airspace to be free from buzzing and harassing tactics. Chinese pilots apparently used those tactics for months against these U.S. planes, which are not secret spy planes, but overt surveillance planes. Indeed, the Navy EP-3E Aires II intelligence planes are slow-flying hippos that might as well be flashing neon signs to announce their presence and their mission. • Meanwhile, there is one more factor that readers deserved to be told. Namely: The first months of Bush's presidency have been marked by a firm clamp-down on access to officials by journalists — so tight, in fact, that even the capital's most conservative journalists complain privately about being shut out. This, naturally but wrongly, might induce some journalists to try to curry favor with sources by writing gushing pieces. Which makes it all the more imperative that journalists who are indeed the tops of their profession not permit themselves to be tops that are easily spun. • Columnist Martin Schram can be reached in care of Scripps Howard News Service, 1090 Vermont Ave. NW, Suite 1000, Washington, D.C. 20005. Playing foolish games with China We were mad, but not mad enough to boycott Chinese goods sold at K Mart —t— THOMAS OLIPHANT The Boston Globe up to $1,508,638, but only $90,500 came back to the district for economic development. You do the math. This year a gambling counseling hotline has been established in Kansas. It uses $80,000 from the lottery and $20,000 from the bingo fund to pay for the counseling hotline. If you know someone that needs help the toll-free number is 1-866662-3800. Nebraska spends $1.2 million of its lottery funds to pay for compulsive gambling treatment programs. Have you heard the "frog in the kettle" theory? You put a frog in a kettle of warm water and he swims around happy as can be. Every day you raise the temperature just one degree, so slowly that he doesn't realize he's cooked, until it's too late. As long as the money from, the lottery is going for a good cause, or lottery money is being used instead of tax dollars, well, then, gambling is OK. What message does this send to our youth? Gambling's all right if the money goes to a good cause. You can get something for nothing. The state wants to fund their education with gambling dollars. Of course the next step is slot hiachines. They have been called the crack cocaine of gambling. Very addictive and the gambler loses more money even more quickly If slots pass, then what will the state be asked to legalize next? If you look at the real costs of gambling I don't believe it's worth it. I voted against the lottery and will vote against slot machines. — Rep. LAURA L. McCLURE Osborne WASHINGTON — Attention K Mart shoppers: They're mad again. That's how they were the moment the spy plane hit the airfield on Hainan uninvited. But then they got smart, realizing that for all the fun politicians encourage us to poke at diplomats they have this odd skiU at sorting out the key elements of difficult relationships. No sooner had the spy plane's 24-person crew ^ made it safely into international air space, however, that they got mad again. The word they prefer is tough. So what does tough really mean? Despite some silly propaganda, it does not mean mass boycotts of consumer goods made in China. I was in a Virginia K Mart last week and the only detectible emotion was relief that the Americans were safe, not determination to look harder for more expensive consumer goods. Stripped of sound bite fudge, "tough" means they (the Bush administration) are so mad that this week they intend to insist that they will continue risking the lives of U.S. military and intelligence personnel on missions that are not designed to collect vital information, but to be provocative. To put it another way, we fly the EP-3E along the Chinese coast because we can. We also do it because it makes the Chinese mad. Nearly 50 years ago, after an ancestor of the EP-3E was shot down. President Eisenhower said that if the Chinese ever flew spy planes along our Pacific coast, we would shoot them down in a second, regardless of whether they were just in or just out of international territory After We are moving toward a situation that confirms the worst fears and advances the most irresponsible agendas of the most truculent forces on both sides. all, spy planes are hardly using international air space to listen in on the fish. That attitude, however, is denied the Chinese. We are the world's only superpower, you see, and that means that in a post-Cold War world, normal human rules of behavior that we would instinctively assert are denied to others. Being a superpower apparently means never having to say you're sorry. This, of course, is nuts. It is second-rate guy stuff applied outside the barroom, the ballfield, and office. Americans should get used to it, unfortunately The administration has arrived intent on causing trouble for China throughout Asia and not merely in the South China Sea, but at the same time not in ways that disturb a still-growing economic tie. The same goes for Russia in Eiu-ope, but that's another story As a symbol of not very benevolent intentions, however, the EP-3E is lousy To use another Cold War analogy the lumbering prop is today's equivalent of the U.S. nuclear'missiles in Turkey 40 years ago. At the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the United States still had missiles on bases in NATO ally Turkey aimed at the Soviet Union, even though the arms race's escalation to intercontinental weaponry had rendered them obsolete. President Kennedy assumed an order to dismantle them had been carried out quickly and he was apoplectic to discover during the mis- DOONESBURY sile crisis that they were still there. The missiles in Turkey were not the reason for the Soviets' mad decision to deploy offensive weapons in Cuba, but they gave the Communists leverage during the crisis, and their quiet dismantlement got Kennedy some guff from right wingers after the affair had ended. Today, however. Bush is determined that the EP-3E is to remain a potential flash point for a relationship whose deterioration (from partnership to strategic competition) he has long advocated. And for what? The EP-3E is part of a huge spying operation aimed at China that has redundancy built deeply into it. We have larger, faster planes that can operate further out and higher up to collect virtually the same electronic intelligence. We operate dishes that can collect it as well, not to mention satellites that can provide good pictures of a soccer match in Shanghai. If the spy plane flights were so vital, one can wonder why the planes always fly unescorted and unprotected from Chinese harassment. In part, U.S. officials say the EP-3E flights provide information on the Chinese reacting to them on the ground and in the air The obvious irritant, they add, is part of a variety of American measures that they say exist because the Chinese (foolishly) decline to rule out force in resolving their central issues with Taiwan. If one isn't careful, it's easy to get drawn into the illogic of such a situation. The fact is, we are moving toward a situation that confirms the worst fears and advances the most irresponsible agendas of the most truculent forces on both sides. The fact also is that what almost became a cri^ sis did not end with the release of the EP: 3E's crew. That was only the end of a deeply troubling beginning. • Boston Globe columnist Thomas Oliphant can be reached by e-mail at oliphant@globe.com. \ By G.B. TRUDEAU 5 /R. IN 7m CAffTMOm You'mt <Juei ?RUi5S ON 002/N7H5AtfZANP> ARSeNC /N Thie mTBR, ANPmjposeP oPBNm NmiONALPO/ieSlSTO /?OftP$ANPPf^U/NG.. OFTNeNAWML PRmscrr ie^.TMCOMMirmp TO PF (arSCnN(57fi5 NATtON^ SAiA^N5UA SUPPLY/

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