Opinion The Salina Journal Thursday, January 23,1986 Page 4 T1 £tefc:fei T 1 1 he 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 Transient law The enthusiasm for the transient merchant law was fleeting. The Legislature's attempt last year to levy a $250 license fee on merchants passing through the state sparked controversy soon after its passage. Now the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee has begun conducting hearings on a bill that would remedy some of the problems with last year's law. That law was supposed to protect consumers from shoddy merchandise offered by transient peddlers. It also would have helped protect Kansas merchants from "unfair" competition by sellers who spend a few days selling merchandise from street corners, motel rooms or other short- term locations. Like most protectionist efforts, it backfired. Salina lost an antique show when promoters learned the new law would trigger enforcement of an old law requiring transient merchants to pay a year's property tax on all inventory brought into the state. The cancellation of the show was another nibble at a shrinking local economy. The exhibitors would have stayed in area motels, eaten at area restaurants and attracted out-of- towners to Salina to view their wares and to eat at local restaurants, shop at local stores, etc. But the problem with the law goes beyond its economic impact. It is simply unfair to expect merchants doing business for a short time in the state to pay property taxes on merchandise as though it were here all year. Even though the amounts involved are small, traveling merchants are understandably incensed at the idea of paying a full year's taxes for a few days of business in the state. The ill will and potential for lost revenue from cancelled shows outweigh the tax revenue to be collected. The law requiring transient merchants to pay full property taxes should be in the trash barrel before the session ends. Too many days Remember our criticism of the achievements of Congress last year? We take it all back. We've just come across a listing of some of Congress' accomplishments. During 1985, Congress: • Declared National Sewing Month; • Decided not to print documents recording the increase in public debt on parchment paper; • Named the courthouse in Ashland, Ky.; • Set aside National High-Tech Month, Daughters of Veterans of the Civil War Day and Baltic Freedom Day. Those are just a few of the major issues Congress decisively dealt with in 1985. Such bills are classed as non- substantive or administrative by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, which last year kept track of how many of them were passed. According to a list compiled by the committee, 70 percent of the 189 public laws passed last year were not substantive. That percentage has been rocketing upward since 1977 when 17 percent of the laws passed fell into the nonsubstantive category. The temptation is to blame Congress for wasting tune on such trivia. Congress deserves to take that blame. But any finger pointed at a Congressional representative should also point to constituents. Few of those bills honoring groups, industries or causes are the brainchildren of senators and representatives. They are conceived and pushed through Congress by the various special interests. It's time for a ban on all such proclamations. Congress can and should declare national holidays honoring significant events and significant Americans. But other proclamations are a waste of tune. If groups want weeks named for their cause, let them issue then- own proclamations. They can publicize the week and schedule special events. Who would know or care whether or not Congress had proclaimed it? In keeping with that spirit, we hereby proclaim this "National No More Official Weeks Year." Pass it on. Coyote story brings comments For the past 10 days, irate readers have been calling and writing The Journal to complain about a news story and picture we ran on Jan. 12. No one on the staff, including me, was surprised to get the complaint calls. Several staffers who had written stories on the subject in the past suggested they might take a vacation for a few days after the story appeared in the paper — to get some peace and quiet away from the ringing phones they expected here. The subject that prompted such anticipation was trapping — in particular, a decision to run a picture of a trapper shooting a coyote caught in a trap. Sure enough, the complaint calls started soon after the picture ran. The calls were followed days later by letters to the editor. The callers and letter writers sounded a refrain of "You shouldn't have published it" and "You ruined my breakfast." More significantly, most said we had some bias in publishing it. But, oddly, the callers disagreed about what that bias was. Non-trappers felt the picture and the story glorified trapping, made the trapper seem like a real glorious macho type. Trappers and hunters complained that the story and picture made trappers look like vicious threats to civilization and would provide further ammunition to the anti-hunting folks. One hunter complained that The Journal was using the story and picture to reinforce its anti-hunting stand on the editorial page. (No one on the staff can recall The Journal having taken an anti-hunting editorial stand.) One letter-writer accused the photographer of retouching the picture to soften the impact of the animal caught in the trap, as part of our plot to glorify trapping. The picture was retouched, but only to make the coyote, which was difficult to see against the white snow, more visible. Kay Berenson EXECUTIVE EDITOR That answers one reader question. Now for the larger reader question: What bias did we aim to serve by printing the picture and story? The answer: None. We printed the story and the picture because trapping coyotes in the manner described is a fact of Kansas life. It is not illegal. The morality of it, as reader response demonstrated, is open to debate. But the news columns won't resolve that debate. They will only present the facts. If The Journal's writers or photographers want to argue one side or the other of the trapping issue, or any other debate, they may, but only in signed personal columns or on the editorial page. The only aim of the trapper story was to present in as objective a manner as possible a controversial practice. In view of the split in reader opinion, I think we achieved that. Quotation It is style which complements affirmation with limitation and with humility; it is style which makes it possible to act effectively, but not absolutely; it is style which enables us to find harmony between the pursuit of ends essential to us, and the regard for the views, the sensibilities, the aspirations of others; it is style which is the deference that action pays to uncertainty; it is above all style through which power defers to reason. — J. Robert Oppenheimer QK-^p y/B6p, mu DOESN'T MS Si "RUSSIANS' NoW.f&E&'S AN ORIGINAL DID YOU HEMflfW ORGINA THOUGHT// Frank Carlson: an accomplished public servant Frank Carlson, a gentle giant of public accomplishment for more than four decades, will be 93 today. We may remember the man and his birthday for more than a moment, but Kansas and much of the nation will have his gifts for generations. He has always been the quiet Concordian, even as he caused monumental reform of the federal tax law, rewrote the nation's flood control legislation, caused the Kansas repeal of prohibition, demanded statewide reforms in mental health care, even as he came to know, during 34 years in public office, six presidents, and know them well. Frank Carlson is the only Kansan ever elected to the U.S. House, governor and the U.S. Senate. More, he was elected to multiple terms in each office and was never defeated. That record, from his election to the House in 1934 until he retired from the Senate in 1968, is enough by itself. Carlson also got a lot done in all those busy years. * * * This green, dust bowl Republican in a New Deal Democrat House, was assigned as a laugh to the Flood Control Committee in 1935. But chairman Will Whittington was from Mississippi, where too much water was a problem. He and Carlson sat down and wrote laws that allowed dry states to keep the water that would flood the south. In 1937, Kanopolis Reservoir in Ellsworth County was planned as the state's first federal reservoir. In his next term he was appointed to the Ways and Means Committee. He and Beardsley Ruml, chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, wrote legislation that allowed for payroll deduction of federal in- John Marshall HARRIS NEWS SERVICE come taxes. Carlson became the committee's ranking Republican and the foremost tax expert of the House. Carlson quit Congress in 1946, returned to Kansas and was elected governor. He fought to keep the state's 1-cent gasoline tax. A nondrinker, he fought to repeal prohibition because it was an unworkable law. He brought together Karl Menninger and Franklin Murphy and directed them to write reforms of the state's mental health program. They did. He never intended to run for the U.S. Senate but Harry Darby, whom he had appointed to fill the unexpired term of the late Clyde Reed, didn't like the job. Carlson was elected in 1950 and quickly sworn in on Nov. 28 to serve Darby's unexpired term; he got six year's seniority on other freshmen (among them Richard Nixon) waiting to take the oath of off ice in January. * * * Carlson's accomplishments are enough to fill all the columns on this page. The drift of them is here already. As a senator, he guided Ike the general to become Ike the president— twice; he sat privately with JFK and agonized over missiles in Cuba, civil rights wars in the south; he was with LBJ during some of his worst, private moments during the Vietnam War. He knew Humphrey and Nixon well. He was a close friend of Robert Kennedy. But he does speak with a special twinkle of one personal accomplishment, the presidential prayer breakfast, now a Washington tradition since 1952. * * * What Carlson has said, from time to time over the years, is as important as what he accomplished. Here are a couple of reminders that even while he was governor, he kept close to the world: • Inaugural address, 1947: "Can we now beat our terrible tanks into tilling tractors so that in peace the struggles for living and security may be lightened, and so that we shall know neither poverty nor more war ? • Speech to the GOP national committee, 1947: "The nation, the world, wants only a chance to right itself — not Uncle Sam as a wet nurse ... we have little Caesars striding up and down the globe clanking their swords and trying to jam down the throats of strange people the idea that we are a peaceful nation." * * * It helps to remember Frank Carlson, the gentle giant who moved a few mountains then so that we would have a more liveable place now. It helps to remember this quiet Con- cordian who once began a career of state and national public service with a campaign he thought he would lose—and spent nearly four decades showing us that no trauma was ever a match for idealism or compassion, or caring. Hope, caution should greet Gorbachev's plan WASHINGTON — "Millennium" carries two definitions, one literal, the other poetic. A millennium is "a period of 1,000 years." It is also "a period of great happiness or human perfection." The proposal advanced last week by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev embraces both meanings. We ought to look at this proposition hopefully — and warily as well. This is what he said: "The Soviet Union is proposing a step-by-step and consistent process of ridding the earth of nuclear weapons, to be implemented and completed within the next 15 years, before the end of this century." In stage one, over the next five to eight years, both sides would reduce by one-half "the nuclear arms that can reach each other's territory." This would include long- range bombers as well as land- and sea-based missiles. At the end of phase one, each side would be limited to 6,000 warheads. In a second stage, beginning no later than 1990, the two powers would "eliminate" their medium-range nuclear weapons and freeze their tactical nuclear systems. "Stage three will begin no later than 1995. At this stage the elimination of all remaining nuclear weapons will be completed. By the end of 1999 there will be no nuclear weapons on earth. A universal accord will be drawn up that such weapons never again will come into being." The Gorbachev proposal contains other elements. Manifestly it could not succeed unless other nuclear powers — England, France, China, presumably Israel, possibly India — joined in the accord. Gorbachev makes the whole plan contingent upon abandonment by the United States of development and deployment of defensive weapons in space. There would also be a ban on "non- nuclear weapons based on new physical James Kilpatrick UNIVERSAL PRESS principles whose destructive capacity is close to that of nuclear arms." Gorbachev further suggests the "complete elimination of such barbaric weapons of mass destruction as chemical weapons." Finally he proposes that conventional weapons and armed forces also become subject to agreed reductions. What is one to make of all this? On the record of the past 50 years, the Soviet Union could not care less about world opinion, but Gorbachev is a genius at public relations. It is truly remarkable to see the head of the Soviet state, whose troops lately have been killing the children of Afghanistan by bombs concealed in toys, wrapping himself in a messiah's mantle of peace on earth, good will toward men. Hope springs eternal. Ronald Reagan has said many times that he shares Gorbachev's millennial dream of a world free of the threat of nuclear war. Could the dream turn into reality? Like all other accords or compacts or treaties, this one has its fine print. The term "warhead," for example, is meaningless without calibration in terms of a warhead's destructive power. The Soviet Union's warheads carry, on average, the equivalent of 400,000 tons of TNT. Ours average about 300,000 tons. The bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945 had the equivalent of 17,000 tons. During this first stage, when each side would cut down to 6,000 warheads, the Soviet Union clearly would maintain a significant advantage. Moreover, the Gorbachev proposal apparently would leave it to each side to decide which warheads would be dismantled to get down to the 6,000 level. Gorbachev is noticeably more specific on the matter of "eliminating" tactical nuclear weapons than he is on subjecting conventional forces to "agreed reductions." If the United States were effectively to disband NATO and withdraw our forces from Europe, would this not leave our Western allies vulnerable to the massive land and air forces of the Warsaw Pact? President Reagan's response was exactly what the occasion demanded. He welcomed the overture. He would look at it carefully. While it contained many old elements, it contained some new elements also. He would direct our negotiators at Geneva to examine it with care. I am skeptical. Hamlet voiced a warning for all ages: "One may smile, and smile, and be a villain." Let us learn about throw- weight; let us learn about verification; let us approach this offer as cautiously as a cat in a cowbarn: We may smell a rat. But let us also move with a prayerful and hopeful heart. 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. Doonesbury . O/TI'M PR. MNATA IOSTHIS NOUNCS HIM BEAR ASK PR.JANATA. L OH. HOW ABOUTPK. VONIMCK* OKPK. KINKAIP? \ PK.VONWKKISA PMAP&CHOL06IST. KINMIPISA FORMER PPO HOCKEY 7KA/N&.
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