The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 27, 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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Monday, January 27, 1986
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Page 4
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Opinion The Salina Journal Monday, January 27,1986 Page 4 •n -x^fi-' T 1 1 he Journal Founded in 1871 HARRIS RAYL, Editor and Publisher KAYBERENSON, Executive Editor SCOTT SEIRER, News Editor LARRY MATHEWS, Assistant News Editor LORI BRACK, Weekend Editor JIM HAAG, Night Editor MARY JO PROCHAZKA, Associate Editor A national priority Something's gone awry with the president's persistent promise that prosperity is just around the corner. Not much appears to have changed since two years ago, when the Census Bureau reported that poverty had spread through America since 1979, even when such benefits as food stamps and Medicaid were taken into account. Now we have more alarming reports. From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities comes news that monthly unemployment benefits aided just one of every three jobless workers last year. More than 5 million Americans — two-thirds of the jobless — had to get by without the help many assume is automatic, the research group said. That rate is a sharp change from a decade ago, when three of four jobless workers received unemployment benefits. From the U.S. Conference of Mayors comes news that demands for emergency shelter and food rose dramatically last year, causing many cities to turn away poor people after shelters were filled and food supplies depleted. The number of families asking for emergency food increased in all but two of the 25 cities surveyed in the United States and Puerto Rico. Requests for shelter increased by an average of 25 percent over 1984, and no cities reported fewer requests for shelter. Two-thirds of the cities turn some hungry people away, leaving an estimated 17 percent of the demand for food unmet. More than half the cities turn some homeless people away because emergency shelters are full. Domestic spending always has played second fiddle for President Reagan, who probably philosophizes that in some way the billions of dollars funneled to the military- industrial complex will somehow trickle down to help the hungry and homeless. Reagan would like to see private donations and local governments take care of the needy. But hunger and homelessness are not purely local problems. Many of the residents of Phoenix's tent city, for example, are not natives of Phoenix or even Arizona. Some traveled there to look for brighter futures, and, finding none, stayed because the climate allows them to live outdoors without homes. Local governments can't handle such burdens. This year, when the Statue of Liberty is to be unveiled from her facelift, is a good time to ponder national priorities. If the lady with the torch truly stands for a country that says, "Give me your tired, your poor," the country must do better than provide a land of plenty in which plenty do without. On fair play, openness, a string of bank failures The small society The nation's first bank failure of 1986 occurred in White City, southeast of Salina, Jan. 9. Kansas continues to make banking news, more sad chords for a chorus of 13 bank failures in 1985. The White City bank was reopened as the Bank of White City with insured accounts and other machinery to protect depositors. This is not to rehash sad times in farm towns. We all know about that. What we haven't discussed enough are the ethics that have much to do with how we got in this mess — all over the state and the country, not just rural Kansas. We have been discussing in print and on television the financial concerns of "problem banks." The lists of them came from the Comptroller of the Currency or the Federal Reserve and comprised big, faraway institutions — Chase Manhattan, First National City Bank and so forth. Then came news of others that were more than problems, and they weren't in New York. They were in places such as Ohio, Oklahoma and Illinois. They had failed. Now, Kansas. The troubles that lead to bank failures have less to do with the business of farming than the business of banking in Kansas or anywhere else. In farm banking there are more imponderables, such as the weather, disease and bugs — but no more than in city banking, where anyone with What others say The sales job ''Welcome back, legislators," the Topeka Capital-Journal trumpeted ... as the Topeka newspaper opened the lawmaking season with some helpful tourist hints to aid the incoming dispensers of public money. But even as the leader of the Topeka establishment welcomed the legislators back, it couldn't restrain itself from slipping in one more sales job on Washburn University. "On a nice day," the newspaper gurgled, "we would recommend that you head over to Washburn University for a stroll around the campus. Leisurely or brisk, be sure to note what an asset Washburn would be to the state university system." The legislators should follow the Topeka editor's advice. Leisurely or brisk, the walk would aid digestion. It would help with any dieting problems. It would also comfort any of the home folks who think the state would be better off if all legislators stayed away from the Capitol. However, as the legislators wander, leisurely or briskly, through Washburn University's municipally glorious campus, the legislators might also ponder one fascinating, and governmentally digestive, question: If Washburn University would be such a fantastic asset, why would Topeka want to give it to us? • And if any wandering legislator doesn't instantly realize the answer to that question, we strongly urge he hang up the phone quickly next time a salesman offers to sell him precious rubies that are sure to go up 85 percent in value in 6 months. —The Hutchinson News Kansas press is in a dither When Karen Carlin faded from the public scene, Kansas was left without any sort of light diversion from the ponderous affairs of state. Last week that void was filled by members of the Kansas press who flogged themselves dizzy in a dispute about smoking. The episode started with a petition that was signed by six reporters who cover state events in Topeka. Their petition asked the Legislature to forbid smoking in most public areas of the state Capitol. Smoke, they said, was hazardous to their health. Among those who signed were two reporters from The Associated Press. The petition set off an explosion in Wichita. Davis Merritt, editor of the Wichita Eagle, reacted with "astonishment and dismay." He said the petition was "entirely inappropriate and unprofessional." Reporters should not try to influence the Legislature, he said. That makes them lobbyists. Mr. Merritt warned that Associated Press stories from Topeka would be under suspicion in the future because the two reporters had compromised themselves. John Marshall I HARRIS NEWS SERVICE plastic or paper can start paving the land instead of planting it. The problem with "problem" banks is partly one of management. And greed. One result of this, bank examiners say, is a high percentage of substandard or "doubtful" loans. Until it was too late, a dominant theme at bank seminars was to loan money, and rake in the interest. Competition was hot. More attention was paid to making a loan than the borrower's ability to repay it. Trouble was inevitable. Many banks had loaned more money than they could collect — or refund to depositors in the event of default. In too many cases, the worst happened. Some bankers try to pooh-pooh the notion that they got greedy. Troubled farms and bad luck, they say. That's true, to a point. But they step too far when they hide behind walls of confidentiality; most banks are in no danger and most bank matters should not be discussed prematurely in public, they say. That's bilge. Reporting and study of the problems in banking or anything else is precisely what newspapers, the Legislature and the Congress should do. If they don't, the mistakes and the questionable excesses can't be corrected. We've already looked the other way for more years than we should, and look what's happened. The banks' episode also illustrates a continuing weakness in most of the nation's business. Many leaders are so wrapped up in approaching all their troubles as a public relations problem that they ignore the ethical base that must be restored. Business needs to tell the truth about itself, not try to hide it. One of those truths is that executives — especially those in the big time — still aren't shocked when one of their own suffers a form of disgrace. A corporate bigshot winds up with a fine or a few months in prison for cheating investors out of millions. A new breed of con artists promotes get-rich quick schemes on television and gets a fee. Any lack of ethics, or concern for basic human values, eventually erodes strong businesses, the general economy and the liveability of our cities, towns and farms. We must renew our investment in fah* play and honesty and openness on today's market, from White City through New York City. They are as much a part of business on all community streets as is Wall Street itself. Errors of fact crept into column on court abuse A counterattack was launched by two people from the Harris newspapers. Julie Doll, editor of the Hays Daily News, pointed out that Mr. Merritt raised no such objections when AP reporters appeared before the state Supreme Court in favor of cameras in the courtrooms. Dale Goter, a Topeka reporter for the Harris papers, pointed out that Wichita Eagle correspondents in Topeka accept special treatment from state government. The Eagle reporters "enjoy free office space, free water, free electricty and heat, free coffee, free parking privileges and free photocopying" in the press areas of the Capitol. All of this debate is healthy if it does not get out of hand. It raises questions of ethics that have troubled journalists in recent years. Consider this: If a press photographer finds an accident victim bleeding to death from a severed arm, should he take a picture first or apply a tourniquet? Are journalists human beings? -• —The Emporia Gazette WASHINGTON — I wrote a column last month having to do with frivolous lawsuits. My observations were touched off by an order of the Supreme Court in a case involving attorney John Hyde of Hammond, Ind. In my column I made two errors of fact. Let me correct these; let me make amends to Mr. Hyde; and let me return to the subject. The case began in 1981 when Victor Lepucki, an employee of Inland Steel, filed a form claiming complete exemption from withholding of federal income taxes. The company sent the form to the Internal Revenue Service, and the IRS bounced it back with an order to proceed with the withholding. At about the same time, Kenneth Pazdur, an employee of Blaw-Knox Foundry & Mill Machinery, also challenged federal authority. Both Lepucki and Pazdur retained Hyde to represent them. The cases wound up in the U.S. District Court for the northern district of Indiana. Hyde sued not only the companies, but also an Inland paymaster, an agent of the IRS and Secretary of the Treasury Donald Regan. He argued that "this nation's monetary and income tax systems are an outrageous fraud upon the people." Hyde's principal contention was that Federal Reserve notes are not "dollars" in the constitutional sense. Such notes may be "money," but "they are not dollars and cannot be made legal tender for the payment of debts." Only gold and silver are truly legal tender. I said in my column that Hyde regarded the 18th-century Spanish gold doubloon as a standard of value for the founding fathers. This was in error. Hyde's conviction is that the framers of the Constitution had in mind the Spanish milled dollar of 1786, a coin containing 371.25 grains of fine silver. James Kilpatrick UNIVERSAL PRESS Both the trial court and the Seventh U.S. Circuit dismissed Hyde's contentions out of hand. The appellate court termed Hyde's litigation "outrageous — so absurd that it merits no response." The court regarded his suit as "yet another disturbing example of a patently frivolous appeal filed by abusers of the tax system merely to delay and harass the collection of public revenues." Hyde was ordered to pay $500 in damages to each company. Hyde then sought an appeal to the Supreme Court on the grounds that "the judgment is for dollars and there are no lawful dollars now in circulation so that it is not possible for me to comply with the order of the court." The Supreme Court refused to accept this line of reasoning. I said in my column that the high court "imposed a fine" of $1,000 on Hyde. This was wrong. The court affirmed the award of $1,000 in damages under Rule 49.2, which covers "frivolous" petitions for review. In his petition to the Supreme Court, Hyde argued earnestly, and with manifest sincerity, that questions of constitutional law must forever be kept open to judicial review. In theory this may be quite true. Hyde's basic argument is plausible: If we believe, as many scholars and jurists do believe, that the Constitution should be interpreted in terms of the "intention of the framers," what interpretation should we put on the word "dollars?" Hyde argues, that the word should mean today "whatever a dollar meant to the people who inserted it into the Constitution." Yet there comes a time when some questions have to be regarded as absolutely settled — and the question of legal tender has been settled for more than a hundred years. We might as usefully go to court on the issue of secession. Were the Reconstruction amendments validly ratified? Citing the doctrines of equal protection, an ingenious litigant might challenge the system by which even the smallest state has two members of the Senate. Our overburdened courts simply do not have the time to waste on such litigation. Chief Justice Burger dwelled on this point in his year-end review. He noted that in the past two years, lower federal courts have approved nearly a hundred requests for punitive sanctions. The development, he said, is long overdue. "No one wishes to suppress hard-fought advocacy, but a line needs to be drawn between fair blows and fouls; zealous representation is our ideal, not dilatory or abusive gamesmanship.'' I'm sorry I said Hyde was "fined." He wasn't fined. He was ordered to pay damages for bringing "patently frivolous" litigation. Such sanctions are sound in principle. Our courts have better things to do than to ponder the Spanish milled dollar of 1786. Quotation The exclusive worship of the bitch-goddess Success (is) our national disease. —William James Doonesbury TVZ&NG yOU, 0UTIWWTEPTOtR5$

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