The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 4, 2001 · Page 11
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 11

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THE SALINA JOURNAL FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2001 AH 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 Salina, KS 67402 Fax: (785) 827-6363 E-mail: , SJLetters® , i$,aljoumal.cpm Quote of the day "There are ways and there are means.We don't have enough means right now." Sen. Lana Oleen R-Manhattan, Senate majority leader, on the Impasse over spending arid taxing in the Kansas Legislature. fools CHENEY THE ISSUE The Bush-Cheney energy policy THE ARGUMENT Let us think our way out of this W hen it comes to keeping our homes warm and our cars running, the problem with the Clinton administration was that it didn't have an energy policy. The problem with the| Bush administration is that it does have an energy policy Vice President Dick Cheney Monday fulfilled the caricature his opponents have drawn of him — a guy who took a stupendous pay cut to give up his job with oU services giant Haliburton—when he outlined a so-called energy policy that basically consists of one word. DriU. Cheney basically swept aside all thoughts that conservation, efficiencies, new technologies or any combination thereof would have any major role to play in meeting America's energy needs in the foreseeable future. Oil, gas and coal, the vice president said, are what run the American economy, and oil, gas and coal will continue to be the lifeblood of our nation. So, he said, we've just got to get with it and start drilling more holes, anywhere and everywhere, including the environmentally sensitive areas such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Well, we are going to have to find more oil and gas. But the suggestion that we can simply dig our way out of our problem is as silly as the idea, which Cheney condemned, that we can simply conserve our way out of it. Besides, oil men who seek federal blessings to drill more might have a thoughtful cup of coffee with the farmers who have been encouraged to grow more, and talk about where that has gotten them. Both Cheney's approach and that of those on the opposite end of the environment-energy spectrum are overly simplistic and designed to represent one side or the other as, wrongly, the painless alternative. But at least the green crowd shows some confidence in the American people to think our way out of this. Strangely, it is the supposedly business-friendly Bush administration that shows no faith in the inventiveness and resourcefulness of its own people. We do need, and we can create, new ways to generate electricity and to power automobiles that don't require burning, or burning as much, fossil fuels. We do need, and we can invent, more efficient ways to generate, transmit and use electric power. We do need, and we can sell, homes, cars, factories and public buildings that operate just fine, thank you very much, on significantly less energy than we now use. In fact, those who do the creating, inventing and selling will, and deserve to, become very rich indeed. And the government should do nothing to keep the balance of power tilted toward the fossil industry — sorry, the fossil/ucZs industry — when the future so clearly demands a more inventive approach. — George B. Pyle Journal Columnist T LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL Sound economic policy • BY THE BAY Whatever the market will bear M y Volga German ancestors, who lived in South Russia from 1765 to 1875, had a sound and practi- 4 ^1 social and economic policy ijri their villages along the Vol^a. River. One third of their annual crop was stored in granaries in case of an emergency, one third went to market for cash income, and one third was kept for home consumption. Gov. Bill Graves rode his sleek, white re-election stallion into town in 1998 on generous tax cuts. Now necessary state Let ys know programs for fiscal year 2002 will be underfunded by about $205 million. It looks like Gov. Graves will be riding the old grey mare of tax increases out of town in the last year of his second term in office to stave off the financial emergency we are in. This obviously is all an oversimplification, I admit. But the Volga German Democrat descendent can hardly keep a straight face. — FRED KARLIN Beloit i Letters to the Journal are welcome but, like everything else . in the newspaper, are subject to being edited for space, I clarity and taste. All letters must include a daytime I' telephone number for confirmation. No anonymous letters 1 will be published. STEPHANIE SALTER San Francisco Chronicle # We live in a society that is totally devoted to the making of money N ot long ago a woman called to give me hell for a column criticizing the excesses of a free-market economy "Maybe you should take a vacation," she began, "or go back to writing sports." Whatever the choice, any change would be welcome because "I am sick to death of you wagging your finger and telling us what bad, bad people we ^ are. You are so unhappy" Since the woman didn't leave her name or number, I couldn't call her back to tell her that her assumption was only half-right. Personally, it has been decades since I've been as strife-free or sleeping as peacefully as I am of late. But as a citizen of this city, country and world, I stand guilty as charged: I am unhappy My melancholy is the byproduct of living in a society that preaches a great game of individual worth and Christian or "family" values but which — evidence abounds — practices a far different philosophy. When we turn down the sound on the TV show that is "The United States 2001," and simply describe the action, what do we see? Basically a nation of 270 million people who — vvhether they like it or not — adhere to a predominant ethos. No, not "In God We Trust." More like; "There's no such thing as enough." Or, as Susan Sontag put, it this month during an appearance in Berkeley: "There is this amazing hegemony of business values, of the values of making money, of the commercial civilization." The result? Ours is now "a society which is entirely devoted to and sanctifying of the making of money" Americans have long put down other nations' aristocracies or ruling bloodlines. Why is the amassing of money, and the conspicuous consumption that tends to accompany it, a nobler standard? Why is a six-or-seven-figure salary a better gauge of a person's intrinsic worth than who his great-great-great granddaddy was or what large chunk of real estate the family once called home? Don't tell me that, here, it's all about "hard work." I can start on the first page of my address book and find a dozen people who work 50 times harder than Dick Cheney or y LIBERTIES I 'LL TRAPg THBSS Waic BEANS FOR. i'oOR CoO. TMig IS 7He COU3 JV£ fclNOuM /^^oToy ^''y^ THIMK, ABOUT A iJONdERFUL A^jfcgf ^Nyr ^LK.^ DO PgoPt^evfR FAUL oPP 7H\? flfAfs^ST-ACK ? ^ \^ DoeshJ'T IT B£Lohl& TO A GlAMf CORPORATION WAT i^JILL e>RiNP My BONES TO MAKE ITS BRSAPl TJieDetateSoFar KOH? TIME Paul O'Neill ever thought of working — and I wouldn't even get to the M's. But none of those folks began this year with financial assets of about $60 million, as did Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. Nor did any of them rake in $21.8 million during the last decade, as did the vice president-select (or kick in a puny $209,832 to charity in the same period). Then again, none of the people I know managed to snare over five years $3.8 billion in federal contracts and taxpayer- backed loans as Cheney did for his pre- White House employer, Halliburton oil. No, it is not about hard work. It is now, more than ever in our history, about what the market will bear And let me tell you, the market wiU bear an infinite number of atrocities and injustices, an immeasurable amoimt of degradation and deprivation. Because the market has no moral center, it can bear one out of five U.S. children living in poverty about the same number growing up malnourished, and more than 15 percent having no health coverage. It can bear national and state lawmakers counting beans on the backs of 4-year-olds in need of programs such as Project Head Start. It can bear those same lawmakers responding to the national health crisis that is drug addiction by building more prisons than we can staff then lowering the age limit for prison guards as well as the age at which we can prosecute children as adults.' The market also can bear the pernicious, contradictory tension in which millions of U.S. women must operate. Told that quality nurturing parenthood is the only acceptable standard, women also know their labor outside the home is crucial to keeping the economy "healthy." So is their unpaid labor when they get home and start nurturing. And let us not even go off-shore to see what the market will bear there. Suffice to say it will bear millions of Africans dying of AIDS for want of affordable medicines, and men, women and children in other developing nations working in conditions that often make the term "sweatshop" a warm and fuzzy euphemism. I remember reading somewhere that what saves capitalism from ultimately running out of control and cannibalizing its consumer core is the collective understanding that profits must be used for more than reinvestment, growth and expansion; a substantial proportion must be committed to the health and perpetuation of the community as a whole. Today, that is one thing the market seems unable to bear. Doesn't that make you unhappy? • San Francisco Chronicle columnist Stephanie Salter can be reached by e-mail at ssalter@sfchronicle.com. Cobras thrive surrounded by rats So, If I'm The Cobra, is W. the mongoose or the snake charmer? W ASHINGTON — So I found myself on Friday in the Cobra Reading Room on the Web. I had discovered on the Hotline, the Racing Form of politics, that President Bush's nickname for me is "The Cobra." I wasn't sure if that was an insult or a sign of respect. So I figured I'd read up on some cobra traits. "The cobra lives near towns where mice and rats abound." Well, I thought, that fits. "Cobras have extensive tissues that store fat." Yup. "The venom of cobras acts powerfully on the nerves of those it attacks." Clearly Maybe the president had it right. I was a major- #> league asp. I puzzled over whether W. fancied himself the mongoose or the snake charmer in this allegory Either way I knew he would expect me to hiss a bit about his first 100 days. It has been a strange start. Al Gore jokes he should be addressed as "Your Adequacy" But W. risks being "Your Inadequacy" Men customarily build their presidencies around their strengths. W. has built his around his weaknesses. His White House reminds me of the 1937 movie "Damsel in Distress," in which Fred Astaire has to frantically pirouette around Joan Fontaine to make up for the fact that she cannot dance. Bush officials are always frantically pirouetting around W, making up for his stumbles and lacunae. Last week, the president threw the plan- MAUREEN DOWD T )ie New York Times The Bush White House reminds me of the 1937 movie "Damsel in Distress," in which Fred Astaire has to frantically pirouette around Joan Fontaine to make up for the fact that she cannot dance. et into a turmoil when he went on "Good Morning America" and said he was willing to "do whatever it took to help Taiwan defend herself" against a Chinese attack, including sending American forces. Obviously Bush did not set out to change nearly 30 years of American policy on a morning chat show. But, sensitive about W.'s reputation as a featherweight, his aides did not want the president to have to admit he made a boo-boo and is a yo-yo who can't be trusted to carry on a brief discussion about his own policies with hard-hitting Charlie Gibson. (Hiss!) So they tried to soften his statement while letting it stand, thereby enraging Beijing further. On Friday night. Uncle Dick Cheney had to go on Larry King and explain in that reassuring basso that the Kid was not changing policy. W.'s advisers tried to make him look more impressive in his first forays into diplomacy by keeping the big world leaders at bay and letting him hang out with lesser leaders he could talk to in Spanish. So now we have a whole new alliance with Central and South American countries simply because W. feels more comfortable at what USA Today dubbed "amigo diplomacy." The ill-prepared president doesn't seem troubled by the state of his preparedness. There's no indication he's staying up late to make up the work. He isn't even aspiring to on-the-job training. The White House simply pretends that thoughtlessness is thoughtfulness, and that the president is governing when he is gaffe-ing. (Hiss!) His team overreacts to his father's failings. Karl Rove, aka "Boy Genius," in W.'s nickname lexicon, is so assiduous about buttering up the right, which grew disillusioned with Bush pere, that he has alienated swing voters and Republican suburban women on the environment and abortion. Lee Atwater, the bad-boy strategist for Bush Sr. who was a mentor to Rove, aimed to keep the right happy but he never bowed and scraped to "extra-chromosome conser- yatives," as he and his boss called them. It is ironic, given how intently they are shaping Bush II to avoid the errors of Rush I, that W.'s weakness in poUs at the start is the same one that sunk his dad in the end. In last week's ABC News/Washington Post poll, 51 percent said the president does not "understand the problems of people like you." When the father got tarred for being out of touch, it was because of his patrician ways and because he was absorbed in his avocation, international affairs, while this country was hurting economically The son has a plain-spoken, colloquial style and homespun tastes. He runs from his gilded cradle, avoiding Yale and refusing to acknowledge Connecticut as his birthplace on a recent trip there. But he is not seen as a populist, either He, too, is surrounded by wealthy older men. And they have given his economic and environmental policies a strong corporate aroma. Air Force One is beginning to look like the company plane. (Hiss!) • Columnist Maureen Dowd can be reached in care of The New York Times, 229 W. 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036. DOONESBURY FLASHBACKS By G.B. TRUDEAU

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