The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 31, 1996 · Page 8
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 8

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Thursday, October 31, 1996
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B2 THURSDAY, OCTOBER 31. 1996 THE SALINA JOURNAL George B. Pyle editorial page editor 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: (913) 827-6363 E-mail: SalJoumal @ aol.com Quote of the day "A human being hastoseeanaa about five times before he even remembers it. You are cutting through the clutter of McDonald's and Burger King. Americans are fundamentally programmed to tune out advertising,' Glenn Totten Democratic media consultant, on why campaign commercials run so many times LETTERS P.O. BOX 740, SALINA, KANSAS 67402 Jill Docking shows Kansas common sense I wouldn't be writing this letter if the Republicans had voted for Sheila Frahm in the primary election, just as the voters of Dickinson and Saline counties voted for her over Sam Brownback. They did this as Gov. Graves recommended her over Sam. Now Gov. Graves has joined the big corporations (the filthy rich) and says Brownback will take common sense to the Capitol. I ask the voters of Kansas, when are we supposed to believe our governor? I was convinced in high school at Chapman in 1930 by a professor that an intelligent voter voted for people, not political parties. 1 met Jill Docking when she represented her husband at a meeting in Abilene, when he was running for governor. It was very apparent that she had a good mind and was a very impressive person. Jill would use that mind to represent all the people of Kansas. Sam Brownback says he'll take common sense to Washington. Brownback didn't display any common sense when he voted the same way Newt Gingrich told him 94 percent of the time. Brownback and Pat Roberts say that they will help the farm people and have helped get exports, etc. Neither one of these candidates has said anything about parity prices — when farmers are getting less than 50 percent of parity for nearly everything they have to sell. Both Brownback and Roberts are good on slogans in trying to mislead voters. Roberts seems to be wanting praise for the slogan "Freedom to Farm," when the slogan should be "Freedom for the family farmer to go broke." The big corporate farms are rapidly doing this to the family farmer. Our government, under Brownback's proposal, is only shifting the welfare expense back to the states and the counties, to wit: you and me. It has been in local newspapers that we Voters who make less than $600,000 annually pay an average of more than 12 percent of our income for taxes. Those who make more than $600,000 use less than 3 percent of their income for taxes. I suppose that is because most of their money is in foreign countries. It also seems to be common knowledge that Sam Brownback married a fortune, but it is not Mrs. Brownback's money he is using. Most of us know that when he took a year leave from his position as Kansas Secretary of Agriculture a few years back, was the time that he sold out to the outside organizations. (Some call them insiders) Vote for Jill Docking. Your future and our children's future are more important than Brownback's political career. — ELMER JONES Abilene Lynch sees the needs of 21st Century education As one who has experienced education from several perspectives — teacher, school mental health worker, citizen, parent, and local school board member — I have no doubt that Eloise Lynch is the only choice for the 6th District of the State Board of Education. Eloise understands that students must not only master basic skills, but apply them. Eloise supports our current system of accountability, with continued refinement, which gives the local community maximum information, control and flexibility in what is taught and how. Eloise recognizes that the 21st Century workplace demands changes in job skills, level of education and employee roles. Eloise knows that while Kansas education must improve, that the fact is, under the current accreditation system, Kansas children consistently score in the upper 10 to 15 percent of national exams, and show real decline in virtually no area. However, certain well-organized candidates are using stealth, hit-no-hot-buttons campaign tactics, smoke screens, misinformation and bureaucratic double-speak to confuse public understanding of education. With a private agenda that promises to restrict what and which children learn, weaken education and, paradoxically, seize control of schools from the local community, they are about to capture the State Board of Education. Unless thoughtful citizens address the doubts, hold candidates accountable for ignoring facts, and research the issues, the issues will be inaccurately framed by certain candidates. The State Board of Education race is a bipartisan effort about the future. Eloise will bring Kansans together in our common purpose of improving education, and chart a course of continued reform that leads to positive results, instead of division, acrimony and the destruction of the public school system. — JONIHEIM Salina Bob Dole's retirement is secure; is yours? Who established Social Security and Medicare? The Democrats. Who stole your money from Social Security? The Republicans. Bob Dole's 15 percent tax cut sounds wonderful, but will it really happen? No! Countless economists, business magazines and even Republican Alfonse D'Amato, a Dole friend, are saying this plan would be forced to rob money from Social Security, Medicare and education. This plan will lead to higher interest rates, which will push economic growth downward and it will lead to higher Medicare and supplemental insurance payments which would leave millions of retired Americans without health care. People of Kansas, I say to you: Bob Dole has known only one job and that is as a politician. We, the taxpaying people, have guaranteed that his retirement future is financially secure. Isn't it only fair that the working men and women who have paid this country's bills are also entitled to a secure retirement? Bob Dole is a good man, but he is not the right man for president of the United States. Bob, go home to Florida! — KENNETH L. FRITZ Hoisington By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal Choosing members of the Kansas House THE ISSUE Saline County's delegation THE ARGUMENT Hold one, draw tivo T he people of Saline County are very, very lucky. Six people are seeking to represent them in the Kansas House of Representatives, and there is not a dud in the bunch. But that does not mean the choices are not clear. They are. Though none of the candidates is an embarrassment, a crook or a tool of special interests, each race provides the voters with a clear choice for a better Kansas. The choices Salina County voters make will help determine whether the state will rise to the challenges that face it, or resign itself to mediocrity, seeking security through lame promises of lower taxes. 67th District: Larry Mathews Larry Mathews was a newspaperman for 35 years, 29 of them at the Salina Journal. You should vote for him anyway. The fact is that Mathews, while running as a Democrat, is more of a traditional Republican than the Republican incumbent he is challenging, Rep. Joe Kejr. White-out the name at the top of Mathews' position paper, and even Gov. Bill Graves, another Salina Republican, might mistake it for his own. Mathews, 62, offers simple common sense, along with an ability to add and a sense of responsibility to the next generation. He, like Graves, is much too level-headed to think that taxes can be slashed and the difference made up through some magical continued growth in the state's economy. A decade on the Salina School Board has given Mathews first-hand knowledge of what is needed for the state to carry out its most important function, the education of its children. It is his top priority, and the reason he has taken on the thankless task of running for the Legislature. Kejr, a 37-year-old farmer, is an honest, s-incere, hard-working family man. He wants nothing but the best for Kansas and its people. But his idea of what that would be is seriously distorted by an unrealistic vision of self-reliant families that could all take care of themselves if the government would just take away school breakfasts and allow people to carry concealed weapons. If everyone were as good and decent as Joe Kejr, .then Kejr's ideas about government would be the correct ones. But, then, if everyone were as good and decent as Joe Kejr, we might not need a government at all. We do need a government. And Larry Mathews should be among those charting its course. 69th District: Deena Horst After only one term in the House, Republican Deena Horst has established herself as a serious, dedicated legislator. Horst, a 52-year-old teacher, did not go in for the flashy, pointless attempts to draw attention to herself. Instead, she hunkered down and quietly got a law passed, a law that T TORY NOTIONS HORST MATHEWS requires schools to report all illegal activities that occur in schools. Horst displays a moderate, common-sense approach to working out our problems, while never denying that solutions will be difficult. She seeks workable, not ideological, solutions to issues from welfare reform (expect more from people, and help them achieve it) to abortion (a right the state may not take away). Horst's challenger, Democrat Gary Swartzendruber, is an almost frighteningly intelligent fellow with a lot of real world experience. The 53-year-old auto dealer can see all sides of every issue, and make you see them, too. He would not fall into any ideological traps or commit himself, or his constituents, to any policy fads. Swartzendruber would be an interesting member of the . House — at least, he'd shake things up — if it were not for the fact that voters would have to oust Horst to send him there. But Deena Horst has established a good, solid foothold in the Legislature. She has earned another term. 71st District: Tommye Sexton Tommye Sexton knows that Kansans think they pay a lot of taxes now. She also knows that financial burden is peanuts compared to the social costs that will result if the state does not grapple head-on with the connected issues of education and welfare reform. Because she is a Democrat and a school counselor, one might be forgiven for expecting Sexton to be a bleeding-heart liberal who wants to coddle welfare families. One would be wrong. The new two-year limit on welfare benefits, Sexton says, is just what some people need to focus their minds on getting their lives in order, getting the training they need, and getting themselves a job. But she knows that the state must — must — be a partner in that effort, working with teenage mothers and other welfare clients in everything from day care to vocational training to the most basic social skills. Seventeen years as a teacher and counselor have introduced the 48-year-old Sexton to the good, the bad and the ugly about people, their families and the state that is supposed to serve them. She knows, better than just about anyone, what works and what should be abandoned, where to use tne carrot and where to use the stick. Republican incumbent Rep. Carol Beggs is a level-headed businessman with a distinguished record as a Salina city commissioner. In his one term in the House, he has done nothing to embarrass himself or his constituents. But Beggs, a 69-year-old self-described "motor-sickle dealer," is just a little too quick to fix on tax breaks as the solution to too many problems, and his confidence in the state's current ability to meet such demands as protecting water quality in the face of corporate agriculture is seriously misplaced. If all we needed were someone to mind the store, Beggs would be our man. But we need someone who is eager to roll up her sleeves and stop ignoring the problems that threaten to eat away at the very fiber of our society. We need Tommye Sexton. SEXTON Low voter turnout not always a bad sign Perhaps we are comfortable with the status quo, or want to protest dirty campaigns P resident Glinton wfll win more convincingly than in 1992, when he received 43 percent of the 55 percent of the population 18 or older that voted. That 55 percent was GEORGE F. WILL The Washington Post a 5-point uptick in participation over 1988, and on Tuesday the rate of participation probably will resume its decline. Curtis Gans of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate says low voting rates are symptoms of a multifaceted sickness in the nation's civic culture. Writing in Roll Call, the newspaper that covers Congress, Gans notes a puzzle: Participation should be increasing. The electorate is becoming older, better educated and less mobile; 5 million new voters have been registered since 1992, largely because of the "motor voter" law, which enables people to register where they get driver's licenses or welfare and other social services; a large issue — the role of government generally and the federal government in particular — is being debated; unprecedented sums are being spent on political advocacy; voter mobilization is being encouraged by groups from MTV to the AFL-CIO. Yet the time networks are devoting to political coverage — a leading indicator of the public's interestedness — is down 40 percent from 1992. Cans' list of culprits includes much of modern life: "anti-government demagoguery"; the shift of the Republican Party too far right and a Democratic Party "without a believable message more constant than the most proximate public opinion poll"; the atrophy of both parties and most churches as mobilizing institutions; the savagery of attack ads; government paralysis produced by the national debt; the atomization of society and the isolation of individuals produced by entertainment-driven media, which increase the fragmentation of what used to be a shared body of information. In 1994 only 12 percent of 18- and 19-year-olds voted, and only 15 percent of those 18-24. Of course one way to increase the voting rate would be to raise the voting age. It is said that conservatism increases when the children need orthodontia — when expenses concentrate minds on disposable income. Similarly, participation in elections increases (says Charles Cook, the election analyst) when people's bookshelves are no longer made of boards and cinder Blocks — when people are old enough to care about things that usually pull people to the polls, such as property taxes and schools. But even people with better bookshelves have been voting less than they used to. •What age cohort has the highest voting rate? The cohort with the highest dependency on government — those receiving Social Security and Medicare. Participation increases when politics is not peripheral to happiness. (Participation rates were never below 83.5 percent in 1932 and 1933 in three German elections that decided who would go to concentration camps.) But, then, in a free and constitutional society, elections are of limited importance because life's basic enjoyments are not at risk. Arend Lijphart of the University of California, San Diego, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, advocates compulsory voting — fining nonvoters, as in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Greece, Italy and elsewhere. Even small and irregularly imposed fines produce 95 percent participation in Australia. Lijphart, a liberal, favors coercion because DOONESBURY he thinks low turnouts favor the affluent and educated. But policy preferences are more evenly distributed in the population than he supposes. (In 1994 two conservative Republican Senate candidates carried Tennessee voters earning less than $15,000.) And Lijphart's argument concedes a point conservatives make regarding electorates: smaller means smarter. (Actually, it means more schooled, which is different.) Gans, a Democrat but principled, thinks Republicans should seek a court injunction to prevent networks from declaring a presidential winner until polls have closed in the West. Election Day exit polls will enable networks to declare the winner by 8 p.m. Eastern time, and unless enjoined their policy will be to do so. Gans says such a declaration might depress voting, especially by depressed Republicans, as much as 5 percent among the one-third of those who vote after 6 p.m. in California, Washington and Oregon, where there are many close races. Between 1980 and 1990 the winners in 53 state contests or federal elections in those three states had margins of less than three percentage points. Regarding nationwide participation, Gans rightly stresses complex cultural factors that are resistant to institutional reforms, such as the "motor voter" law. In the most telling test of that law so far — Kentucky's 1995 gubernatorial election — participation by persons who registered when getting driver's licenses was less than half that of "self-motivated" registrants, and participation was just one in 10 by those registered at welfare agencies. Finally, Gans may underestimate the extent to which nonvoting is the way many contented people express passive consent to current conditions. And nonvoting is a sensible way for people who feel soiled by contemporary campaigning to express disgust. By G.B. TRUDEAU NOTHING Le&THAN A FLA- OKAY.IHAVB 7O6OAWN6 YOUON7HATOW,GHA$ei . tltHATPOW THINK, FOLKS? &VeU5A CflLU KK.CBKIAIN NTIL we& m RATINGS.

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