The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 1, 1997 · Page 10
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 10

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Salina, Kansas
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Thursday, May 1, 1997
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Page 10
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B2 THURSDAY, MAY 1. 1997 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: SJLetters© • sallournal.com Quote of the day "Job growth is good. Real income is rising. Sentiment is high. Unemployment is the lowest in years. Times are good/or American consumers." Allen Sinai economist with Primark Decision Economics. OPINION By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal Setting an example THE ISSUE The gift ban for state bureaucrats THE ARGUMBUT It should apply to lawmakers as well O ne of the more brazen examples of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do leadership was brought to the public's attention Monday when Gov. Bill Graves signed into law a bill that will prohibit nearly 43,000 state employees from accepting gifts, meals, even drinks, from anyone who might want a favor from them. But don't blame Graves. The governor's house is in order. The problem is that the ban on gifts to government officials applies only to the executive branch — bureaucrats, regulators and numbers-crunchers. It does not apply to members of the Legislature — the Legislature that passed the bill. Not that the gift ban isn't a good idea. It is. It was a good idea when Graves imposed it on the 1,000 or so state employees within the reach of a simple executive order last year. And it was a good idea when Graves sought to have it expanded to the rest of the state civil service, as the new law does. But why is it a good idea to prohibit those who enforce the law from taking freebies but not a good idea to do the same for those who make the law? Are only bureaucrats vulnerable to the lure of the three-martini lunch? Or are members of the Legislature immune to the temptation of returning favors to those who have fed them? Actually, it is absurd to argue that any of our state officials, elected or appointed, are actually so weak of spirit that they will sell their solemn oath for a cheeseburger. That is not the point. The point is that', while a swanky meal or a free round of golf may not purchase for a favor-seeker the vote or ruling he wants, it will give the petitioners the next best thing. It will give them access, a moment of a busy, influential person's time in which to press their case, to spin the facts that, while true, are aligned in favor of one side's interests. Access does not guarantee success. But it is a darn good first step. And it is a step most Kansans cannot afford to take. Lawmakers seem deeply offended whenever anyone suggests that there should be laws limiting their behavior and the behavior of those who seek to influence them. They take it as an attack on their character, the idea that they need some Jiminy Cricket laws looking over the shoulders all the time. But they don't seem to have a problem casting that same insult at 43,000 of their fellow Kansans. This is ridiculous and downright rude to a large number of our neighbors. So, if you see a state bureaucrat, give him a pat on the back. But, whatever you do, don't offer to buy him lunch. LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL SJLetters@saljournal.com Zook deserves to be remembered Again new parks are being established and named and Mr. Dave Zook's name doesn't seem to be mentioned. For those who don't know or remember him, he was the first recreation director for Salina. He was responsible for establishing the department. He was a true follower of Joseph Lee's philosophy of recreation in re-creating lives through play and leisure activities. Dave Zook went out into the community and became the visible representative of the city government. He helped people feel that government officials do care. I worked as a summer playground supervisor during his tenure in the 1950s, when he established summer programs at all elementary schools to provide activities close to everybody. He saw a need for an additional playground in the area northeast of Pacific and Ninth. He obtained the use of vacant land at Fourth and Antrim. I was assigned to establish a program on this vacant lot with a footlocker of equipment and a picnic table and no trees. The porch of the Scriven family across the street became a storage spot. The Fuller family offered an extension cord to operate a record player for music for singing and dancing and folk games. Others built a softball backstop. We soon had a large group of people, infants through adults, gathering each evening enjoying games, crafts, music, reading. Come winter we moved to the Salvation Army on North Santa Fe. Dave Zook was a hero seeing the P.O. Box 740, Salina, KS 67402 needs of this forgotten community. He always put an emphasis on activities that could be engaged in as individuals. He said people need to learn things they could enjoy when they were alone or with too few for a team. Activities such as board and paper games, crafts, music (with simple instruments) horseshoes, reading books, hopscotch, etc. Every playground had a sandpile for toddlers. I would like to see his name considered for a park or an appropriate recreation area. Play is an important part of life. — WILMA TAYLOR JONES Tulsa, Okla. Journal was irresponsible I cannot believe how irresponsible David Clouston and Scott Seirer were to publish information that the attorney general's office specifically requested not be published because it may prejudice the case. If the attorney general's office thought it would be of benefit to the public, they would not have requested it not be published. Most people know why a grand jury is called. What makes you think you are so much smarter than anyone else, including the attorney general's office? I agree with Mr. Storer's letter of April 21, you cannot undo any damage done by publishing that information, but you could have and should have used good common sense! I guess the Salina Journal just wanted a big headline. — DONNA FISCHER Lincoln T UNCOMMON SENSE Big government by any other name President Clinton's volunteer summit pushed government, but ignored the churches O ne hesitates to be critical of the Summit for America's Future in Philadelphia because the motives of most of those involved appear to be as pure as those who love their mothers, eat apple ^ pie and salute the American flag. But from President Clinton's definition of volunteerism, to the summit's virtual snubbing of churches and other religious bodies which, according to the Gallup organization, already contribute 60 percent of the volunteer effort in this country, it becomes clear this summit was a stealth way to expand government programs and government's reach in spite of a growing awareness of government's inability to reach beyond externals and enter the human heart and soul, where the core of the problem lies. In his radio address Saturday, the president called for $2.75 billion in additional spending to teach children to read by the end of the third grade. He wants another $300 million for "challenge grants" to help parents help their children become effective readers. And he's trying to keep his AmeriCorps "volunteer" program alive in the face of Republican attempts to cut T GRASS ROOTS • CAL THOMAS Los Angeles Times Syndicate this boondoggle. AmeriCorps participants receive living allowances and nearly $5,000 a year for college. When people are paid, they can hardly be considered volunteers. According to the official volunteer summit Web page on the Internet, there are 15 million at-risk young people in America. Are there enough volunteers who have the time, resources, skills and motivation to separate themselves from the responsibilities they should be exercising with their own children to make sure an at-risk child does his homework and receives love and nurture? Can a volunteer convince a young girl she is valuable so she won't confuse love with sex and bear children out of wedlock or have an abortion? Will cleaning graffiti from walls in a. photo opportunity mean that graffiti will never return? Only if the graffiti of life is removed from a heart. Instead of this summit on volunteerism, it would have been better to have a summit on liberalism and secularism, the twin evils that have brought forth upon this continent conditions that all of the volunteers in the world cannot reverse. The list of horrors is long and getting longer. More than a million people are incarcerated. Streets are unsafe and entire neighborhoods unlivable because of crime and the fear of crime. Social, psychological, physical and spiritual diseases from the consequences of sexual permissiveness and hedonistic living stalk the nation. "The Divorce Culture," as Barbara Dafoe Whitehead calls it in her new book, is devastating young lives unto the third and fourth generation. Materialism has convinced us that only things can make us happy, although their acquisition doesn't seem to produce contentment for many. King Solomon had it right three millennia ago, when he said: "...so I hated life because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. ... I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me." Better than a call for "volunteers" to improve the reading skills of children would be the type of call issued by another president in the face of the Great Depression and a coming World War. In a radio address to the nation on Feb. 23, 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt said: "No greater thing could come to our land today than a revival of the spirit of religion — a revival that would sweep through the homes of the nation and stir the hearts of men and women of all faiths to a reassertion of their belief in God and their dedication to His will for themselves and for their world. I doubt if there is any problem — social, political or economic — that would not melt away before "the fire of such a spiritual awakening." '.. 1 Today is our National Day of Prayer. Perhaps directing our requests for that "spiritual awakening" about which Roosevelt spoke might produce more powerful arid longer-lasting results than President Clinton's secular summit. Amniocentesis destroys precious souls Science should not be used to snuff out the precious lives of Down syndrome children I t's that time of year when nearly everyone eagerly and generously signs up either to walk in the March of Dimes' annual Walk America fund-raiser or to sponsor someone else to do so. I used to do the walk myself, never imagining that those dollars I worked so hard to raise were going to anything other * than a totally good cause. Now I know otherwise. For as Suzanne Rini documents in her book "Beyond Abortion: A Chronicle of Fetal Experimentation," the March of Dimes has been one of the largest research funders and public promoters of amniocentesis, the prenatal test that is used to detect if an unborn child has Down syndrome, so it can be aborted. Indeed, live births of Down syndrome babies have plummeted because of this practice. Ironically, amniocentesis has only a 90 percent accuracy rate, meaning that 10 percent of the babies aborted because they were thought to have Down syndrome turn out to have been perfectly normal babies. Not to mention that even Down syndrome kids almost always are happy people, go the school, have friends, read and write, and grow up to hold useful jobs. It's tragic that some couples feel incapable of loving and raising a handicapped child, even their own. Unfortunately, our society often KATHY COLLMER for the Salina Journal puts pressure on a couple to kill their own child rather than bring someone handicapped into the world. Take, for example, a "cost-benefit analysis" done by Columbia Business School researcher Nachum Sicherman that concluded; "There is nothing more beneficial than amniocentesis, if it is given under the assumption that if Down syndrome is discovered, there is an abortion following. It's a great cost saving." If those words send a chill up your spine, it may be because Adolf Hitler used the very same line of reasoning to get rid of people he considered "unfit to live." Hitler actually began his mass exterminations not with Jews but with handicapped people. According to German records uncovered during the Nuremberg trails, some 275,000 retarded, physically handicapped and mentally ill people were put to death in the "medical" killing centers that preceded the concentration camps. The only difference between Hitler's policy toward the retarded and our own current practice is that he killed them after birth and we are killing them before. Part of the reason the American public now accepts amniocentesis and other prenatal "search-and-destroy" procedures is that "respectable" institutions such as the March of Dimes have been promoting them. That doesn't make them any less wrong. If you believe a loving Creator has given every life a unique purpose, the evil of aborting "defective" children should be obvious. If you believe that human evolution is shaped solely by impersonal forces, consider this: If Down syndrome — a relatively common abnormality that has been around as long as human beings have — were a completely bad thing, wouldn't it have disappeared from the gene pool by now (through survival of the fittest)? Yet it hasn't. Evidently, Nature knows something we don't. In many cultures the mentally handicapped are valued members of society and have important roles in it. It's plain to see that the fault lies not with retarded people, but with the way we have structured our particular society. I can say from personal experience that Down syndrome is almost never the awful fate many people think it is. During the same teenage years when I was innocently walking all those miles for the March of Dimes, I was also a volunteer with a group called Teens Aid the Retarded. We had a weekly Saturday-morning recreation program for mentally retarded youngsters aged 4 to 14. In the three years I was with the program, I think I learned a thing or two about Down syndrome. Those kids were some of the most affectionate people I've ever known. And while I don't have any illusions about Down syndrome kids being all sweetness and light, for they had their share of grumpy moods just like all the rest of us, I can tell you this: A typical Down syndrome child knows a lot more about the kingdom of God than I do. I say that because I am finally beginning to learn — although I do a sorry job of living it out — that the kingdom of God is about other people. It's not about myself, my interests, my security, or even my own concept of the kingdom of God! It's about other people. It takes some of us many years to learn something that Down syndrome people are born knowing and never lose sight of. Let's not allow the March of Dimes or anyone else to rob us of these precious souls. • Kathy Collmer lives and writes on a farm near Minneapolis. III IESBURY By G.B. TRUDEAU

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