The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 16, 1997 · Page 12
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 12

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Friday, May 16, 1997
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B2 FRIDAY, MAY 16, 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: SJLettersO saljournal.com Quote of the day "Poyekhali!" Charles Precourt commander of the space shuttle ,. Atlantis, uttering the Russian word ;- for "we're on our way" as the shuttle blasted off Thursday morning to bring supplies and repair equipment to Russia's Mir • ' space station. OPINION By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal A girl's best friend THEIISW Jlie law and dirty dancing THE ARGUMENT Dancers should be protected, not arrested I n a civilized culture, the primary duty of any law enforcement officer who found himself in an establishment that offers erotic dancing would be to protect the dancers. It can be a rough business. Customers who get too grabby. Bar owners who take too much of the money the women earn. People who demand what the women have to offer and then scorn the women who offer it. But, alas, we don't live in a civilized culture. We live in late 20th century America, a society obsessed with other people's sex lives. That's why, early in February, a Saline County Sheriffs reserve deputy was sitting on a metal folding chair in a dark corner of a broken-down bar at the edge of Salina, daring a 19-year-old woman he did not know to rub her naked breasts on his face. He claims she did so, and that, among other things, was why he had her arrested. She claims she didn't, and that, if anything, it was the undercover officer who was breaking the rules by putting his hands in the wrong place. The dancer was charged, ludicrously, with prostitution. She had to endure months of public humiliation, the trauma of a trial and the cost of a lawyer. But Wednesday, a Saline County jury did what juries are supposed to do. It brought some common sense to bear on the matter. The young woman was acquitted. And she was allowed to go home with the cash she had honestly earned dancing topless that night, before the blue-nosed sheriffs office descended on her. Enlightened law enforcement agencies learn the standards and practices of the various cultures in which they move, whether those of class, ethnic group or profession. The culture of the gentleman's club, topless bar, sleazy dive, whatever, has its own rules. Most of them are meant to protect the dancers from overly possessive customers, from people who think they can buy a great deal more than three minutes of a beautiful woman's enthusiastic attention for $20. It is those rules, not the misguided denial of our unending demand for countless forms of sexual stimulation, that our law enforcement officers should be enforcing. Those who hold power are rightly judged by looking at who welcomes their approach and who fears it. Outgoing women who will unavoidably, if not always wisely, be offered financial rewards for displaying their charms should be among those who find the presence of the law reassuring, not threatening. Letters to the Journal are welcome, but must be selected and edited for space, clarity and taste. Please be brief, stick to a single subject and include a daytime telephone number for confirmation. LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL SJLetters@saljournal.com T TORY NOTIONS Republicans hide from their own ideas Ruling class sticks to its story that the budget will be balanced — someday W ASHINGTON — Louisiana so believes in balanced budgets, its constitution requires current expenses to be paid out of current revenues. But when, in 1987, this requirement inconvenienced the political class, that class became creative. The legislature created a Louisiana Recovery District empowered to issue $1.3 billion in bonds and impose a 1 cent sales <tax to back the bonds. The state constitution requires voter approval for state debt, local debt and local sales taxes. However, the state's Supreme Court rejected challenges to the Recovery District because the legislature defined the new entity as a "special district and a political subdivision, having boundaries coterminous with the state" but not part of the state and not a local government and therefore not subject to constitutional restraints on taxing and borrowing. This trickery (reported in the book "Balancing Acts: The Reality Behind State Balanced Budget Requirements" by Richard Briffault of Columbia University's law school) should be remembered now that the national political class has said that the budget will be balanced, no kidding, after just two more election cycles. Like the college basketball player who, full of himself and virtue, vowed, "I'm going to graduate on time, no matter how long it takes," a broad majority of the pertinent 537 people (those who are in Washington because they have won elections) says the budget will be balanced by 2002 — details, such as numbers, to come. The majority is broad because both parties surmise that they are served by the agreement reached May 2. It serves Democrats by completing the intellectual disarmament of Republicans. Republicans think it serves them by ... the same thing. It distances Republicans from the conservative ideas they now consider dangerous. May 2 and Nov. 9 should henceforth be feast days on the Democratic Party's calendar. The legacy of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and the capture of the party in 1972 by backers of George McGovern enabled Republicans to stigmatize Democrats for weakness abroad and domestic profligacy. Nov. 9, 1989 — the end of the Berlin Wall and of the sense that foreign policy matters — made the world safe for Democrats. They had lost seven of the preceding 10 and five of the preceding six presidential elections. They won the next two. And on May 2, 1997, Democrats became co-architects of the budget-balancing and tax-cutting agreement, and completed their escape from the Republicans' rhetorical cross fire. Republicans now have as little to say for themselves as they do against Democrats. T CAN SHE SAY THAT? Volunteerism is alive and well in Salina Recently it has become popular to encourage people to "volunteer ism," to lend a hand and make a difference. It seems to me that the people of Salina, Kansas must have gotten ahead of the bandwagon on this subject, as it has been quite evident to me and my husband that volunteerism is alive and well and flourishing in this city in north-central Kansas. Due to major surgery for me, and my husband having had a heart attack, we learned how much the people of Salina really do "make a difference." Especially the employees of Salina Regional Health Center and the congregation of Immanuel Lutheran Church who, through their help, physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually made some very dark days become easier to bear. The get-well wishes and caring of my children by Schilling School and Salina South Middle School made it a little easier for my children to keep up their spirits when things were at their darkest for my husband and me. I know that thank yous are usually relegated to the back page of the Neighbors section of the Salina Journal, but this thank you needs to be printed on the editorial page, as I want everyone who reads your paper 10 know that Salina is a city full of volunteers. P.O. Box 740, Salina, KS 674O2 And I want everyone who was involved in any way in helping my husband and me to know that I thank them from the bottom of my heart for their love and caring. I know that they must practice it every day, because they do it so well. — CHRISTINE BERNDT Salina Corporations owe us nothing The May 8 column by James Talley, who asumes that Chrysler and other mega-corporations are — or should be considered — "collective citizens," is more liberal socialist doctrine. Corporations have responsibilities to their shareholders, employees and customers. They do not have to support some social agenda that you deem important. Who appointed you the social police? If you like Ellen so much, then you advertise your product on her show. You are another typical liberal who is jealous of corporations making money and think they owe you something. You forget they produce products, provide jobs and pay a lot of taxes. If they don't want to advertise on a show, for whatever reason, it is their own business. - RANDY LOHMANN Lincoln lscldijnckcn.com WAatsthat diet called thats supposed to be so unhealthy r JkC PfiETTV 6000 «'6HT 4BOI/T M3U).4j A broad majority of the pertinent 537 people (those who are in Washington because they won elections) says the budget will be balanced by 2002 — details, such as numbers, to come. Granted, government will grow slightly less than it would were Democrats not restrained by Republican preferences. And Democratic collaboration with cuts in estate and capital gains taxes may dampen Democrats' rhetoric of egalitarianism, resentment and envy. However, May 2 marks Republicans, the conservatives, as content with the conservation of the post-Great Society government in all essentials, with defense spending that does not seriously address the military's huge procurement deficit, and with tax cuts of (as Jonathan Rauch notes in National Journal) about 1 percent of revenues over the next five years. Furthermore, May 2 commits Republicans to some complicity with a presidential policy certain to be popular and harmful — up to $35 billion worth of tax credits and deductions for college tuition expenses. This quasi-entitlement, mostly for middle- class parents whose children would matriculate anyway, will aggravate injuries already done to higher education by excessive federal aid to students. As Peter W. Wood, associate provost of Boston University, argues in The Chronicle of Higher Education, the flow of federal aid has fostered the dumbing down of both high schools and colleges. Federal aid to students has made most colleges so hooked on high tuitions and high enrollments that they have, essentially, open admissions. Anyone with a high school diploma can get in, so there is scant pressure on students to exert themselves in high school. There is considerable pressure on colleges to provide remedial classes for those unprepared, and undemanding classes for those barely prepared. (Hence the rapid proliferation of courses with no prerequisites.) If the loans are, as the president wants, conditional on a B average, the result will be worse grade inflation as well as tuition inflation. As Wood says, poorly qualified students are hurt most: "They lose time that could be better spent working or acquiring marketable skills, and they incur unnecessary debt. The more-qualified students simply pay more for a worse education." A Republican Party complicit in such foolishness clearly has concluded that conservatism is weighing it down. Such a party may use the next five years helping to concoct means of evading the balanced budget commitment — say, an American Recovery District, with borders coterminous with the country. • George F. Will, Ph.D., is a columnist for the Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, B.C. 20071. Nanny-state conservatism is taking over We won't let government create a just society, just mess with our lives H ave you noticed that under the influence of free-market theology, government is becoming both less useful and more onerous? That splendid libertarian strand of less government that always stoutly defended the right of motorcyclists to ride without helmets and other forms of going-to-hell-in-whatever-hand- baskets-we-choose is losing out to nanny-state conservatism. If you pair two new books, which at first glance look like an odd couple, I think you will see what the problem is. The first is David Shaw's glorious rant against "The Pleasure Police: How Blue-Nose Busybodies and Lily-Livered Alarmists Are Taking All the Fun Out of Life." America has always been given to puritanical snits — sex, alcohol, tobacco, sex, drugs, pornography, sex, any form of music favored by young people, gambling and sex have always sent moralists into gobbling outrage. Long before irate Baptist preachers denounced Elvis Presley as a creature of Satan, and before rap brought out the heavy artillery of the bluenoses, jazz was condemned as "perverted" and ragtime stigmatized as "degenerate" (Negro influence there, you see). There's a similar fever chart with other forms of sin in America. The other day, House Speaker Newt Gingrich spoke to the National Religious Broadcasters and announced the chief goal of his party: to achieve a drug-free America by Jan. MOLLY IVINS Fort Worth Star-Telegram 1, 2001, following "a national crusade fully as intensive as the effort to balance the budget." To achieve this goal, Gingrich proposes that drug dealers should get mandatory life sentences on first conviction and the death sentence for second convictions. "If you sell it, we are going to kill you," he said. Holy cow. I find this of considerable personal interest because the Texas Legislature is about to criminalize cigarette smoking by teens, and a federal judge in North Carolina ruled last month that nicotine is a drug and can be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. I hate to be pessimistic, but I fear that Shaw, himself a fairly militant anti-cigarette cigar- smoker, is correct in his scenario. "Supplies plummet. Demand soars. A black market quickly develops to fill the void. Prices skyrocket. As with Prohibition, people start making their own illicit cigarettes — growing small tobacco plants in the backyard or on isolated plots of vacant land not likely to be discovered by authorities. ... People get sick — and die — from the toxic bootleg product. ... Kids — and adults — start stealing cigarettes and hijacking shipments of cigarettes. Latter- day Al Capones use modern terrorist tactics to control the illicit tobacco trade. Suddenly, Joe Camel looks pretty benign by comparison." Second on Gingrich's list of new national goals is reducing teen pregnancy — surely a noble goal. But as we have already seen in the case of the 18-year-old who was recently sentenced to a year in prison for getting his girlfriend pregnant, criminalizing teen sex is not our smartest move. The kid was prepared to quit school, get a job and marry the girl, but now he's in the slammer instead. Not a policy that makes a lot of sense. If you wonder why our government has nothing better to do with its time and power than to criminalize smoking and teen sex, take Ill a look at Robert Kuttner's book "Everything for Sale: The Virtues and Limits of Markets." Like Shaw's book, it is a sensible, moderate look at a broad problem with some horrifying specific results. "The ideal of a free, self-regulating market is newly triumphant. The historical lessons of market excess, from the Gilded Age to the Great Depression, have all but dropped from the collective memory. Government stands impeached and impoverished, along with democratic politics itself. Unfettered markets are deemed both the essence of human liberty and the most expedient route to prosperity. "In the United States, the alternative to laissez-faire has never been socialism. Rather, the interventionist party, from Hamilton and Lincoln, through the Progressive Era, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, sponsored what came to be known as a 'mixed economy.' The idea was that market forces could do many things well — but not everything. Government intervened to promote development, to temper the market's distributive extremes, to counteract its unfortunate tendency to boom-and-bust, to remedy its myopic failure to invest too little in public goods, and to invest too much in processes that harmed the human and natural environment." Kuttner's book is pragmatic and readable, offering both an intelligent appreciation of markets and trenchant criticism. Since the ideology of free markets allows government no role in creating a just society, it perforce is left with nothing to do but regulate individual behavior. Hence, the anti-sin crusade. I highly recommend this pair of books. • Molly Ivins is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. You can write to her in care of Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd. Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045, or via e-mail at cre8tors@aol.com. By G.B. TRUDEAU IHANTTO&& OFFTHZVI&H

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