Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 18, 1976 · Page 59
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July 18, 1976

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 59

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Charleston, West Virginia
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Sunday, July 18, 1976
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GAZETTE-MAIL Editorial Why Shun Disclosure Bills? Congressional credibility is at an all-time low, but two bills pending in Congress could do much to restore the people's confidence in their lawmak- ers. The trouble is the bills, pending more than two years, remain bottled up in Chairman Peter Rodino's House Judiciary Committee. One bill provides for financial disclosure by congressmen. The second bill .radically reforms lobbying activities. It was passed on June 15 by the Senate, 82-9. Dumb Bigots Just Aren't Needed The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. George S. Brown of the Air Force, has done it again. Two years ago, as an ordinary four star general, Brown at Duke University demonstrated his anti-Semitism by spouting foolishness about excessive Jewish ownership of banks and newspapers. Such statistics invariably are false and prove nothing, but, for the sake of argument, supposing Jews owned every bank and newspaper in the United States, since when in a free society is it against the law for any citizen to own such properties? More recently Brown has done it again, and, incredibly, at his reconfirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. A senator asked Brown if he thought the American Jewish community had "undue influence" in the affairs of this society -- another charge Brown had voiced earlier at Duke. Brown answered the question -- one must admire his candor, if not his stupidity -- that yes, he did believe the Jewish community exerted '-'undue influence" in this society and exerted it on the Congress. Someone -- alas, it can't be anybody in the military because no one ranks higher -- ought to take Brown aside and instruct him in what a free society is all about. In a free society the governed have every right to importune their governors. That raises the question: What constitutes undue influence? Brown has never told us, and, we suspect, he doesn't know, which suggests to us that not only is Brown a bigot but a dumb bigot. American presidents, we would argue, have no business appointing, dumb bigots to head the nation's military forces, and, when they do, the Senate should exercise its constitu- . tional right to reject such an appointment. Ideally, heads of public organizations oughtn't to be infected with the virus of racial or religious bias, but, if they are, at least they ought to have enough sense not to run around infecting others, lest they harm the organization they are duty bound to lead and to serve. The military will survive Brown's illness, but it really shouldn't be asked to. "They laughed When I Sat down To play' Fanny Seller: Affairs of State Tax Advantage Questionable While Charleston Blue Cross is defending its administrative costs, it might want to explain to the. consumer public and its subscribers why its efficiency isn't better since it has a tax-free advantage over commercial insurance carriers. As a nonprofit corporation, Blue Cross is exempted from paying the premium tax which commercial companies have to pay. If Blue Cross paid this premium tax on its approximately $35 million a year premium, that would cost the insurance carrier $1,000050,00 annually. But since it doesn't pay the tax. Blue Cross, in effect, has that $1 million in the clear. That's almost enough to pay its administrative costs. Blue Cross' administrative costs are running about $1.6 million. EVEN THOUGH "filue Cross has that tax-free advantage, the commercial lines--which traditionally grumbled privately about the unfair advantage the · Blues had--are being able to compete with Blue Cross for group plans. When the West Virginia Public Em- ployes Insurance Board withdrew from Blue Cross because it socked the board an additional $300,000 a year to run its group health plan, competitive bids were received on a self-insurance plan. The end result was that Blue Cross was the highest costing outfit, and the other lower bidders were commercial tax-paying companies. Under the new plan, all the successful commercial insurance company does for the board is process claims. * COMMERCIAL COMPANIES not only have to pay the premium tax, they pay their agents commissions, and the agents pay the state business and occupation tax iffthey're independent from the home office. (Agents who have any employe relationship with a company don't pay B 0 taxesj ?i Commercial firms apparently have become efficient enough to meet all those expenses which the Blues don't have and still successfully bid on group plans right, along with Blue Cross. In addition, an individual who's knowledgeable about Charleston Blue Cross' internal operation, called last week to suggest places to look for excess administrative costs: Besides, the Wheeling Blue Cross plan has a premium volume about the same as Charleston's and its administrative costs are about $754,500 a year. All of this adds up to concern on the part of cost-conscious people. Insurance Commissioner Donald Brown is one of them and his staff is making an audit to see if there can be some cost cutting. ^ SHORTS-Science and Culture Center Director Norman Fagan gave Senate President Wiliam Brotherton Jr., D-Kanawha, a tour of the center before it officially opened to the public.. .$lAgrici ture Commissioner Gus Douglass said he's for Sen. Robert Byrd D-W.Va., for Senate majority leader and didn't hear anything to the contrary when the Jimmy Carter camp called him to come to New York during the Democratic National Convention. Douglass' expenses, incidentally, were picked up by Carter's people . . . A lot of people are wondering how Gus Douglass got to know Jimmy Carter well enough to be appointed his regional campaign coordinator for rural affairs over 15 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Besides his presidency last year of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, Douglass just finished a term as president of the Future Farmers Alumni, and has worked with the Council of State Government. He also was president of southern agriculture commissioners, and, through his involvement in these groups, got to know (ftrter. Doug- lass has more respect among his countrymen nationally than locally at times, and last year his office almost succeeded in getting President Ford to speak at the National Association of State Departments' convention in Charleston. But the story goes that Gov. Moore didn't want the Republican party playing seconds to the association's convention, so Ford's trip to Charleston was for the GOP fund raising d i n n e r . . . Jay Rockefeller's poll showed him substantially ahead of Cecil Underwood. It also showed Jimmy Carter with about 56 per cent in the popularity contest, with President Ford and Ronald Reagan in the 35 to 38 per cent range. Ford was about three to four points ahead of Reagan. In addition, it tested Gov. Moore's'popularity against Sen. Robert Byrd, and Byrd overwhelmed the Governor. Moore was reasonably strong in the Northern part of the state but not as strong as he once was, and in other areas he'd slipped considerably . . . Democratic State Chairman J.C. Dillon has a good bit of strength in the Democratic National Committee... Gene Hoyer, new national committee member, said Jimmy Carter spoke to the committee when it met Friday in New York after the national convention. Hoyer found a lot of unity in the Democrat party in New York- WELFARE COMMISSIONER Tom Tinder says a group of welfare officials visiting here from other states in West Virginia's region were amazed at the Welfare Department's computer advancement... Workmen's Compensation Commissioner Rick Becker is attending two weeks of National Guard training . . . Walter Ferguson, Gov. Moore's messenger, and messenger to a half dozen governors before Moore, is getting married next month to Elizabeth Howard, an employe in the office of treasurer Ronald Pearson. Fergu- (PleMeT«rnt0Pa|«4E) Both measures are championed by Common Cause, and this citizens lobbying group is exerting maximum pressure to pry them out of Rodino's committee prior to Labor Day. If they're not before the full House by then, chance of passage is slender. The lobby reform legislation, as endorsed in the Senate, redefines the term lobbyist, compels reporting of all significant gifts to members of Congress, calls for an accounting for the first time of certain lobbying activities in the executive, and hands enforcement of the act to the Comptroller General and Justice Department. Although more than 160 members of the House have joined in cosponsoring both disclosure bills, only a single representative from West Virginia has associated his name with each reform: Rep. Ken Hechler. If dollar values were assigned to the lovely perks and other benefits congressmen have voted themselves and then added to the amount of a congressman's annual salary, the total would exceed $70,000. In excess of $70,000 is what a congressman's seat is worth to its occupant. For that much money why shouldn't John Slack, Harley Staggers, and Robert Mollohan put their names beside legislation designed to make Congress more responsible to the people? Who foots a congressman's fancy salary and fringes? Who pays for the style of living to which most congressmen, it is safe to say, become so quickly and smilingly adjusted? Were he not slopping at the public trough, could Slack, an ex-assessor, could Staggers, an ex-sheriff, could Mollohan, an ex-reform school superintendent, on his own earn better than $70,000 a year? Endure on Merits There are nearly 4,000 flapdoodle experts sprinkled throughout the federal government, and they cost American taxpayers almost $93 million each year. We are indebted to The Washington Monthly's Tidbits and Outrages column for the foregoing information, put together by the General Accounting Office: Number of Agent Flapdoodlers Cost Defense 1,486 $24,508,000 HEW 338 21,000,000 Agriculture 650 11,467,300 Treasury 202 5,798,235 Congress 446 5,663,174 Commerce 164 5,683,609 Energy Research andDev't Admin 128 5,236,800 NASA 208 4,500,000 Transportation 117 2,913,509 HUD 69 2,455,000 WhiteHouse 85 2,300,000 Veterans Admin 47 1,313,300 Totals 3,990 $92,838,927 Flapdoodlers, it is safe to say, are expensive, but they also are expendable. If every one of the 3,990 flapdoodlers. cited above were dismissed and required to earn an honest living, this government of the people, by the people and for the people not only wouldn't.suffer but would benefit from the consequent savings of nearly $93 million. Government should endure on the strength of its own merits not on the puffery of press agents. Avoid Sleeping Pills Americans who have trouble sleeping and who try to overcome the problem by taking a sleeping pill should consider this statement from William C. Dement, the director of the Stanford University Sleep Disorders Laboratory: "The most prevalent cause of insomnia is sleeping pills."-. A sleeping pill may increase sleep at first, but Dement's studies reveal that sleeping pills lose their power in about two weeks. "If use continues," Dement says, "the person becomes a drug addict; the pill then causes .the insomnia it is supposed to cure." Persons taking sleeping pills develop very quickly a tolerance for them and begin sleeping less. Once a person is hooked on sleeping pills, the only effective treatment, says Dement, is gradual withdrawal from the dosage under a physician's care. Doctors should prescribe sleeping pills for no more than 20 nights, 30 being the absolute maximum. After that length of time, if patients still have sleeping problems, the sleeping pills they were taking, Detent points out, undoubtedly weren't the solution to their problem in the first place. Insomniacs instead of swallowing sleeping pills--as for nonprescription sleeping aids, forget them, they're a total waste of money--should try these remedies: follow a regular routine every night; exercise daily; no heavy eating beyond 7 p.m.; and a glass of warm milk in place of any alcohol or other type of drugs. If this therapeutic schedule doesn't do the trick, experts counsel, then take that television set out of your bedroom. But above all avoid sleeping pills. Jenkin L. Jones Jungle Law Intolerable , (c) Los Angeles Times You could make a case, perhaps, that the three Israeli planes that swooped down upon the Entebbe Airport on the evening of July 3, released 102 hostages and shot up the kidnapers and Ugandan troops had committed a new Pearl Harbor. After all, as U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim piously pointed out, Uganda is a sovereign nation. No war had been declared. And the attack occurred while negitiations were theoretically still going on. But you could make a much better case that it was, if effect, a rerun of that night in February, 1804, when young Stephen Decatur and his intrepid crew invaded the harbor of Tripoli, burned the captured frigate, Philadelphia, and thus began a series of naval actions that finally broke the back of Barbary piracy. THERE COMES a time when civilization can no longer tolerate jungle law, and jungle law has been tolerated too long already. . The Israeli attack was staged less than 12 hours before the outlaws had threatened to blow up all their innocent victims. But much more evil than anything which the old Barbary pirates had ever dreamed up was the price put on the victims' lives. For here was no straightforward cash ransom, which was all the old-time pirates wanted. The demand, instead, was the release of 53 terrorists now held in Israeli and European jails. How could the game be plainer? Kidnap- ing and murder must be operated with impunity. If the perpetrators are caught new victims will be seized and held under threat of death until the perpetrators are released. This is not war, which is a process of killing that recognizes retaliation. This is an attempt to establish a process of killing that paralyzes retaliation. THE ULTIMATE AIM of terrorists is often couched in the noblest terms. Their sincerity is often unquestioned. But their weapon is a two-edged sword. When the rules of civilization are junked, supposedly for good ends, terror can return to haunt terrorists themselves. When, at the birth of Israel, enthusiastic Zionists applauded the blowing up of the King David Hotel and the murder of U.N. mediator Count Folke Bernadotte they opened Pandora's box. For they were applauding an inhumanity that eventually resulted in the murder of the Israeli athletes Sunday Gazette Mail Vol. 21, No. 3 Charleston, Wett Virginia July It, 1I7(. Page 2E A at the Munich Olympic Games and the insane slaughter of passengers in the Tel Aviv airport. And President Ida "Big Daddy" Amin of Uganda, having looted and expelled the East Indians and indulged in tribal genocide, is in poor position to cry out against the violation of his territory by Israeli commandos. INTERNATIONAL LAW of course, is unwritten. But its invention speeded man's painful progress out "of the Dark Ages. Respect for ambassadors permitted negotiations between nations. Rights of the high seas stimulated commerce. Extradition agreements dampened crime. Protection for foreign visitors breathed life into tourism. All this is now decaying. Embassies are wrecked, ambassadors murdered. Piracy now haunts airborne shipping, and the Libyan ports are back in business again as .pirate havens. Tourists now fear and shun many weak but interesting nations that desperately need that patronage. Nothing has been a greater disappointment in the past quarter-century than the United Nations, It was supposed to supplant the old strong-arm order of the im- peralist powers with a rule of decency in which all nations might participate. Now its General Assembly, firmly controlled by the poor, the ignorant and the irresponsible, expels Taiwan which has violated none of its tenets, cheers the arrival of the People's Republic of China which has violated them all and invites Big Daddy himself to mount its podium, wearing a pistol. The jungle won't last. It can't. If the world is not to stagnate, someone must go in after the pirates, just as Decatur did, just as the Israelis did. Gunboat diplomacy is preferable to the deadly blackmail of berserks with Tommy guns. Letters to the Editor Reporting Poor Editor: On June 10, 13 senators called a press conference in the Capitol and expressed dissatisfaction with the tax reform bill as it was reported by the Senate Finance Committee. They outlined their plans for amending it when floor debate began. The room was crowded with journalists, and the next day a brief story appeared in the nation's papers, anywhere from page 3 to page 60, mostly in the financial section. The broadcast media gave it similar coverage. The Senate began debate on schedule, and in the face of intense corporate pressure, yielded billions of dollars back to corporate treasuries in the form of special tax benefits. This Bicentennial ripoff was again relegated to the back pages by our print journalists and hardly noted by our broadcast journalists. The public, during this billion-dollar giveaway, was being whipped into a frenzy over the sex habits of a few members of Congress. An alleged $14,000-a-year mistress was being touted and made famous by the press, while several billions of dollars were being stripped from the treasury with hardly more than a footnote. Why? Is the press so fascinated with sex that they ignore robbery? There was no public outrage over this Million-dollar giveaway because the public was not informed as to what was going on here. The Senators in the majority received few angry letters on their votes against tax reform, but hundreds or thousands on Congressional moral habits. There is public pressure aplenty for Congress to clean up its petty cash box, but hardly a whisper on asking us to replenish the public treasury. On the issue of tax reform, the media have failed the American people. Where are the financial Bob Woodward's and Carl Bernstein's? Where is the righteous indignation of the editorial writers and columnist when it isn't being focused on the human weaknesses of one or two, or even a half dozen, members of Congress? Where are the feature stories on DISC'S and LAL's, and the impact they have on the American pocketbook? On the last day of June the Senate voted 72 to 16 against repeal of DISC'S, despite the fact that most reputable economists say they are almost completely worthless as incentives. That vote cost every citizen of the United States about 15 in tax subsidies, most of which goes to the richest corporations in America. The press demands to be left alone, and to be free to do their job; yet, where were they when this story needed to be told? If it is the responsibility of the press to guard against private immoralities by constant, well-placed stories and com, ments, is it not also their responsibility to do the same on matters concerning public money? It is my opinion that they do. The Supreme Court ruling recently recognized the special role the press plays in our system of government. The press is accorded free access to the goings-on of our government, and at the same time is given free opportunity to exercise its judgment on what will be covered, what will be said, and how much exposure to give each issue. PleiKTjntoPife4E) * 1 £

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