The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 2, 1985 · Page 4
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 4

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Salina, Kansas
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Tuesday, April 2, 1985
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Page 4
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Opinion The Salina Journal Tuesday, April 2,1985 Page 4 T 1 '! <§©I18iM] T 1 1 he Journal Founded In 1871 FRED VANDEGRIFT, President and Publisher HARRIS RAYL, Editor KAY BERENSON, Executive Editor SCOTT SEIRER, News Editor LARRY MATHEWS, Assistant News Editor LORI BRACK, Weekend Editor JIMHAAG, Night Editor Arms and the PAC PACS are just another name for political payola. More evidence of that is the news that the nation's defense firms have doubled their political contributions, made primarily through political action committees, since Reagan took office. As Reagan has lobbied for his $1.8 trillion arms buildup, the top 20 defense firms have poured money into friendly campaign chests — $3.6 million into 1984 congressional and presidential campaigns. The defense firms and some of those receiving the contributions would have citizens believe that PAC money has no effect on the recipient's willingness to OK bigger defense budgets. It's pure coincidence, they suggest, that government contracts to the generous firms climbed almost 150 percent during the same period. Those who believe that malarky should stay away from salesmen peddling the Brooklyn Bridge or nice little ranchettes in the Everglades. Money buys influence — for defense contractors, doctors, teachers, lawyers, real estate brokers. Name a group and there's a PAC to make sure the federal budget doesn't get cut at the expense of PAC members. And it's likely to get worse before it gets better. The Supreme Court ruling a few weeks ago removed the already flimsy and unworkable restrictions on how much money a PAC could give to a presidential candidate. That makes it open season on influence buying and selling. A bad sign for the federal budget. Crime reminder Dumping a 55-gallon drum on a county road may sound more like common practice than something that should be designated the Crime of the Week. But the Salina Crimestoppers program, which offers rewards for information that helps solve a crime, this week focused on the dumping. The barrel in question was not ordinary. It contained a chemical pesticide. If the criminal who dumped the barrel is found, he or she will probably face a relatively small fine for the misdemeanor. The penalty for dumping such materials, Sheriff Darrell Wilson says, is probably not as severe as it should be. Wilson is right. The dumping of pesticides and other potentially harmful materials must be stopped. The first step is public awareness. For too long, too many companies and individuals have been too casual about disposing of unwanted chemicals. The Crime of the Week reminds us such dumping is illegal. It must stop. Mankind was meant to marvel Thoughts for Holy Week: "Star children, lost in the galaxies, Born of wind and fire and water, Adrift in the oceans of forever, Singing anew the hidden harmonies. From the beginning of our time We have looked beyond. In stone, In pyramid, shrine and temple, In soaring cathedrals we have stretched Toward eternity. Celestial universe without end! Our eyes grow dim, our thoughts stagger; Eon plus eon, light mile plus light mile, Wu know no beginning, and no end, and Above all we marvel at the question: What is it all in?" Our astronomers say they now have evidence of another solar system. In their terms, it is a young system, only now forming planets around the star Vega, which is nearly four billion years younger than our Sun. Vega is 27 light years away, close enough to give astronomers the chance to watch in the years ahead just how this star will evolve its planets and system. To these scientists, it is an infant bit of Creation, all over again. What part will chance play? How will the elements come together to make planets? It is a cosmic spring, a symbol of renewal. Mysterious, like the birth cf a child. Wondrous, like the story of Easter. Whether we believe all this evolves in the mind of God, or believe that chance and ne- r. gessity govern this vast, limitless universe, ;'. we now must look to the sky at night with * ; the realization that the story is far from i/.bver, that something special is happening I;; but there. With what arrogance we on this little Let them know... Stuart Awbrey HARRIS NEWS SERVO SEN. BOB DOLE, SH141 Hart Building, Washington, D.C. 20510. Phone: 202-224-6521. SEN. NANCY KASSEBAUM, 302 Russell Building, Washington, D.C. 20510. Phone: 202-224-4774. REP. PAT ROBERTS, 1519 Longworth Building, Washington. D.C. 20515. Phone: 202-225-2715. REP. JIM SLATTERY, 1729 Longworth Building, Washington, D.C. 20515. Phone: 202-2254601. REP. BOB WHrTTAKER, 332 Cannon Building, Washington, D.C. 20515. Phone: 202-225-3911. REP. DAN GLJCKMAN, 2435 Rayburn Building, Washington, D.C. 20515. Phone: 202-225-6216. REP. JAN MEYERS, 1407 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C., 20515. Phone: 202-225-2865. Utilities face dilemma: to build or not to build speck of dust called Earth talk of "Star Wars"! (I note that the President says he is dismayed by this description of his latest fantasy. I also note that he adds, "The Force is with us.") We have made tentative stabs within our tiny solar system. We are far from the stars. No one can have a soul so dead that he has not gazed outward in awe and felt the harmony of the spheres! The primitives did, and retreated to their caves to scratch symbols of sun and fire and water, or arranged great stone slabs to mark the progress of the stars. The ancients did, and developed sophisticated charts. We are more preoccupied than ever today, shooting probes into our own sky and dreaming of the day we can stretch beyond into the stars themselves. Even the least imaginative of us are moved by the hundred million points of light beaming'to us from the Milky Way. Some find a frightening silence in the infinite. Some learn a moral law, others a physical law. Some seek the love that is reputed to "move sun and other stars. And now, thanks to Vega, we can study how part of these limitless tracts began and how they maintain cosmic order. It is an Easter sort of story, one that we don't really comprehend and must take on faith. This Easter, it gives us a strange contrast, galaxies stretching like sands across the sky and across skies beyond the one we know, while in a dust speck of one galaxy man works his own destiny toward destruction of his part of the universe. We are threatened. The Greek dream, the Hebrew dream, the Moslem dream, the Christian dream now seem powerless before the forces of history. We talk survival. We practice global ruin. I don't believe that's what we were made for, what this painstaking process of creation is all about, eon after eon putting together a solar system, centuries after centuries evolving life, even Man himself. I believe we were meant to marvel at the universe, to grow as men and not as the most bestial of animals, to embrace our fellows regardless of their color and beliefs, to return good for evil. Praise and joy to this miraculous greatness stretching beyond our heavens! Grant us the wisdom to walk in new worlds, to embrace and love the one we now have! BOCA RATON, Fla. - Public utility executives from 13 Southeastern states, seeking a little sunshine, recently assembled here. Their principal guest speaker was Louisiana's Sen. Bennett Johnston. He rained all over them. Johnston is the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate's Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. When it comes to the production of electric power, he is probably the most knowledgeable member of the Senate. When Johnston speaks, everybody listens. He told the executives he recently had made a study of prospective electric power rates in his own states. Over the next five years, he said, rates for residential consumers in Louisiana will go up by 50 percent to 80 percent. By 1990 these rates will be four times what they were in 1975. "I believe the trend holds true nationwide." Increases of that magnitude, he predicted, would set off a "political firestorm." Utilities will be operating in an atmosphere of almost total hostility, from industry, from consumers, from regulatory agencies, from a critical press. Why the gloomy forecast? Johnston recalled the happy days when life was reasonably predictable for utility executives. The rule was that demand for electric power would increase by a factor of 8 percent a year — and year after year these projections were on the nose. In those days a utility president could predict not only his demand but also the cost of capital, the cost and time of construction, and the prospec- James Kilpatrick UNIVERSAL PRESS tive rate of return on investment. Nothing is so easily predictable now. Most projections of demand now range between growth rates of 3.5 percent to 4.8 percent a year. The utility that relies upon the old 8 percent factor is steering a risky course. At these lower levels of expectation, by the year 2000 the United States will need between 300 and 400 new 1,000-megawatt plants that have not yet been planned. What will these new plants cost? It depends upon the cost of capital, the rate of inflation and the uncertainties of construction. None of these factors can be surely predicted. Utilities face a dilemma: to build or not to build. If companies take a course that is too prudent, they may be risking rotating blackouts; homes and factories might find their power on for two hours and off for two hours. The companies would properly be accused of preventing economic growth in their service areas. But if companies overbuild, at the skyrocketing cost of plant construction, they risk "varying degrees of disaster — bankruptcy, dilution of stockholders' equity, and triple-B bond ratings." The prospect, in brief, is for a "political revolution of a kind, quality and intensity that has never .been known in this country." Most of our people could tighten their budgets for food and clothing; they could do without certain expenses for entertainment and transportation, but they cannot do without power. Said Johnston dryly: "We've gotten used to the electric light." If power is not available, or if power is available only at what is regarded as exorbitant cost, the public will be howling. The senator had a few suggestions. The howling will not be quite so loud, he said, if the utilities launch an intensive effort to educate the public in the costs of building new plants. More utilities should switch to gas-fired plants. New technology offers hope for clean coal-burning plants that will not contribute to acid rain. Johnston still is sold on nuclear energy, even though 108 projected nuclear plants have been canceled and no new ones have been ordered since 1978. The problem, he said, lies in the "highly legalistic, confrontation-prone, adversarial, paper-chasing, lawyer's delight" of a nuclear licensing proceeding. Europe and Japan build nuclear plants in six years; here it takes 12. We have to do better or we will have to forget the nukes entirely. Outside the hall where Johnston spoke, the sun was shining, the water was sparkling and a nice breeze was weaving through the palms. Enjoy life while you can, the senator seemed to be saying, for the utilities are approaching a winter that will be 15 years long. It's about time we pitched 'at this point in time' Some notes on the English language: • — In 1850 fewer than half of all the people in the United States could read or write any language. • The 10 ugliest words in the English language were once listed by the National Association of Teachers of Speech as: gripe, plump, plutocrat, crunch, phlegmatic, flatulent, cacophony, treachery, sap and jazz. You can tell this list is 20 years old because the word "sap," as slang for a dumb, ineffectual person, is hardly ever used anymore and the word "plutocrat" is almost dead. I'd argue about other words on the list. I agree about "flatulent" but "jazz" isn't an ugly word. It's a wonderfully descriptive, almost onomatopoeic word. If I were making a list of ugly words, I'd certainly put "cuspidor" on it, not to mention "flaccid." • The 10 most beautiful words, according to Wilfred Funk, the dictionary-writer, are: dawn, hush, mist, murmuring, lullaby, tranquil, luminous, chimes, golden and melody. I don't mind those words but most of them are soft and mushy. I prefer stronger words like "redundant" or "preposterous."' They have a ring to them. • When I write the name of our country, I write "The United States." An editor always makes it "the United States." Capital "T"-h-e is part of the formal name of our country. I spell country with a capital C, too. I also refer to "the President." I capitalize the "P" when I'm referring to Ronald Andy Rooney CHICAGO TRIBUNE-NEW YORK NEWS Reagan. Editors always cut my "C" down to a "c" and sometimes lowercase my capital "P." I've never understood why. • Words go in and out of style. I remember 20 years ago there was a big run on the word "charisma." For a while you couldn't read a newspaper without running into the word "unilateral" several times. About five years ago the word "perception" became popular and is still being overused. The current language fad is the ubiquitous "s." People are making everything plural. No one has "skill" anymore. He or she has "skills" or "talents." • A Manual of Style by the Chicago University Press recommends capitalizing celestial objects unless some generic word is part of the name. They capitalize both words in "Milky Way" but only the first in "Halley's comet." I think a comet has just as much right to be capitalized as a Way. How come we don't capitalize the sun and the earth? • There is an increasing tendency in newspapers to start sentences with "But." From my memory of the definition of a sentence as a free-standing idea, it's weak and wrong. • No matter what any of the grammar books or English teachers say, punctuation is an arbitrary matter. It should be used to make sentences clear. Rules about punctuation don't help much. Most writers are using fewer commas than they used to and almost no colons or semi-colons. You can go too far cutting down on punctuation. Short paragraphs give more eye-catching indentations to a page, and commas, dots, dashes, colons and semicolons decorate and lighten a page of print. They call attention to what might otherwise look like a block of concrete. : • Some phrases I'd retire from the language for a while are: At this point in time, ballpark figure, bottom line, between a rock and a hard place, double-digit inflation, meaningful dialogue, value judgment, that's your opinion, world-class, what can I tell you, and no problem. • People aren't using as many funny words meaning "drunk" as they once did. It's probably because being drunk doesn't seem as funny anymore. I recall, jusj offhand: smashed, soused (one of the first I remember), boiled, tippy, looped, pickled, sloshed, in his cups, stoned (this has been adopted by drug-users), plastered, bombed. I can't think of any word that has acquired more synonyms than drunk. • Doonesbury 50A6RJBU5I- AKEWJK1PPIN6? NE95HA5KEN UNUKEOURMRM GOOP TO yOU, BEUCOU5IN5, EH. ZEKE. ? CAUFOKNIA FAFM- Ef$ HAVE BE&1 OUTWKT, KB GO OUR OWN MAY, MAN. WE- FIGURED OUT A tCNG TIME. AGO THAI YOU CANT BUILD A ZEAlLYPKOFITABie OPERATION AKOUNPU5OA HAHD-OUTS! TOSAVBOUR.WAYOFUFe,MAN,Wf1> LEAVE USAiONE. IPOtfTN££P THE F&S TO COMB INANP TELL ME 'ANPUHEKETO PIANTUHATCROP! UH-HUH. OFCOUKS6., W6KW MARIJUANA. \ SO? THAT'S A WAY OF

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