The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa on August 26, 1975 · Page 4
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August 26, 1975

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The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa · Page 4

Des Moines, Iowa
Issue Date:
Tuesday, August 26, 1975
Page 4
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OPINION .f Aug. 26, 1973 DAVID KRUIDENIER, President and Publisher KENNETH MACDONALD, fifitor MICHAEL GAKTNER, -Eeeeutive Editor LAUREN SOTH, Editorial Page Editor .1. ROBERT HUDSON, Director of Marketing LOUIS H. NORRIS. Businm Manager Aft Independent Newfpaper THE REGISTER'S EDITORIALS Russia's grain needs The Soviet Union has asked the United States government for permission to buy 11 million more tons of grain, in addition to the 9.8 million metric tons already purchased this summer. It seems likely that the Soviet Union will buy 25 million tons in the world market this year if the grain is available. This would exceed the 1972 imports of about 21 million tons and would shoot grain prices far above current prices of $4 a bushel for wheat and $3 for corn. It would make little difference in prices whether the Russians got the grain from the U.S. or from other exporting countries. But the U.S. is the only place where that much additional grain is available, which gives Washington a large measure of control over the grain* Russia needs. The Soviets have bought about 5 million tons from Canada and Australia. Clearly, the United States possesses a diplomatic "weapon" in its exportable grain that might be used to get concessions from the Soviets. If the Russians are unable to buy all the grain they want, they may have to liquidate some livestock. There is no probability of a bread shortage. The urgent demand for grain by Moscow is to keep its expensive livestock industry going; heavy investments have been made in pig and cattle enterprises; the Russian people want more meat. If the Russians succeed in importing all the grain they want, food prices will rise in the United States by considerably more than the 1.5 per cent estimated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 1976 (based on the 9.8 million tons exported to Russia) and more than the 2.5 per cent estimated by Federal Reserve Chairman Arthur Burns. Thus the Ford administration must decide whether to sustain Russia's livestock industry at the expense of Ameri- can consumers — and at the expense of more instability in U.S. livestock production. Russian grain output is highly erratic. Severe droughts occur in the vast grain- growing areas about one in every three years, according to Vladimir Matskevitch, the former minister .of agricul- ture-wtanvisited -Iowa 20 years- ago. Also, Soviet agriculture is still sloppy and inefficient, using labor and machinery wastefully, although the Brezh- nev regime has put more investment into agriculture than ever before. One of the problems is lack of storage for grain, fertilizer and othei materials. Investment in good storage capacity would be the best way to reduce the vast swings in grain consumption and cut the cost of imports. Meanwhile, the United States as the residual grain supplier to the world can hardly afford to allow Russia to compensate for its own failures at the expense of U.S. consumers and America's regular customers abroad or the needy in the less developed countries. Whether the Ford administration wants to admit it or not, it is engaging in control of exports — and should. The "comprehensive" export controls mentioned as bad medicine by Burns and opposed by Secretary of Agriculture Butz are not needed. What is needed is a planned program of holding grain reserves in the U.S. to prevent their being sucked out to Russia. This is essential for farmers as well as consumers, to keep a balanced export program and to stabilize livestock production and prices. Detente with the Soviet Union, the other nuclear superpower, is a splendid policy, which we support with enthusiasm. But it ought to be managed with a clear view of America's national interest. Sport licenses for Mesquakies The Department of Interior has brought suit in federal district court charging Iowa with interfering with the treaty rights of Mesquakie Indians by requiring them to have state licenses to hunt and fish on Mesquakie Settlement land near Tama. i; ' The suit is similar to one filed on behalf of the tribe last year by the Native American Rights Fund. The Iowa Conservation Commission's defenses against these actions may carry the day in court. But they are so narrowly legalistic that citizens conscious of this country's trail of broken treaties with Indians may be embarrassed. One of the state's contentions is that no U.S treaty was signed with the Mes- quakies guaranteeing hunting and fishing rights in the area of the Settlement. Treaty mention of hunting and fishing, the argument runs, was limited to lands further east. Another contention is that Settlement property is neither private property nor an Indian reservation. Iowa permits landowners to hunt all game but deer, in season, and fish on their own property without license and issues, free deer licenses on request. 'hough Settlement property was ght with the tribe's money, it has, in T] bought with the tribe's money, it has, in the white man's way of doing things, been maintained in trust for the tribe. This trust was first held by Iowa governors and later transferred to the Department of Interior. In the state's view, a tribe member does not have property rights in the Settlement land. But since it is not federal property reserved for Indian use, it is not, in the state's view, a reservation, either. If it were, the Mesquakies might claim rights under the federal Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, but the state is maintaining that the Settlement is not a reservation. These legalisms seem excessive to us. We believe the state is justified in resisting tribal claims to exemption from state limits on game and fish and regulation of hunting season. But could not the great state of Iowa rise above petty, bureaucratic considerations to grant free hunting and fishing licenses to dwellers on the Mesquakie Settlement, as it does to farmers on their land? Or just not require licenses from them for fishing and hunting there? Fraud on readers Thomas Hauser, a New York lawyer whose correspondence with political figures was passed off as the work of a nine-year-old boy, has defended the deception as "within my rights under the First Amendment." The New York Times and The Des Moines Sunday Register printed the correspondence in the belief that the letters to Senator Edward Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey and others, as well as drawings accompanying the letters, were done by a youngster. Hauser's effort to ring in the First Amendment is as offensive as was his effort to deceive readers. There is no free speech principle involved in the perpetration of fraud. The issue is truth in labeling. When an adult writes a letter and claims it was written by a nine-year-old boy, that is misrepresentation even a nine-year-old can recognize as such. Hauser's action recalls a somewhat similar tactic used by over-zealous supporters of Richard Nixon during the 1972 presidential election campaign. Letters in behalf of Nixon were written by campaign officials and distributed to local Republicans with instructions that they sign their names and send them to newspapers as letters to the editor. Unsuspecting editors printed many of the letters in the belief they were legitimate letters from readers. When a person signs his name to a letter, the reader has a right to assume that person wrote the letter. It is unethical and dishonest to hide the true author's identity. Attorney Hauser and political parties both ought to know better. Approval for generating .plants The Iowa Commerce Commission (ICC) has established a new policy that utility firms should obtain the commission's advance approval for generating stations costing more than $250 million (which nuclear and most fossil-fueled plants do). There is no authority for this in Iowa law, so it is a request. The request is likely to be self-enforcing, because the ICC has authority to approve, modify or disapprove rate increases based on the cost of generating plants. Utility firms probably will submit their plans to avoid difficulties at the subsequent rate-setting sessions. Although the ICC has no power to say "don't do it" or "cut that back to $300 million," the commission can speak persuasively by indicating that it would look with disfavor on rates based on construction beyond what it considers reasonable. If a utility ignored the ICC's advice, it would bear a heavier burden of proof to justify higher rates. In the past, the ICC would be presented with a fait accompli: "Here's the plant. We needed it. It cost so-much and that requires such-and-such a rate." The burden has been more on the commission to disprove the need for the new rate, because a utility is entitled to charge its customers for facilities needed to provide them with adequate service. Enough generating-pldnt proposals (especially nuclear) have gone sour — technologically or economically — to suggest the need for the sort of review the ICC proposes. The input of a disinterested public agency such as the ICC could be helpful to the utility as well as to the public. The public, which pays the bill, has a right to be in on the take-off as well as the crash-landing. . Two dreary pictures of life in capital By DAVID S. BRODER W«ihlntf»n Po»t N«wi $*rvle» „ -^ BEAVER ISLAND, j^^*\' MICH. - Distance, they jT \ say, lends enchantment, C, 3 but not so with the nation's capital. The beach life on this Lake Michigan island' does not make one long for the joys of Washington. And at least two of the books included in a stack of vacation reading incline one to believe the exile from politics should be permanent. The publication of "A City on a Hill," by George V. Higgins, earlier this year was greeted by critics praising it as the definitive Washington novel. It is an ex- HTggins employs his ~un~erTing~gift for recreating the tone and rhythm of politicians' talk to tell the entire story in dialogue. But as a gifted novelist's vision of the reality of post-Watergate Washington, it is grim reading. One reason Higgins can tell this story purely in dialogue, without any narrative passages, is that his Washingtonians do little but talk. The government of consequential decision- making is invisible in his novel. Burnt-out cases They are burnt-out cases, these still- young congressional aides of whom he writes — men who lost their hearts in the Dallas and Los Angeles assassinations and who gave up their energies in the wearying struggles over Vietnam and impeachment. The plot of his book — to the extent -there^s one—^involves the effort of one representative's assistant to revive political interest in a second presidential race by a Democratic senator beaten for the prize in 1972. It is a futile effort — as he knows from the start — and the novel ends with the Democrats as far from success in their search for a new hero as they are in real life today. If their political quest is foredoomed to failure, the personal lives of Higgins's characters are a flight from worse frustrations — a flight that takes the form of an alcoholic ricochet from unhappy marriages to frenetic love affairs. "A City on a Hill" would be easier to dismiss if one had not just finished reading the galley proofs of "The Power Lovers." It is a major nonfiction study of politics and marriage in Washington, written by Myra MacPherson of the Washington Post. Putnam's will publish the book later this year. MacPherson's book is the definitive account of polities' devastating effects on family life. With its wealth of on- the-record, names-named anecdotes and quotations, it seems certain to be as widely read as it is debated. Her thesis is that "exploitation of the family is an integral part of politics." She documents it with countless examples of the almost-desperate efforts of wives and children to come to terms with the psychological stresses of the pursuit of public office. Often, she sees these efforts fail — and the failure is reckoned in broken homes, warped personalities and the same anxious escapism which Higgins's characters pursue. A "viper town" "Washington can be a viper town," MacPherson writes. "There is a numbing coldness about this town — no matter the surface warmth and excitement." Even if that is not the whole truth about Washington, it is certainly an aspect of Washington life, and one which cannot help but further alienate those citizens who come to know it from reading either of these books. A public that already believes that special interests dominate the decision- making in the government is now being told that the people who run that government are mainly moral and emotional cripples, trapped in a game of personal exploitation that is, if anything, more reprehensible than any form of political or economic manipulation. Anyone who lives in Washington knows that there are exceptions to this pattern, as reporter MacPherson makes plain, even if novelist Higgins is not required to do so. But the picture both draw of Washington is a city from which any sane person would recoil. In fact, Higgins's main character does flee Washington at the end of the book to the presumably less degrading circumstances of a Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign. Tuning out Citizens can turn their backs on Washington more easily than Higgins's antihero, simply by tuning out the news of the mock battles being fought there and ignoring the elections Washington considers so important. That is what millions of them have been doing. But journalists do not have the luxury. So I am shaking the beach sand out of these disturbing books and going back to wallow in Washington news and the 1976 campaign. But there's a lot of truth in what one black judge in Higgins's novel says to the emissary from the would-be president-maker: "Tell him ... that what the people really want is to be left alone to make themselves happy in the best way they can. . . . Tell him to go home and tend to his family. ..." , Burger proposes secontMevelcourt on temporary basis By WARREN E. BIJRGER © WS, NiW YorK Tlmw- Increased federal court litigation can be met in large part by adding more judges at all levels except the Supreme Court. More justices would hamper, not aid, our work. Rather, periodically in our nation's history we have made important modifications in how the Supreme Court functions, and during the last 20 years the winds of change have increased in velocity. The need is illustrated by making comparisons with the first three years of Chief Justice Earl Warren's tenure, 1953-55, when the court disposed of an average of 91 cases per year by full signed opinions — a key yardstick of the court's work. For 1969-71, the average was 127 per year. In 1953-55, an average of 1,448 cases were filed each year. For 1969-71, the average was 3,489. For more than-the-fir-st-half-century of our national life, the Supreme Court had so few cases that justices were kept busy largely by "riding circuit" throughout the country hearing cases as the district courts and the courts of appeals do now. By the time of the Civil War, it was widely agreed that riding circuit should be totally eliminated, but it was not Chief Justice Burger until three decades later, in 1891, that Congress finally took the needed step, setting up our present system of regional courts of appeals. The long-overdue 1891 reform met the Supreme Court's need for only a brief period. By the 1920s, the tide of appellate litigation threatened to engulf the nine justices, and in 1925, Congress, on the urging of Chief Justice William Howard Taft, provided relief in the form of the discretion to grant or deny review of many cases. There were exceptions, and expansion of the exceptions created a problem that calls urgently for a solution. That solution must be either of the 1925 or the 1891 variety: the Supreme Court must be given total control of its docket or another court must be created. At present, specially convened three- judge district courts are empowered to enjoin actions based on statutes alleged to violate the Constitution, with direct appeal to the Supreme Court as a matter of right. ill Jr Anachronism With changes in legislation embracing an infinite variety of social and welfare benefits, with regulation of the economy and, increasingly, of political processes, the three-judge district court has now dramatically changed the docket of the Supreme Court. In 1942, only 28 per cent of the cases decided on merit by the Supreme Court were cases the court was compelled to hear. A decade later, this was 40 per cent; by 1972, it was 60 per cent. Year by year, the control of its calendar, which the Supreme Court was given in theory in 1925, is being whittled away. What is the solution if the nine justices are to have time for the study, reflection, and conferring process that is imperative to the function of the court of final resort? (1.) It is clear that the three-judge district courts should be abolished. Any danger that a single federal judge will act improperly in invalidating legislation can be minimized by the power of the judge, himself to suspend the effect of the judgment until it has been reviewed. If the judge does not, a court of appeals or the Supreme Court can preserve the status quo until review is completed. (2.) To help clear the bloated federal trial and appellate court dockets and to lessen congestion in the federal courts that feed the Supreme Court most of its cases, the anachronistic diversity of citizenship jurisdiction should be abolished. The logic behind such jurisdiction — that a person from one state or region might be treated unfairly elsewhere in the state courts — has been eroded over the years as the nation grew, matured, and became highly mobile. Damage claims, usually involving vehicles of different states, and other "diversity jurisdiction" cases make up nearly 20 per cent of the federal trial dockets. (3.) Does the solution lie in the creation of a new appellate court between the courts of appeals and the Supreme Court? At least four major national study committees — appointed by diverse groups — have probed this ques^ tion during the last five years, and have concluded that such a court is needed. In 1935, when Hughes, Van Devanter, McReynolds, Brandeis, Sutherland, Butler, Stone, Roberts and Cardozo sat, the Supreme Court faced 1,092 docketed cases annually. Today, nine justices, who lay no claim to triple or quadruple the stamina, acumen, and intellectual powers of these distinguished predecessors, face over 4,000 cases on the docket each year. » Controversial It has been suggested that it takes only "five or six seconds" to deny review in some cases. But can anyone seriously believe that a case that may have involved hundreds or even thousands of hours in other courts and in the preparation of briefs should be tossed aside in seconds! Or even minutes! To create a new intermediate court above the appeals court is a step of even more dramatic consequence than the step Congress took in 1891 creating the courts pf appeals. That move was controversial and hotly debated for years, but it proved to be necessary. Perhaps we should first take the less draconian, and less permanent, step of ending all automatic appeals to the Supreme Court, abolishing three-judge district courts and removing diversity jurisdiction from the federal courts. If those steps fail to meet the present problems of the Supreme Court, then an intermediate court will be needed. But even then let it be set up on a temporary basis, frankly experimental. Let there be a testing of time, let us say, four^five, or six_years L Then let Congress, thenepl~pfofessionrand the country, have the option of assessing the experiment. We have used temporary courts with notable success in the past. This is the prudent way to make sure that the Supreme Court can continue to give the thoughtful, reflective and enduring leadership in judicial affairs which the Constitution contemplated and our people have a right to demand. LETTERS Original 11 By SYDNEY HARRIS Field Newspaptr Syndic*)* Little things I learned en route to looking up other things: • That there were only 11 states in the Union when George Washington was elected president. (I always thought 13, didn't you?) • That more children are killed by cars each year than by all illnesses combined. • That Florence Nightingale spent less than two years working in war hospitals, and the last 50 years of her life as an invalid recluse, surrounded by cats. • That Hawaiian sounds so repetitious because there are only 13 letters in its alphabet, with only seven consonant i sounds. • That spaghetti is of Chinese origin, rather than Italian; it is probable that noodles were brought back by Marco Polo from the East in the Fourteenth Century^ Thinks fair's theme handled poorly To the Editor: As a "refugee from gracious living" — perhaps that should read "stranger in paradise" — after nine years of living in Iowa, I made my first trip to the State Fair accompanied by two other "colonizers," one of whdm was on vacation from England, and had planned her first trip to the U.S. to coincide with the State Fair. We were truly impressed. The organization involved, the facilities — the overall presentation was really terrific, with one notable exception. Why on earth was the theme the Colonizers, if it was carried out so badly? The lack of Union Jacks, the ignominy of the so-called British pub — I assure you that if that was meant to be a replica, the brewers would long have been out of business. And my heart bled for the English gals answering innumerable questions as to why they couldn't sell the meager wares on show — because they had no sales license! With the present troubles besetting our Mother Country, this is one embarrassment we could have been spared! ... — Nona Wambold, 115 N. Second St., Marshalltown, la. 50158. Danger posed by moralizers To the Editor: . . . The antics of this nation's would- be defenders of morality would be totally laughable were it not for the unfunny fact that some of them wield considerable influence or even legitimate governmental power and are not at all averse to using that power to propagate their foolish notions. No extremist group in America, on the left or the right, has as much potential to do violence to our liberties under the Constitution as these moralizers do. Extremists, after all, are widely viewed with suspicion, while the purveyors of an official morality are -UsuaUy-invested-with-all the trappings of respectability. They are more likely to be listened to. And now these self-appointed minions of decency are taking the First Lady to task for her audacious offense of voicing an honest opinion. Recall that Mrs. Ford was not preaching or proselytizing; she was merely asked a ..question about herself and she answered for herself. Simple, honest disagreement with her opinions would not disturb me. What I find alarming is the righteous fervor which animates so many of her critics. Surely such moralistic dogmatism applied to the essentially personal and private subject that she was discussing is inappropriate to a society which claims to be enlightened in even a small degree. - Tim Thomas 510 Sixth Ave., Coralville, la. Suggests husband counsel Mrs. Ford To the Editor: Betty Ford's public "stamp of approval" of what the present generation rather gauchely refer to as "shacking up" has literally__divided- our-country- into- what well may be considered a "civil war" between those for and those against her stand; not to mention those who put the blame on interviewer Morley Safer for daring to put such an intimate question to the First Lady, Yes, it probably should have been confined to the lady's boudoir, but she certainly had the option of taking the "Fifth"! Instead, she chose to set forth what appears to be a mandate for her daughter's peers as permission to cohabit without benefit of marriage. Mrs, Ford is certainly old enough and well educated enough to realize that she and her daughter have assumed through their leadership as First Family, an enviable position of authority. . . . It might be well, here and now, tor Jerry Ford to take time out from his coming election campaigning and have a little heart-to-heart talk with Betty assuring her that he is really supposed to be the President of "all the people," and not just those who "like to swing." — Margaret K. Keller, 2 Fourteenth St., Sioux City, la. 51103. She backs Betty; has doubts about Gerald To the Editor: At last, a rational comment on sexual affairs — and from no less than the wife of a conservative politician. I may have doubts about voting for Gerald, but Betty I support. It is unfortunately symptomatic of our vocally "moral" society that Mrs. Ford's comments have been met with irrational diatribes about virtue's decay. It's time we all appreciated that sexual mores are each individual's business. — not that of a superficially fundamentalist society.— Connie Jensen, 34(Hii Eighth St., jxue, la. 52001. 1

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