The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa on August 27, 1975 · Page 6
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August 27, 1975

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The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa · Page 6

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Wednesday, August 27, 1975
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OPINION Wed., Aug. 27, 1978 DAVID KRUtDEWER, Prmidmt «nd Publisher KENNETH MACDONALD, editor MICHAEL GARTNER, Executive Editor LAUREN SOTH, Editorial Page Editor J. ROBERT HUDSON, Director of Marketing LOUIS H. NORR1S. Businm Mtnoqer An Independent Newspaper THE REGISTER'S EDITORIALS How it could happen The U.S. Army developed a plan for handling civil disorders after the riots in Watts, Newark and Detroit and the antiwar demonstrations in the Johnson administration. The Army is now releasing information about the plan in compliance with requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act. The Lm Angeles Times reports that evidence of scandal has not been turned up in the release of information so far. The code name for the Army plan on civil disorders was Garden Plot; it did not provide for establishing martial law. The Army has not yet made public all the information about Garden Plot, for the usual reason that secrecy is essential to the national security. So suspicion about martial law, plans to throw dissenters into jail or, imagining the very 'worst, a military takeover of the government have not been totally allayed. Why was the, plan secret at all? Why was it kept secret all these years? Knowing the paranoia in the Johnson White House, to say nothing of the same disease in the Nixon establishment, we cannot feel much comforted that this Army riot control plan did not get far.. The fact that it was contemplated makes us nervous, as we read about what is happening to the democratic government of India, American tradition, practice of freedom and democratic institutions are, much stronger than those in the, struggling infant republic of India. Still, how would the U.S.A. have stood up for free- dom if Johnson or Nixon had become so frightened and frustrated they began rounding up dissenters and jailing them? The story coming out now about the Garden Plot, in the wake of the law violations and contempt for the Constitution in the Nixon administration, reminds us of the need for constant vigilance. It shows the importance of free access of the people to information about what their elected officials are doing. Democracy and freedom are but a thin veneer which many people seem willing to scrape away in any kind of emergency, real or fancied. Riots and disorder must be dealt with by the responsible governments, of course. Conceivably, the riots of the 1960s might have become so dangerous as to require federal troops, or the federalizing of the National Guard. (The performance of National Guard troops in several riots was so incompetent it is no wonder Johnson turned to the Army.) Steps of that kind in full view of the public would not be alarming. Moreover, we should think they would be more effective than a secret anti-riot plan, by gaining public cooperation. The secrecy of Garden Plot, in retrospect, shows us how a real conspiracy to put down opposition and establish a dictatorship might develop, with the public knowing nothing until it was too late. It could happen here. Mobil shows the way Rawleigh Warner, jr., chairman of the Mobil Oil Corp., has armed Congress with solid arguments fon overriding President Ford's threatened veto of the bill to extend price controls on "old" oil — oil from wells that went into production prior to 1972. If the veto were sustained, the price of about two-thirds of oil produced in the U.S. would be free to shoot up from $5,25 a barrel to about $12 a barrel. A letter from Warner to members of Congress points out that sudden decontrol "might cause a shock to America's fragile economic recovery." He estimated the cost to oil consumers at from $8 billion to $14 billion annually and the total cost of increased prices at many billions more. Mobil's chairman did not call on Ford to refrainfrom vetoing the price control extension, nor did he urge Congress to override a veto, but both pleas were implicit in his letter. By stressing the inflationary impact of sudden decontrol and warning that voluntary efforts by oil companies to hold down prices are "probably illegal," Warner clearly is urging extension of controls. Such an_extensiq$yj«)uld provide 'time- fo? Congress and the administration to work out the sort of solution Warner favors — "decontrol over several years." He didn't say over how long a period the decontrol should take, but he argued against a windfall profits tax on the profits that would accompany a phase-out of controls. Warner's position on windfall profits is debatable, but the case for easing controls on "old" oil is strong. Costs have risen enormously since the $5.25-a-barrel price was established. The controlled price is far out of line with the world price of oil. The Mobil Oil Corp. is to be commended for taking a constructive stand on oil price controls. It is also a realistic stand. The company leadership recognizes, as some oil company executives and the President seem not to, that a sudden end to controls could have chaotic economic consequences. The reaction to this would be adverse both to the oil industry and the administration. President Ford at one time offered as a compromise a program of phased decontrol spread over a period of 39 months. But he seems willing now to scrap all controls immediately as part o£a gamesmanship contest with Con- -gressTThe opposition to'such decontrol by a major oil producer ought to give the administration second thoughts. No utility taxes? Senator Lee Metcalf (Dem., Mont.), a persistent harasser of the stockholder- owned electric utilities, introduced a bill to "totally exempt" such utilities from federal income taxes. Metcalf has not been suddenly overtaken with remorse and compassion toward the managers of the investor- owned utilities. He said he only wanted to accomplish openly what has already occurred through hidden tax loopholes. In other words, his bill is a sarcastic way of showing how the utilities avoid or shift income taxes. Metcalf claims that electric rates sometimes reflect more set-asides for taxes than are actually paid. "This leads," he says, "to tax keeping rather than tax pay\rig." At the end of 1973, according to Met calf, the electric utilities held $4.2 billion in unpaid federal taxes which had been collected from customers. He said this money was used to purchase utility plants. That sounds devious and tricky, a way to gouge the long-suffering consumer. But if the utility-regulating authorities do their job properly, what difference does it make whether the utility pays federal income tax? The utility regulatory commissions presumably set rates at levels which keep profits to stockholders at a minimum necessary for raising capital. Higher income taxes would mean higher rates to customers. The power companies would be acting as tax collectors for the federal government. One way or another, the utilities have to get the money to build plants and cover operating costs. The only place to get the money is from the customer. So maybe Metcalf has a sound plan: excuse the companies from income taxes and reduce rates to consumers. According to his figures, that wouldn't amount to much, since they paid only $528 million in federal income taxes in 1974 on $42 billion of revenues. Worry about Soviet navy American and British naval officers are always worrying about the growing Soviet navy, which in some respects is the world's biggest, and which has begun lately to show the flag around the world, as the then-small U.S. navy began to do in 1908. The latest edition of Jane's Fighting Ships, a $43 British publication containing a factual description of the navies of the world, has a foreword by editor John Moore saying the Soviet navy is too big for its proper mission; hence it must be intended to threaten navies arid merchant shipping of other nations. What else does he think navies are for? It is true the Soviet merchant fleet is only the sixth largest at present and that Russia is less dependent on imports than most major powers. But British and American naval doc trine has long contended that convoying your own shipping is a minor function; that a navy's principal mission is "command of the seas," which means driving other nations' shipping and navies off the high seas if they object to highhanded wartime controls. The Soviet submarine and anti-submarine fleet is huge and growing, and Soviet rocketry is superb, but U.S. admirals think it cannot find and destroy U.S. nuclear submarines. There are no big Soviet aircraft carriers, though some new smaller ones worry American admirals. Could the Soviets be right? Gigantic aircraft carriers are still the backbone of the U.S. "general purpose" fleet, though questions are being raised about their vulnerability. Nuclear-powered, nuclear-missile submarines are the backbone of U.S. Navy "strategic forces." The U.S. Navy's avowed mission, set forth in Defense Secretary James R. Schlesinger's latest, annual report to Congress, is much the same as the one Jane's Fighting Ships condemns the Soviet Union for: "control of the seas" and destroying the submarines and other naval elements of possible foes. LOKH66D BELIEVE WSnWlON KJU'U MftKE % RN6ST LITTLE A U)Wj£VEL,PI)TOTBafa RW|.. NOT &ON Few Northern cities acting on school desegregation By JOSEPH KRAFT Fltld Niwipaptr Syndicate The return to school' this year registers an : f { undoubted failure for American democracy. The drive for racial desegregation in the,» Northern cities has petered out. The best sign of what I has happened is a Jus-l tice Department list of school districts where new desegregation plans, or modifications of old ones, are being put into effect this year. The list is remarkable for skimpiness. In only 20 school districts across the land is new legal action to promote desegregation even being contemplated. —Eleven-of—these-districts are in five Southern states which now are completing the desegregation process initiated by the Supreme Court 21 years ago. The most prominent big cities are undertaking no action at all. Nothing is happening in Chicago or Philadelphia or Los Angeles or, except for a junior high school in Coney Island, New York City.' Landmark case Most of the Northern cities where desegregation action is under way are special cases. Detroit, for example. In a landmark case last year, the Supreme Court rejected a plan for desegregation by busing between the white suburbs and the black center city on the ground there was no proof that the suburban, school districts had been established pri- marily for racial reasons. ,Now the Detroit school board and the courts are working out a plan for desegregation of the center city in a way that does not touch the suburbs. Three other major cases — Indianapolis, Louisville and Wilmington, Del. — are cities where the logic of the Detroit decision cuts the other way. In each of these cities there was evidence that the division between suburbs and center city was designed to promote school segregation. So in these three cities there are going forward — subject to court decisions — plans for transfer of students between the downtown and the suburbs. Finally there are a few cases where desegregation in Northern cities is being forced by a persistent black leadership with access to resourceful legal advice. Boston, where a new desegregation plan is due to come into effect on Sept. 8, is the leading example. The evidence of the skimpy list is_ reinforced by the trend of public debate. Those who confidently advocated desegregation of schools only a few years ago have swung around. The Supreme Court decision in the Detroit case is only one example. Black leaders, notably in Atlanta, have accepted predominantly black schools rather than go for desegregation which might promote white flight to the suburbs. James Coleman, distinguished white professor who produced a famous report which seemed to argue desegregation several years ago, is now warning about flight to the suburbs and questioning the capacity of judges to redraw school districts. But if facts have to be faced, shoulders don't have to be shrugged. The failure to achieve desegregation in the Northern schools is not a good thing either in practice or as an ideal. Most important With respect to practice, the predominantly black ghetto schools are breeding grounds of crime, violence and social dislocation. If there is a single index of urban decline, one factor which explains the troubles of Newark, Cleveland, Hartford and Baltimore, it is the development of almost all-black public school systems. The improvement of education in such schools is perhaps the most important social priority of the country today. As to ideals, they may have to be saved for a more generous time. But if rapid desegregation on a citywide basis -isr not practtcar-Tmymorer-stoweT-and more selective progress is not impossible. The fight for high-quality black schools which can serve as magnets for white students is more urgent than ever. Similarly with the need to eliminate discrimination against black teachers. Given the sour temper of the times, in other words, the disposition to turn philosophically away from other people's troubles is less than ever acceptable. Educational opportunity lies at the core of-our_system. Anything less is inconsistent with both the equality which goes with democracies and the efficiency we claim to get from capitalism. When the Kremlin hears the clatter of chopsticks By DENIS WARNER A sign of the .times is the new round of jokes in Russia about the Chinese. One is an updated version of the good news-bad news story that circulated about the time Russia was moving into space — and into ill humor with its former ally in Peking. One of Brezhnev's aides reported that he had both good news and bad news. Brezhnev thought he would like to hear the bad news first. "The Chinese have landed on the moon," said the aide. Brezhnev asked what could possibly be good after that. "All of them," said the aide. The current story goes like this: Brezhnev is working late in the Kremlin when the chief security guard comes breathlessly into his office to tell him that people are setting up tents in the Red Square. Brezhnev tells the officer not to bother him with such details. Night after night the officer returns and each time Brezhnev brushes him away. "But Comrade Leonid Ilyich, the're are hundreds of thousands oif them," says Ihe guard finally. "So what?" asks Brezhnev. "But Comrade," the guard protests, "they are all eating with chopsticks!" 'New Hitler' The Chinese refer to Brezhnev as a new Hitler, and the Chinese press is again accusing the Soviet Union of threatening to launch a pre-emptive attack and of stepping up mobilization and plans for a war of aggression. Not since i%9, when the two countries exchanged shots on the Ussuri River, have relations been worse. Instead of rejoicing in Socialist unity at the victory Denis Warner, an Australian, has been covering Asian affairs for more than 25 year*. of their allies in Jndochina, they have fallen out more sharply over the spoils. The admission by the Vietnamese that, althoygh the Russians will not have a base at Cam Ranh Bay, they will be free to use the installations, has created new tensions between Peking and Hanoi, For better or worse, Vietnam is very much in the Russian camp. Russia has moved quickly to promise substantial quantities of economic aid, and many Soviet ships have been delivering supplies to South Vietnamese ports. Gasoline had soared to $8 a gallon before Russian tankers arrived in Saigon to ease the shortage. The Russians also have become extremely active in Laos. Similar clause A new aid program to Indonesia, which declines to resume diplomatic relations with Peking, is modest but given on attractive terms. The Chinese insisted on including ,a reference to great-power hegemony in the communiques issued when they entered into diplomatic relations with Thailand and the Philippines. They are determined to insert a similar clause in the peace treaty with Japan. But the Russians have kicked up such a fuss that the Japanese are now in an acute dilemma: they can go ahead with the treaty on the terms demanded by the Chinese only at the risk of destroying whatever hopes there may be of reaching agreement with the Russians. There is no prdspect of any improvement in Russian and Chinese relations in the forseeable future, but the risk of war probably is not great. It would become greater, in the Chinese view, if the United States, in the wake of its defeats in Indochina, were to withdraw from Asia. Disorderly stability Thus, Peking is very muted in its criticism of the American presence in the Indian Ocean and South Korea, very anxious to see that presence generally maintained, and, above all, to see that the American shield is not removed from Europe, since the more the Soviet Union is required to maintain its garrisons there, the fewer troops it will be able to spare for the China border. If all of this is far removed from the era of peace and neutrality that the optimists expected to follow the end of the war in Indochina, the scene in East Asia is beginning to settle down into a sort of disorderly stability. There has ; been some increase in the level of insurgency in Thailand and Malaysia, but the feared flood of weapons to other Southeast Asian states from Vietnam does not yet seem to have begun to flow. The two Koreas preserve an uneasy peace, and the United States, with arms aid for Indonesia and firm guarantees to South Korea and Japan, has relieved many fears.that an American retreat might follow the collapse in Indochina. It is not exactly a picture of peaceful serenity, but it is about the best that might have been expected after the fall of Saigon. Parents' choice Mllw*ukM Journal A favorite argument for holding down teachers' salaries is that teachers generally work only 10 months a year. Seldom does anyone debate why it is only 10 months. The idea of year-round schooling, which has received much more publicity than actual acceptance across the country, has has another setback. Virginia's Loudoun County school board has dropped the year-round plan after a two- year experiment, contrary to the urging of the district's teachers. The board's reason: parental opposition. Since it is not the teachers' fault that society wants to operate its schools for only 10 months a year, it hardly seems fair to scorn or penalize teachers for being unemployed for the other two months. LETTERS Dim future tor small business? To the Editor: "Family Closes Market, Ends 12-year Tradition" was the headline in a recent Register article about the closing of the Neumeisters Dubuque market, a family enterprise of apparently warm, ex* emplary, far-above-the-call-of-duty service that met a great need for many, including aged and handicapped people. throughout the article there was a pervading suggestion of weariness, not a little of which apparently resulted from "mounting government-imposed regulations," "restrictions," "federal regulations" — to put it bluntly, ever-increasing bureaucratic oppression and harassment has forced another small, independent businessman to quit. I have just returned from a national agricultural convention. Men of national and international stature spoke during the four days, and several times it was emphasized that six million small farmers have been forced from the land and high government officials have stated that a million and a half more small farmers (anyone farming less than 250 acres is a small fanner) must be forced off the land. These families will become wards of some overcrowded, crime-ridden city, fortunate to get menial work, many to go on relief. The small farmer and the small independent businessman have been the backbone of the free-enterprise system that made the United States supreme. Unless these vicious trends are halted, celebration of the Bicentennial and all it stands JoLand_jepresentsJs a hollow mockery. — W. D. Martin, 114 W. Sixth St., Vinton, la. Grievance against 'foreigners 9 To the Editor: I read with great interest the letter from readers on your Aug. 18 editorial page, regarding the sale of lowans' treasured land to foreigners. I say this: Whatever price the seller received was 100 per cent profit! At least the buyer didn't come in and slaughter your people, rape your women and burn your villages. to~T6pTtall, the whites who settled America bragged about it. They were proud of how they traded some dumb savage out of his land for a bushel of corn, a jug of whisky, or a few trinkets. Or they merely took the land and in return gave us a treaty which was nothing more than lies.^ Yes, I object to foreigners. •<- Conrad (Buffalo Boy) Silk (Standing; Rock Sioux Tribe), Fort Madison, la., 52W7. Izaak Walton League and pollution To the Editor: I find it difficult to understand the logic of the Izaak Walton League's Save- Our-Streams program as described in the Aug. 3 Register. They plan to drive a mobile home 50,000 miles at a cost of $75,000 annually to teach the public to become aware of and prevent stream pollution. Maybe they will bring their own yan to the Muscatine chapter of the Izaak Walton League at Fairport, la. There on weekends and during the week, they throw thousands of pounds of lead shot, plastic wads, and clay targets into the Mississippi River. Can the Izaak Walton League condone and promote pollution of rivers by calling it sport? I wonder if it would be considered pollution to throw beer cans in the river as long as you shoot at them? - Richard Davis, Rt. 3, Mnsca- tine, la. Totalitarianism and freedom To the Editor: If the peoples of South Korea, Taiwan Greece, and Portugal have no more freedom than do the peoples of Communist countries why have there not been walls with barb wire, dogs and armed guards to keep people inside these countries? Your editorial of Aug. 20 saying these nations had no more freedom than do nations under Communist control was incredible. — — You ignored at least 20 years of history from the time of the Hungarian uprising being crushed with tanks to the capital city of Cambodia being emptied where even the children, the crippled and the sick were driven from hospitals into the countryside. - Harvey Nel&fti M4 Meadowlark Drive, Madison, Wis! Writers praised To the Editor: I have read The Register' for many years and have enjoyed it. I'd like to commend especially two people who contribute to your fine paper. I hope Erwin D. Canham (Christian Science Monitor columnist) will continue his good work. . . . Quite a contrast but a fine contributor is Donald Kaul. He is sound and thought-provoking. — Mr». F Pye, 701 Oaknoll Drive, Iowa Citv la 52241. y

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