Page 4 article text (OCR)
OPINION Sat., Aug. 90, If7i SfyeHeg jfloinf o Bcoigtcr DAVID KRUIDENIER, Pr»««» and PabUslvef KENNETH MACDONALD, FMnr MICHAEL GARTNER, Etteuthv fMtor LAUREN SOTH, Editorial Page fliitor J. ROBERT HUDSON, Director ofMarketing LOUIS H. NORRIS, ftwina* Manager An Independent Newspaper THE REGISTER'S EDITORIALS Trying to bully Japan United States Defense Secretary James Schlesinger arrived in Japan Aug. 28 to work out mechanics of "sharing the defense of Japan." This phrase is soft-soap talk for bullying Japan into a more active military role. In 1941-45, the United States fought a long and terrible war to destroy Japan's armed forces and warmaking capacity. Since 1950 the United States has been pushing Japan to rebuild its armed forces. Japan, then very dependent, responded reluctantly and slowly. Japan got around the popular no-war, no- armed-forces clause in the constitution by giving its new armed forces the name of "Self Defense Forces." Japan forbade them to operate overseas, and ever since has kept their cost down to about 1 per cent of Japan's gross national product — very small for a large, rich country. The United States government is not satisfied. U.S. Defense Department leaders feel that Japan is getting a free ride on defense, that U.S. nuclear weapons and the U.S.-Japanese defense treaty amount to the U.S. paying the costs for the defense of Japan. One segment of Japan's ruling conservative party (the "Liberal Democrats") accepts this view, but every time a spokesman talks about revising the Japanese constitution, increasing the armed forces, or going nuclear, he gets clobbered by public indignation. However, a series of Japanese opinion polls and assorted other signs indicate that Japan's "nuclear allergy" is fading and that most Japanese expect ultimately to have to do more for defense, though few are in a hurry. The Pentagon is in a hurry. For weeks, U.S. professional armed forces leaders have been conferring with Japanese Self Defense Force professionals about what more Japan could do without triggering popular revulsion. Schlesinger's visit is intended to pull these ideas together into a co-operative agreement. Some of the ideas talked about by the professionals of the two countries are Japanese air-sea patrols several hundred miles out from the Japanese home islands, in co-operation with the U.S. Navy; Japanese routine escort missions at sea which are now performed by U.S. destroyers; expanded Japanese anti-submarine forces so Japan could take on protection of merchant shipping bringing needed imports to Japan. The Japanese leftist minority of Socialists and Communists would be happy to see the U.S. alliance end and Japan slip into a loose alliance with China and Russia. The fact that China and Russia are foes now makes this maneuver safer, some Japanese think. The dominant Japanese Liberal Democrats want to hang on to the U.S. alliance, but on a basis of equality, not dependence, with an option of getting out of the alliance and getting the remaining U.S. forces out of Japan. Public pressure calls for Japan to stay non-nuclear, keep the defense forces small, gradually push U.S. military bases out of Okinawa and Japan proper, and make friends with China and Russia. These pressures imply a feeling that neither leftist nor rightist leaders voice often — that the U.S. alliance is more of a danger than a protection; that large Japanese armed forces would be more danger than protection; and that Japan is safe from attack so long as it tries to be friendly to all and retains its productive economy. Is this popular Japanese conviction naive? U.S. leaders think so, and try to shove and inveigle Japan out of it. But the Japanese people could be right. Protection for the grieving The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has proposed rules to prevent morticians from taking advantage of grieving families of the dead. After a two-year investigation of funeral practices, the agency reported finding widespread evidence of deceptive and exploitive sales tactics by funeral home operators. The proposed rules would forbid "body snatching" (picking up and embalming a dead person without a family's consent), bait-and-switch methods in selling caskets, requiring the purchase of a casket even when the corpse is to be cremated, and profit-making from such things as flower orders, crematory charges, publication of obituaries and getting clergymen and musicians for services. The rules, if adopted, would override state laws or regulations that sanction questionable practices. Of major concern to the FTC are state restrictions against price advertising. In Iowa, embalming and funeral practices are governed by rules set by the State Health Department and the licensing board for embalmers and funeral directors. These rules adopt, by reference, the code of ethics of the Iowa Funeral Directors Association. The association code states that members are to "refrain from price advertising." At another point the code says price advertising is "harmful to the profession [and] not in public interest." At least two Iowa mortuaries — the Christy funeral home in Sioux City and the McCurdy funeral home in^ Council Bluffs — are advertising the price of their services. Sherman Larson of Christy's said the firm has been doing so about 20 years. Tracy McCurdy began advertising his prices in July. The two said they have not had complaints or inquiries about their advertising practices from the state licensing board. Neither belongs to the state funeral directors association. The rule against price advertising, whether stringently enforced or not, remains an inhibiting restraint on other morticians who might wish to disclose publicly what they charge for services. A restraint on price advertising is a restraint on competition. Health specialists, scientists and theologians are successfully removing many of the misconceptions about death and the archaic customs from which they stem. Now would be an appropriate time for funeral directors to lift the mysteries with which some of them have shrouded their selling practices. Having seen no sign that funeral directors will do this voluntarily, a federal agency proposes to accomplish it by federal regulations intended to protect sorrowing consumers. That does not represent a vote of confidence in those who have assumed the responsibility of tending to the dead and easing the burdens of those who mourn. Adjusting to imports The high current unemployment in the United States combined with an active foreign trade is giving the trade adjustment law a workout. Labor leaders are calling the assistance payments "only a BandAid" for workers laid off because their companies cannot compete with foreign imports. These union leaders still prefer the old-fashioned resort to higher U.S. tariffs and quotas against competing foreign imports, but they may feel differently in time. Workers are consumers, too, and it is not fair to make consumers pay the costs for firms that cannot compete in the marketplace without special protec- Since 1962 U.S. law has included trade adjustment provisions to help workers and firms hurt by imports. The law provides subsistence payments and job frainiag for workers who lose their jobs and loans for firms to help them become more efficient or to shift to another business where they can be more efficient. But until 1974, the trade ad- foment provisions were skimpy and JesSve^and consequently little used. Now the law's provisions are more generous and they are being used, £««<>* better for this stimulus to efficiency. In some cases (such as textiles) Americans should expect increasing I competition from abroad and be prepared to shift gradually out of fields which are labor-intensive and which give low-cost-labor countries a competitive advantage. In many other fields, U.S. skills, capital and techniques make the U.S. unsurpassed. The United States will be better off if it makes adjustments like this continuously. Even the American workers and businessmen forced to change fields will be better off in the long run to find more rewarding endeavors. The trade adjustment law's purpose is to help them do so. An educated man is generally wellmarked: he cultivates an open mind; always listens to one who knows; never laughs at new ideas; knows the secret of getting along with other people; cultivates the habit of success: links himself with a just cause: knows that it. is never too late to learn. — Reinbeck Courier. "The people of Portugal may not know what kind of government they want," a woman told a foreign newsman as bloody rioting swept the northern half of the country. "But they know what they don't want — the Communists." — Los Angeles Times Pride in the intelligence rhat sends the Viking [space probe] on its way [to Mars] might well be leavened with an equal amount of humility here on earth. — St. Louts Post-Dispatch. Viltmin, Hirtfartf TlmM (RMfm) The Great Grain Robbery NYC money crisis seen as a testing of Democrats By JOSEPH KRAFT Fltld Ntwspaper Syndic*!* Can the Democrats govern in a period when there is a tomorrow and money can't be thrown away? That, is the national issue posed by the financial crisis in New York City. Mayor Abraham B e a m e already has failed the test — and in ways that make it easy for the Ford administration to duck responsibility. But Gov. Hugh Carey is now considering a bold plan for state takeover of city finances which would engage Washington and perhaps put Carey in the forefront, of the fight for the Democratic presidential nomination. The Democrats are on the spot in New York for two reasons. First, they are unambigously in power. Unlike Republican Mayor John Lindsay and Mayor Robert .Wagner, who ran with Republican support. Mayor Bearhe is a pure product of the Democratic organization in Brooklyn. Governor Carey is the man who won last year by reuniting labor, liberals and ethnic groups in the old Democratic coalition. Second, any solution to the city's fiscal problems runs hard against the Democrats' principal clients. There will have to be higher charges and reduced benefits in health, education and transit services dear to the low-income voters who regularly go Democratic. There also will have to be a curbing of salaries, pensions and featherbedding practices by the city employes who lie at. the heart of the Democratic organization. Soft stance Mayor Beame has shown himself totally unable to go against the pressure of his clients. Far from stressing the seriousness of the fiscal pinch the better to exact sacrifice, he has consistently understated the size of the city deficit. Ke has only grudgingly laid off em- ployes. This soft stance has made it easy for President Ford and his men to reject the city's pleas for federal aid. Arthur Burns of the Federal Reserve Board simply indicated that he would protect banks which suffered losses from New York's financial troubles. With the problem thus contained, Ford and Treasury Secretary William Simon had only to make pious sermons on the need for New York to undergo fiscal discipline. Governor Carey seemed disposed to go along with Mayor Beame, but increasing evidence that the city's troubles Vould engulf the state have moved the governor. Ten days ago Carey called on the mayor to take "drastic steps" to cut city services and payrolls and to present a true picture of the city's debts. Now he's considering a plan to take over the city's financial responsibilities. The plan calls for setting up a Financial Management Board, to be appointed by the governor, for the purpose of running the finances of New York City for the next three years. The board would prepare the city's annual budget, receive all revenues, supervise all expenditures and achieve a balanced budget by 1978. Long-range plan To that'end there would be a three- year freeze on wages and pensions, accelerated attrition of city employes and higher charges for many services. The state would provide $1 billion of its credit for a year. New York banks would be asked to underwrite the state credit and to add another $600 million. The plan has not yet been bought by the banks. It also requires authorization by the state legislature. Pushing the plan through the legislature is not going to be easy. Democrats and Republicans alike will be gunning for the governor. Moreover, even if it goes through, Carey will be exposing the state's credit to the city's problems. He could easily come a cropper. But if Carey can line up the banks and the state legislature, he will have a long-range plan for city finances, and Washington will not easily be able to avoid giving support — especially since failure then would involve the whole state. Governor Carey would be in good position to force efficient management upon the municipal unions. He would not merely have saved the city, he would have tamed it. Given the overwhelming public hostility to government spending, that achievement in itself would put him close to the top of the contenders for the Democratic nomination. Patrick Henry's warning of 'imperial presidency' By .TAMES J. KILPATRICK Washlntton Stir syndicate The American Bar Association heard three heavyweights the other day on the issue of presidential power. The three distinguished scholars came up with a conclusion that even light- j weights could have r e a c h ed : Time and events have contrived, willy-nilly, to confer great powers upon our presidents; and willy-nilly, presidents will use them. Prof. Arthur Schlesinger, who helped to foster the imperial presidency, once more expressed dismay at his offspring. Prof. James MacGregor Burns, whose faith in the party system remains touchingly strong, once more advocated a strengthening of the party system. Prof. Raoul Berger, who contributed so much to the aborted impeachment of Richard Nixon, turned around on the theme of a president's war-making powers, which he found insufficiently restrained. The topic is as old as the Constitution itself, but it is not a topic that would be reserved for intellectual disputation. All of us can get in this act. Does the executive have too much power? Yes. Is the excess of power likely to he surrendered voluntarily? No. Js the presidential power likely to increase? Yes. Will Congress do anything about it? No. Will the judiciary restrain the presidency? Only in the most extraordinary instances. What, then, should be done? The answer is In elect, presidents with some sense of self-restraint, and to hope for the best. Under the original plan of our federated union, the states were to provide a massive bulwark against the excesses of national power, but the states today are not even paper barricades. Under the theory of separation of powers, the three branches of government were conceived as related planets, each confined to its own orbit; but the theory no longer commands respect. Inevitably, as national problems have demanded national attack, political power has surged to Washington; and inevitably, within Washington, the exercise of that power has gone to the president and to the executive agencies. Man and boy, I have spent most of my life hearing talk of "restoring the balance of power." and it is all talk. Now and then Congress stirs its flabby bulk and exercises some forgotten muscle; but it is only now and then. The more familiar pattern is for Congress not to assert its powers, but to abdicate them. All this was foreseen. Listen to Patrick Henry: "If your American chief be a man of ambition and abilities, how easy is it for him to render himself absolute! The army is in his hands. . . . He is to be supported in extravagant magnificence . . . Will not the influence of the president himself have great weight in his re-election? . . ." Under Gerald Ford, the superficial trappings of an "imperial" presidency have disappeared — the trumpets, the footmen, the "Hail to the Chief" — but' the substance remains. The power remains. LETTERS Alton lock and dam project is defended To the Editor: The Columbia Broadcasting System aired a story on proposed navigation Locks and Dam 26 on the Mississippi River near Alton, III, as part of its "60 Minutes" program Aug. 24. ... We feel the television audience was not informed that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible in an engineering way for the development of the inland waterways system, does the work at the direction of the American people, through their congressional representatives. Not one cent of money can be spent by the Corps on any project until it is approved by Congress. ... We were particularly interested in the comments of Alan Boyd, president of the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad. Boyd's railroad is one of the most profitable in the United States and is not in bankruptcy. One reason for this »s that the railroad serves plants along the inland waterways that get their raw materials through low-cost waterways transportation, and the railroad handles the finished products at high freight rates. The nine-foot channel on the upper Mississippi, created by locks and dams and dredging, has resulted in one of 'the biggest wildlife refuges in the country. The environment hasn't, been "degraded" as the environmentalists have claimed. ... This is indeed a bellwether case for Ihe inland waterways and the American people as a whole. If they want to keep their waterways functioning, and if they want to ship their goods at the lowest possible rate, Locks and Dam 26 must be built, and as quickly as possible. If the old dam does go out, as was indicated on the program, the American people are going to pay through the nose to get grain shipped by land transportation from the Midwest into the East and South for domestic consumption, to say nothing of export commitments to foreign countries. The same applies to coal, gas, fuel oil and fertilizer going North. ... — James V. Swift, vice-president, Waterways Jonrnal, '701 Chemical Bldg., St. Louis, Mo. 63101. 'Cut wages, prices to restore buying power 9 To the Editor: The lead editorial in the Aug. 25 Register shows concern about growing inflation but agrees with the theory that "a stimulative fiscal-monetary policy is needed now despite the inflationary surge." It is difficult to understand" how such a policy could help economic recovery. Our depression began thus: Near the end of 1973 consumption of goods and services in America showed a significant decline (measured in actual quantity, not in inflated dollars) caused by failure of income of many consumers to keep up with rising prices. This occurred despite the fact unemployment was then at an "acceptable" level, average wages were keeping up with inflation, very many people were living higher than ever before.and gross national product was at a high level. Soon thereafter this drop in consumption began forcing lower production, and decreased employment to a level that would not restore total buying power sufficiently to maintain production. And a stimulative, fiscal-monetary policy, or any program of increasing availability of capital and reducing its cost, would stimulate only that unde- pressed part of our total buying power that was still going so strong at the end of 1973 as to produce inflation even before the oil crisis. That policy could only accelerate inflation and thus deepen the depression. f Obviously public funds will never be sufficient to restore the buying power of that depressed part of our consumers by increased relief, pensions, etc., to that sector. So what's the answer? (1) Drastic re- .duction of wages and prices to restore the buying power of that depressed sector of our consumers, preferably by voluntary action by big business, big finance and big labor, rather than by big politicians. Or (2) the vastly more costly reduction that will be forced by prolonged depression. The above picture of our situation is a much simplified one but it contains the determining factors. — William P. House), Humboldt, la. 50548. Doubts switch to metric worthwhile To the Editor: The Aug. 23 Register features a story, "Making the Move to Metric." . . . The costs of converting, I have read, are very large. Naturally, some of the big" firms, which do business abroad, can show lower conversion costs because of uniformity in production for U.S. and export sales. It will not be so cheap for many businessmen, union workers, or the rest of us. Tools, control knobs, building and repair supplies including lumber, pipe, roofing, etc.; grocery items, thermometers, and almost endless other items will require costly changes. The resulting confusion, and extra strain of all this, especially on our older people, will cause a lot of trouble and some tragedies. The people should have the final say. . . . Which is more important, the peace of mind of our people, or a little more convenience in foreign trade? —.Don Romkey, Rt. 2, Mt. Pleasant, Fa. 52841. IOWA PAPERS ARE SAYING- Tax unit still unbalanced Cedar Rapids Gazette The bipartisan Legislative Council, composed of 20 Iowa House and Senate leaders, made a concession to the cities. Council members added Senator Fred Nolting, Waterloo Democrat, to the property tax study committee in a gesture designed to give it better rural- urban balance. It was a concession, and appreciated, even though it wasn't much of one. Rural legislators outnumbered urban legislators (11 to 4) when the committee was appointed a few weeks ago. Moreover, the council again ignored the requests of Senator Earl Willits, Des Moines Democrat, and Representative B. Joseph Rinas, Marion Democrat, to be assigned to the study committee. Willits chairs the Senate Cities Committee and Rinas the House Cities- Towns Committee. Their presence on the study committee would have given it better bal- lance, especially in view of property tax collections for the 18-month period ended last June 30. They show that urban area residents paid one-third more ($691.5) million) than rural area residents ($475.6 million). Residential properties produced $370.1 million of the urban total, and farmland and buildings produced $338 million of the rural total. There is no member on the committee from any one of these larger cities in the state: Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Dubuque, Iowa City, Ames, Fort Dodge, Mason City. Ottumwa, Burlington, Muscatine and Cedar Rapids. Despite the addition of Senator Nolting to its ranks, the study committee is still weighted more than it should be toward rural interests. Urges study of lotteries Quad-City Times Proposals for the establishment of an Iowa state lottery have Robert Holetz, deputy commissioner of public safety, and Wendell Nichols, Des Moines police chief, worried about its potential lure to "organized crime." Illinois has been in the business for a year and the city of Omaha, Neb., plans to begin one this fall. Presumably residents of western Iowa will rush to participate in that one just Excerpts from editorial comment in Iowa newspapers. as eastern lowans are hooked on the Illinois game of chance. Carl T. Rowan, the columnist, thinks the evidence is "clear that state lotteries are mostly revenue-raising gimmicks by politicians who don't have the guts to enact broad-based, efficient, fair tax laws. . . . Citizens will blow their money on a lottery without blaming politicians, but if the same money is taken as a direct tax, citizens will want to run the politicians out of office." But even Rowan agrees there is probably no reversing of the trend. Iowa legislators ought to heed the fears of the crime prevention officials, however, and delve into the practical experiences of the lottery states. Then, when lottery proposals pick up steam, they might have the savvy to avoid the legislative loopholes which marked the gambling law. Good living Costly smile Iowa Falls Hardin County Times You get some idea of the relative popularity of professional golfers and presidents from the back-to-back visits to Iowa by Arnold Palmer and President Ford! Both attended cocktail parties which those with the heavy money could attend. Those Republicans who wished for an opportunity to rub an elbow with Gerald Ford laid out $100. But the golfers had to plunk down $250 for a chance smile from Arnie. Any further comment from us would bring accusations of partisanship. Rock Rapids Lyon County Reporter One of the fine things which we have obsirved in the past few years is the large number of new homes which are being built in our smaller communities. Last week we drove around Little Rock for a short time — and were amazed at the new homes there. The same thing is true at LarchXvood, at Lester and other Lyon County communities. This building, we suspect, is a demonstration that small-town community life is being revived greatly, that more and more people are finding that living in these communities offers advantages — no matter where the home owners may work — or where they did work during their earning years. Good living is found in small rural communities.