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Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - March 31, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 'More? You want Editorial Page Swxfey, MorchS 1, 1V74 '18fl People's choice discredited THE LATEST Iowa community to take a rooking by the state's repressive 60-percent bond-issue law is Iowa City, where the people voted "yes" to an ur- ban renewal proposal last week but had a "no" shoved down their throats by minority rule. It was to in favor of the plan, 53.6 percent to 46.4, a solid edge of 689 votes to the good, an unmistakable difference of 7.2 percent between the "yes" and the "no." But the million bond issue for street and utility work and a parking ramp to let a million program go ahead on downtown land already cleared and set for unified development by a single-package builder fell apart because the law let losers win. The Iowa requirement for 60- percent approval of most public bond issues stands on the indefensible premise that own- ership of property (and hence property-tax paying) is more im- portant in adjudging public projects than are people. The principle that holds it up is that two "no" voters equal three "yes" voters in the value of their voice on public issues. Every person voting in other words, has half again the worth of every citizen who favors public works through tax-based bonds. Why Iowa should cling to this inequity in times of one-man, one-vote justice must have answers in a blend of selfishness, gross apathy and ignorance. The clear effect, repeatedly in city, school and county opportunities for growth and betterment, is minority paralysis of movement that a full, fair majority approves. What too few lowans appear to realize is how unnecessary and unusual their handicap is. Thirty- nine states either let a straight majority decide bond issues or demand no public vote on them at all. Iowa's self-stifling way is matched or paralleled in only ten. Cedar Rapids has experienced too many gougings from this folly in the last few years. If cheated- out majorities in other towns would get incensed enough about it finally to join in pushing for reform of this undemocratic law, sooner or later everyone could get a fair shake at the polls. 'Spoiled1 consumers IF AGRICULTURE Secretary Butz's name ever.is given to a law of causal progression, it probably will be assigned to this one: As the food-price pinch in- tensifies, so grows the volume of statistical pap spooned out as explanation. Curiously, a lot of ag-depart- ment stats showed up the other day in the syndicated column of Nick Thimmesch (in other news- "We all are aware of how food prices went up 21 percent last year..." wrote Thimmesch. "What we aren't always mindful of is that in terms of disposable income food expenditures (17 per- cent) in the United States in 1973 were lower than those in Ger- many, France, Britain, Japan and Sweden." In essence, Thimmesch con- tended, we Americans have been spoiled by the lowest food prices in the industrialized world and- matter who's in must realize that we are going to pay more for food. The columnist also quoted a grocery industry spokesman as saying Americans have been spoiled by low food prices, at the expense of the farmer. What Thimmesch, a former lowan, might have space that Americans have the edge on other consumers because they live next to the world's best farmland which is worked by the most efficient farmers and machinery ever. One needn't be spoiled to regret the slippage of that advantage. Moreover, grocery-chain voices are not the most objective sources when discussing zooming prices, even when they speak charitably of farmers. There are six levels between farm and consumer at which meat prices (for example) can be jacked up beyond propriety; the retail level is one of them. It would be a gross mistake for American consumers to follow the agriculture department's advice and "get used" to paying a greater percentage of disposable income for food. (That portion, by the way, exceeded the "average" 17 percent quoted last year by the agriculture department.) Once inured, shoppers would not notice that higher prices owe not so much to fancy processing and overseas demand as to unfair price-hiking in the complex farm- to-consumer chain. No better example of price irregularities exists than in the beef industry today. As noted in a senate letter to the Federal Trade Commission, cosigned by Iowa Senators Hughes and Clark, retail prices for beef remain at near record heights while the price cattlemen receive is drop- ping to a point where they no longer can operate profitably. No amount of agriculture department blandishment can minimize such critical food market conditions or cancel the need for protesting them. Isn't It the Truth? By Carl Riblet, ir. Those who reach the age of 100 some- times reveal their secret for achieving such a long life like not playing around with stray girls and boys, no boozing, never getting excited or angry and working hard from dawn to dusk. Imagine! A hundred years of Alt would live long but none would be Benjamin Franklin vi Protecting special interests Vote-money wrongs hang on By Roscoe Drummond WASHINGTON The case for federal Financing of federal elections is stronger than I thought. Too bad that everyone having doubts about it didn't listen to President Nixon's recent speech against it. He must have turned many critics of federal financing into supporters because of the weakness of his arguments. The President offers some plausible halfway reforms to take money corrup- tion out of presidential and congressional campaigns. Theyare inadequate because they seek to banish the massive fund-raising abuses which were perpetrated in the 1972 campaigns by relying on. the same kind of financing reforms which have failed in the past and egregiously failed in 1972. Now the President proposes just a little more of the lower ceiling on campaign gifts, a prohibition of very large donations in cash and some stricter rules for accounting. Is there really any doubt that ingenious and unscrupulous fund-raising types of 1972 would topple these new fragile barriers the way-the front four of the Miami Dolphins, would run through a high school football team? People's forum 'Identify' To the Editor: Today the media are showing much about crime. There was always crime, but now instead seeing less of it, we are troubled with more. We know how other countries handle it, but in this free country we will have to adopt some "police-stale" ways to combat it. When I was still a young man, mixing with the early Bohemians who came lo Cedar Rapids, I was shown a person's identity folder with his picture in it. The young man said, "I will not need it here in America." It was used al that time in Bohemia. Bohemia was a state of (he Auslrian government. The wording was in German. Today it is Czechoslovakia and under the rule of the U.S.S.R. We have adopted some fine things in America, such as social security, medicare for the aged, and veterans benefits. But there is still much trou- ble. It is with the police. Today it is so There are two essentials for cam- paign-financing reform: 1. One side should not have an inor- dinate financial advantage. Federal financing or a mix of federal and private financing would correct this. 2. Special-interest money intended to buy a piece of the government, whether from big unions or big trade associations or big corporations or wealthy individual donors, should not be allowed to taint the democratic process. Such fund-raising, 'much of it secret and illegal, was ram- pant in 1972. Some degree of federal financing will be needed if private con- tributions are to be kept to small amounts. Special-interest money, seeking to elicit favors or to be shielded from un- favorable government actions, flows to both sides in any election. Sometimes the same big donor will give to opposing candidates to have an'in, whoever wins. Roscoe Drummond easy to rob a tavern, filling station or supermarket in a matter of minutes and be gone with a car. Young women disappear off Ihe streets, and asks us to share our cars for rides to save on fuel. It is time to write lo our congressmen in support of a system that would help to catch criminals by requiring that people (16- to 65-year-old males) carry identity cards showing one's picture (in color, front and with a record telling who he is and for whom he is working. But on account of the long hair and full beards worn today, fingerprints would have to be on it, too. John E. Prastka 315 Fifth avenue SE Elevators To the Editor: I noted an editorial on KCRG-TV about elevator safety laws. Yes, elevators do need to be safely-inspected, and laws should be passed to protect the people. Special-interest money dominates presidential campaign financing. It is true that some contributors gave or less to the Nixon campaign. That sounds pretty nice. But less than 2 per- cent of the contributors put up about 98 percent of the million taken in by Ihe 1972 Nixon fund-raisers some of it illegally, much of it concealed until dragged out by Common Cause and others. The President opposes any degree of federal financing. His arguments against federal financing seem to me to support it. One is that it might be a violation of the Constitution to put any limit on cam- paign spending. At the same time, though, he proposes a limit on campaign giving. If it is constitutional to limit campaign giving, it would'hardly be unconstitutional to limit campaign spending. The election process is part of the governing process in any democratic society. There is, therefore, nothing improper about federal financing of the election process any more than federal financing of the governing process. Perhaps a mix of government and private financing would meet the two es- sential requirements of reform cited above. Anything less would be pseudo- reform, intolerable in the post-Watergate era. Los Angeles Times Svndicole Have you ever been in a department store trying to get a stroller onto an elevator, only to get it pinched because no one knew how to run it? Or seen an el- derly person caught trying to get on or off? Or someone with bundles and small children and one either on or off and away go the doors? Think how much safer it would be if the law required that no elevator may run unless it is operated by a trained atten- dant who knows how lo handle nearly all emergencies. This would employ some elderly people who can still be useful and would appreciate the jobs. They wouldn't have to be paid a great deal. In fact, it would increase business too. I, for one, refuse to trade where I get caught, especially with my four sons along and bundles in my arms. Those electric eyes might be fine, but it doesn't always mean that a litlle one only three feet tall can be seen by an eye higher up. They're mechanical and not infallible. Mrs. Lavern M. Gibbs Route 1, Palo No style to go out of, nothing to recapture Nostalgia for the '70s someday? What IS there? By Russell Baker NEW YORK -1 have decided not to be nostalgic about the 1920s, despite the decree issued by Paramount to abet the selling of "The Great It is not that I lack the style for looking rakish in a Robert Redford "Gatsby" suit, although I do; nor that I dislike lis- tening lo "Dardanella" played on the Viclrola, although I do; nor that I am so tired of memoirs about what Ernest Hemingway said lo Picasso on first coming to tea at Gertrude Stein's that I never want to hear the name Alice B. Toklas again, although I am. A nobler Impulse drives me. It came upon me at lunch a few weeks ago in one of those brand-new in-lown saloons that are loving reproductions of 19th-century English pubs. A friend and I had gone there after weighing Iwo olher possibilities. One was a spaghetti house that was a loving reproduction of a turn-of-thc-century Neapolitan the other was a steak house that was a lovely reproduc- tion of an American saloon circa Russell Baker "What do you feel like feeling nostalgic about at I had asked my friend. "Shall it be America, 19th-century England or Naples in the good old We chose England and had warm ale and phony hamburgers, and watched our- selves in the mirrors that had "Watncy's Ale" elched on Ihe glass. I was thinking sentimentally about Kind Edward VII, which set me Dunking, for some reason, about (he picture of his father, Prince Albert, which appeared on I'rince Alberl plpe-lobacco cans in the 1930s, and this started mo feeling nostal- gic for the 1930s. It was confusing and, of course, silly for a man of 1974 to turn nostalgic for the 1930s in a selling designed tn make him nostalgic for 19th- century England. In my unhappiness, I suddenly caught a sad glimpse of Ihe future. There would come a day when Americans would want to wallow in nostalgia for the 1970s, and what, what in the name of heaven, would (hey seize upon as arlifacls of our time? We, who live in a world turning almost entirely inlo nostalgic rehearsals of the past, would be represented In that nos- talgia-hungering future by what? By lovingly reproduced copies of lovingly reproduced Neapolitan trattorias? By lovingly reproduced copies of lovingly reproduced saloons? Nostalgia for our lime, unless this madness were stopped, would be nothing but a nostalgia'for nostalgia. If Paramount has ils way, our children, when time comes for Ilicm lo look back sentimentally upon us, will not be soupy about us al all, but about us Imitating Robert Bedford dressed as a man of 50 years ago. I can Ihink of only three or four things so distinctively indigenous to the 1970s that they are certain to be revived by a nostalgic posterity. The airline meal Is one; Ihe electronic garage-door opener, another. The Volks- wagen, perhaps. The street mugging. What a sorry picture we shall cut if (he nt'oplc of 1985, say, must go lo lunch in a lovingly reproduced airline-coach scat and feed on a lovingly reproduced airline short-ribs-and-pcas plaslic tray. Even the Volkswagen will hardly be In a class with the flivvers lhat go with noslalgia for the 1920s, the rumble-sealed coupe left to posterity by Ihe 1930s, or Ihe mighty Hudson which people crave In nostalgia yearning for the 1950s. (I am assured, hard though it is tn believe, lhat there are people who are nostalgic for [he 1950s.) Reproducing our clollilnff styles will produce a bleak era for (he fashion In- dustry, for our style Is uller styleless- ness. Anyone who has spent nn hour In a large airport recently and watched Americans come and go by the thousand has seen Ihe death of style. How dreary our stylelessness will look when set beside Ihe dashing fashions worn in the 1920s and 1930s even by persons of modest income. One explanation for our incessant sen- timental journeys back to (he 1920s may be a yearning for style -jaunlincss, elegance, rakishness, which the 1920s had, and which we have lost for many reasons, among them the curious notion that freedom of self-expression requires an assault on standards of laste, which creates style. And so, although a Robert Redford "Gatsby" suit would certainly improve the American landscape In 1974, It must be resisted In (he higher cause of giving 1985 something better to remember about us. 1 am not sure what It ought lo be, but even white lie arid (alls would bo preferiiblc lo what we now have on Ihe streets at lunch time, headed for lovingly reproduced old England and other polnls back In lime. Ntw York Tlnxi Strvlci Black nation flirting with dictatorship By William F. Buckley, jr. NAIROBI Well, now, I have a (ale to tell. There I was at the studio in Nairobi, waiting fur the foreign minister to do an hour's television on the theme, "Black Africa I-ooks at While Dr. Njoroge Munyai (he is a medical doctor, licensed to practice after completing studies at Stanford. Calif., ami internship in New York City) had said he wanted to talk to me briefly before the tape began to roll, and I said sure. He was a half-hour late, having met with the President his boss, his per- sonal patient, and Kenya's god and he sat down easily and smilingly in the waiting room, and we exchanged pleasantries. What, I said finally, looking a little apprehensively at the clock, dill you want to discuss in advance of the program? Well, he said, as foreign minister I would be very embarrassed if you were to get into the subject of Nixon and Watergate. No problem, I said. Anything else? Well, he said, as foreign minister I couldn't criticize any other African state or its leaders or its policies. We were there, of course, to criticize white Africa, which is to say South Africa, Rhodesia, Mozambique, and An- gola, "Those are not Dr. Mungai corrected me: "they are colonies white colonies." All right, I said, but the ar- gument against these slates is that their policies are racist in foundation, but this requires us to probe definitions, and in order to do that, it becomes necessary to probe the policies of other African states that might be called racist in character. But he declined. Even to decline during the televised exchange to answer such questions: Such questions were simply not to be put to him. I said sadly, "it's your country. But it's' my program." So I scrubbed the show. Bright idea; Could he suggest a prominent Kenyan journalist or academician who would be able to dis- cuss freely the policies of other African countries? Nobody in Kenya Dr. Mun- gai smiled, but a touch of steel there .would be .willing to criticize another African country. I got the picture, and exchanged a glance with my producer. We all, sitting in government studios. And we had been told, in almost'as'many words, that nobody in Kenya would, from that studio, criticize another government in Africa. Things here in Nairobi are to be sure unusually touchy just now. The other day, the Kenya parliament, whose members are all Kenyalta's men there is no parliamentary.opposition struck out against a television profile shown the day before in Britain of Jomo Kenyatta. The profile was done by Lord Chalfont, a former Labor, minister, who criticized in language entirely moderate the imperial habits to which President Kenyatta increasingly is given. "Worship of 'Mzee' the Father (has become) a national habit and even receives legislative sanctions. Any disrespect for his person has been made an offense, and any settler found guilty of it, even in the form of a joke, was liable to be expelled from Kenya." From all of which one deduces that a public discussion inquiring into why the President of Kenya does not criticize racist policies committed by black men could be interpreted as well, dis- paraging of the leadership of Mzee. In parliament recently, an assistant minister demanded that the local BBC facility should be closed down "until the BBC comes down on its knees, begging for it to be reopened." And Vice-president Moi said that foreigners "have nothing to teach Kenyans. In fact if anything, Kenya can leach them many lessons. Contrary to what some people try to make us believe, the African way of civilization is the best." He was talking about the streaking craze. "These foreigners go run- ning naked he said scorn- fully, to which I suppose Lord Chalfont might have responded that the streakers are only going about in what many Africans consider their native dress. But that would sound invidious, and it Is important to recall that Lord Chalfont said that it is his opinion that Kenyatta is a good man, perhaps even a great man. But that Kenya is slipping, perhaps un- consciously, into the habit of dicta- torship. Woshlngton Slor Syndicate Jomo Konyatla
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