Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 31, 1974, Page 8

Publication: Cedar Rapids Gazette March 31, 1974

Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - March 31, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 'More? You want MORE?’ Editorial Page Sunday, March 31, 1974 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 urban renewal proposal last week but had a “no” shoved down their throats by minority rule. It was 5,123 to 4,434 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 $6 million bond issue — for street and utility work and a parking ramp to let a $24 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 ownership of property (and hence propers-tax paying) is more important in adjudging public projects than are people. The principle that holds it up that two “no” voters equal three “yes” voters in the value of their voice on public issues. Every person voting “no,” 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 Iowans 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 Note 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. ‘Spoiled’ 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-priee pinch intensifies, 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 newspapers). “W e 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 percent) in the United States in 1973 were lower than those in Germany, France, Britain, Japan and Sweden.” In essence, Thimmesch contended. we Americans have been spoiled by the lowest food prices in the industrialized world and-—no matter who’s in office—we must realize that we are going to pay more for fo'id. 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 Iowan, might have added—had space allowed—is 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 dropping 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 Cart Bibi**, jr. Thus* who reach the age of HNI sometimes* 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 that! All vault! lire latin but na ne vault! he Henjnmin franklin Protecting special interests Vote-money wrongs hang on By Roscoe Drummond I17ASHINGTON — The case for federal VVfinancing 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 ha\e 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 corruption out of presidential and congressional campaigns. They are 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 same—a 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-state” ways to combat it. When I was still a young man, mixing with the early Bohemians who came to 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 at that tune in Bohemia Bohemia was a state of the Austrian government. The wording was in German. Today it is Czechoslovakia and under the rule of the I S S K. We have adopted some fine things in Amenia, such as social security, medicare for the aged, and veterans benefits. . , But there is still much trouble. It is with the police. Today it is so There are two essentials for campaign-financing reform: I One side should not have an inordinate 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 rampant in 1972. Some degree of federal financing will be needed if private contributions are to be kept to small amounts. Special-interest money, seeking to elicit favors or to be shielded from unfavorable 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 rn 'N : % JAwLrn Special-interest money dominates presidential campaign financing. It is true that some 900,990 contributors gave SHK) or less to the Nixon campaign. That sounds pretty nice. But less than 2 percent of the contributors put up about 9K percent of the SWI 2 million taken in by the 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. Ills 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 campaign spending. At the same time, though, he proposes a $15,600 limit on campaign giving lf 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 atstut 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 essential requirements of reform cited above. Anything less would be pseudoreform, intolerable in the post-Watergate era. Los Angeles Times Syndicate easy to rob a tavern, filling station or supermarket in a matter of minutes and lie gone with a car. Young women disappear off the streets, and our President asks us to share our cars for rides to save on fuel. It is time to write to our congressmen in support of a system that would help to catch criminals by requiring that people < IB- to 65-year-old males) carry identity cards showing one s picture (in color, front and side), with a record telling who he is and for whom he is working But on mount of the long hair and full beards worn today, fingerprints would have to lie on it, too. John K Brast ka 315 Fifth avenue SEElevators To the Editor: I noted an editorial on KCRG-TV about elevator safety laws Yes, elevators do need to be safely inspected, arid laws should lie passed to protect the people. 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 elderly 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 attendant who knows how to handle nearly all emergencies. This would employ some elderly people who can still lie useful and would appreciate the jobs They wouldn't have to lie 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 iii my arms. Those electric eyes might lie fine, but it doesn't always mean that a little one only three feet tall can be seen by an eve higher up. They’re mechanical and not infallible. . , , Mrs Lav em M Gibbs Route I, Palo No style to go out of, nothing to recapture Nostalgia for the '7Os someday? What IS there? By Russell Baker NEW YORK — I have decided not to lie nostalgic about the 192(1*, despite the decree issued by Paramount to abet the selling of ‘‘The Great Gatsby”. It is not that I lack the style for looking rakish in a Robert Redford “Gatsby” suit, although I do; nor that I dislike listening to “Dardanella” played on the Victrola, although I do; nor that I am so tired of memoirs about what Ernest Hemingway said to 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 town saloons that are loving reproductions of 19th-century English pubs. A friend and I had gone there after weighing two other possibilities One was a spaghetti house that was a loving reproduction of a turn-of-the-century Neai>uinan trattoria, and the other was a steak house that was a lovely reproduction of an American saloon circa 1H90 Russell Baker “What do you feel like feeling nostalgic about at lunch?” I had asked my friend “Shall it be 1H90 America, 19th-century England or Naples in the good old day#?” We ( hose England and had warm ale and phony hamburgers, and watched ourselves in the mirrors that had “Watney’s Ale” etched on the glass. I was thinking sentimentally about Kind Edward VII, which set me thinking, for some reason, about the picture of his father, Prince Albert, which appeared on Prince Albert pipe tobacco cans in the 1930a, and this started me feeling nostalgic for the 1930s It was confusing and, of course, silly for a man of 1974 to turn nostalgic for the 1930s in a setting designed to make him nostalgic for 19th-century England. In my unhappiness, I suddenly caught a sad glimpse of the future There would come a day when Americans would want to wallow in nostalgia for the 1970s, and what, wtial in the name of heaven, would they seize upon as artifacts of our time? We, who live in a world turning almost entirely into nostalgic rehearsals of the past, would be represented in that nostalgia hungering future by what'' By lovingly reproduced copies of lovingly reproduced Neapolitan trattorias? By lovingly reproduced copies of lovingly reproduced 1H90 saloons? Nostalgia for our time, unless tins madness were stopped, would be nothing but a nostalgia for nostalgia If Paramount has its way, our children, when time comes for them to look back sentimentally upon us, will not In* soupy about us al all, but about us imitating Robert Redford dressed as a man of 50 years ago. I can think 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, the electronic garage door opener, another. The Volkswagen, perhaps The street mugging What a sorry picture we shall cut if the people of 1985, say, must go to lunch in a lovingly reproduced airline-coach seat and feed on a lovingly reproduced airline short rib* and peas plastic tray. Even the Volkswagen will hardly la- in a class with the flivvers that go with nostalgia for the 1920*. the rumble seated coupe left to posterity by the 1930s, or the mighty Hudson which people crave in nostalgia yearning for the 195th (I am assured, hard though it is to believe, that there are people who are nostalgic for the 195(h ) Reproducing our clothing styles will produce a bleak era for the fashion industry, for our style is utter stylelesa-ness Anyone who has spent an hour in a large airport recently and watched Americans come and go by the thousand has s»s’n the death of style How dreary our sty lelessness will look when set lieside the dashing fashions worn iii the 1920s and 1939s even by persons of modest income One explanation for our incessant sentimental journeys back to the 1920* may Im* a yearning for style — jauntiness, 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 taste, which creates style And so, although u Robert Redford “Gatsby” suit would certainly improve the American landscape in 1974, it must Im- resisted iii the higher cause of giving I9H3 something tie tier to remember about us I am not sure what It ought to Im*, but even white tie and tails would be preferable to what we now have on the streets at lunch time, loaded for lovingly reproduced old England and other points back iii time Ute yolk 11nt** tut (KOAftATE -mo toBlack nation flirting with dictatorship By William F. Buckley, jr. NAIROBI - Well, now, I have a tale to tell. There I was at the studio in Nairobi, waiting for the foreign minister to do an hour’s television on the theme, “Black Africa Looks at White Africa”. Dr. Njeroge Mungai (he is a medical doctor, licensed to practice after completing studies at Stanford, < alif., and internship in New \ ork < ity) had said he wanted to talk to me briefly liefore the tajM* began to roll, and I saki sure. He was a half-hour late, having met with the President — his boss, his personal 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, did you want to discuss in advance of the program? Well, he said, as foreign minister I would lie 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 Angola. “Those are not states,” Dr Mungai corrected me: “they are colonies — white colonies.” All right, I said, but the argument against these states is that their policies are racist in foundation, but tbw requires us to proin* definitions, and in order to do that, it becomes necessary ta probe the policies of other African stales* that might bt1 called racist in character. But he declined. Even to decline (hmm} the televised exchange to answer such questions; Such questions were simply not to la* put to him. “Well,” I said sadly. “ifs your country. But it’s my program.” So I scruboed the show. Bright idea. Could he suggest a prominent Kenyan journalist or academician who would be able to discuss freely the policies of other African countries.’ Nobody in Kenya — Dr. Ylun-gai smiled, but there was 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 were, after all, sitting in government studios And we bad been told, in almost as many words, that nobody iii 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 mem liers are all Kenyatta’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 bird Chalfont, a former Inlier 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, ami any settler found guilty of it, even in the form of a joke, was liable to lie 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, disparaging of the leadership of Mzee. In parliament recently, an assistant minister demanded that the Imal BBC facility should Im* dosed down “until the BBC comes down on its knees, begging for it to Im* reopened." And Vice-president Moi said that foreigners “have nothing to teach Kenyans . . In fact if anything, Kenya can teach 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 ‘streaking,’ running naked everywhere,’’ he said scornfully, lo which I suppose Lord Chalfont might have responded thai the streakers are only going about iii what many Afrit ans consider their native dress. But that would sound invidious, and it is important to m all that Ford Chalfont said that it is his opinion that Kenyatta la a giM*d mail, perhaps even a great man. But that Kenya is slipping, perhaps unconsciously, into the habit of dictatorship Washington Hor SyrnJn ut* Jomo Kenyatta ;

  • Alice B Toklas
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Ford Chalfont
  • Gertrude Stein
  • Nick Thimmesch
  • Njeroge Mungai
  • Prince Albert
  • Robert Redford
  • Roscoe Drummond
  • Russell Baker
  • William F. Buckley

Share Page

Publication: Cedar Rapids Gazette

Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Issue Date: March 31, 1974

RealCheck