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Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - April 7, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa Editorial Page Sunday, April 7, 1974 Nixon-tax splash: How it looks is crucial Insights Tax-whack T THE END of a buildup I spanning several months in the shadow of a past vice- president's tax-prodded leap out of office, a joint congressional committee decided that President Nixon should pay the treasury some in back taxes. The Internal Revenue Service figured that would suffice. The President agreed to fork over. That undoubtedly is not the last that anyone will hear about the case, and it is still too soon to tell what influence this settlement will have on other matters bearing on the Nixon future. But a few points come through strongly right away: In view of Mr. Nixon's promise from the outset to abide by what- ever the congressional tax study group recommended in his case, he really had no choice except to pay in full, despite the bill's im- mensity. To fight it would have marked him as a breaker of his word a devastating blow on top of all the other trouble currently afoot. To keep his word could bolster feelings in the people and in congress that the price for everything surrounding Water- gate is close to paid. The choice was easy, in that light. Considering the voluntary- payment step and the internal revenue decision not to press a tax-fraud possibility inherent in this kind of case, the outcome also has demolished demolished Wil- bur Mills' contention that the tax report would, in effect, push Mr. Nixon to the edge of leaving office. Nothing but a tax-crime taint could do it. As of now, that danger has dissolved. Naturally, the magnitude of error and great residual doubt in many minds on how it came about will keep the President in trouble with large segments of the public and of congress. The tax jolt has become a chapter in the story, but by no means its dramatic end. Cynics, dupes and IT IS A SIGN of strangely blended cynicism arid credulity, perhaps, that so much of the public either takes Patty Hearst's kidnaping as a put-up job resulting from her own collusion or takes her recent statement of defection to the other side as true and voluntary. This much seems to be unar- guably true: When people from the Symbionese Liberation Army took the San Francisco publisher's daughter from her campus residence two months ago, they dragged her away struggling and screaming. Bullets sprayed the scene, and Miss Hearst's fiance was. injured. Her statements through the early jveeks of ran- som-paying smacked .of pressure on herself and voiced personal fear. Her latest message turned it all around, with: "I have changed grown. I've become conscious and can never go back to the life we led before." To believe that she helped en- gineer this from the start is to disbelieve the SLA's initial threats, that it would "carry out the execution of your daughter." To believe it takes as empty words the warning that a cross-up on the food-ransom deal would mean "the life and the blood of Patricia Hearst will be upon your hands only." To believe that this was all a sham is to dismiss the new Sym- bionese assertion that "corporate enemies of the people will be shot on sight" (three victim-prospects listed by Conversely, to 'accept Miss Academic question t Hearst's avowal she has "changed" or "grown" to join the SLA in its destructive effort is to disbelieve the theory that she act- ed from the start in concert with the terrorists. If it is true indeed, incredibly, that millionaire's daughter Pa- tricia Hearst has voluntarily changed sides to "fight" for SLA ideals, this is true too: No one gets arrested simply, for professing SLA support. She has confessed to no crime and has committed none. She is free (if what the SLA maintains is true) to go home to her parents, and visit, and talk, or meet them anywhere on neutral ground, and then freely return, as far as the law is concerned, to her SLA chums. If she does not do that of her own free will, immune to arrest or coercion, a strong presumption follows: The SLA is lying, and she really can't go where she pleases, and the words she spoke on tape of new devotion to the SLA were lies coerced from Patty Hearst through the same physical force and the same threats of death that have characterized everything else in the SLA's disgusting drivel as to better lives for "the people." This interpretation of the terrorists' design and Patty Hearst's entanglement is still the only one that squares with com- mon sense, the principles of human nature and the record of events unfolding now for.two solid months. Regrettably, her chances to come out alive and tell the truth diminish as the chances grow, in justice, that the SLA itself will come out dead. By Don Oakley STUDENTS, or at least a bunch of them who were queried at Iowa State university, have some curious ideas about what "academic freedom" means. According to a report on a survey by sociologists Dwight G. Dean and Brent T. Bruton in Human Behavior magazine, of 606 students enrolled in their Introduc- tory sociology classes, only 12 could write an acceptable one-sentence definition of the term. All the rest thought it meant "freedom for students, not faculty." No less than 419 of the students thought academic freedom meant freedom from required courses. Numerous others said it was the right to attend the college of their choice or the right to personal off- campus freedom or the right to have a say in the hiring of teachers. One student came up with what is perhaps the definitive "undefinition" of academic freedom by writing that it is "the freedom to study what I want, when I want to, if I want to." If students don't understand the term, the sociologists ask, "what can we expect of (he general Well, the general public has a more than acceptable record in this matter of permitting the untrammeled pursuit of truth in the groves of academe, despite some rather extreme expressions of that freedom, by both faculty and students, on some campuses in recent years. A more pertinent question may be, if these 606 less 12 students at Iowa State and their counterparts elsewhere haven't learned what academic freedom means by the time they leave college, what can the general public expect of them? NEW ELITE. The story is no doubt apocryphal, but one plumber is said to require his potential customers to submit their requests in writing. All en- tries are judged on their neatness and originality. At any rate, plumbers are invariably cited as an example of how those offering skilled services have become the new elite in our society. Some of them earn as much as a year yet you can't get one to make a housecall. Why (his should be so is a mystery. After all, how many limes a year or a decade, for lhat matter does (he average homeowner require (he services of a plumber? There aren't that many new houses being built to keep them all busy. It's a mystery, and if plumbers know the answer, they're not telling anyone. Except maybe their doctors. Newspaper Enterprise Assn. Outlook: 'Millions will see attempt to cheat1 By Tom Wicker VTEW YORK Maybe Gerald Warren, A i the White House spokesman, is right about the public attitude toward Richard Nixon's tax problems. Nixon has promised to pay the more than the Internal Revenue Service says hs owes in back taxes, and Warren said that he thought "most people in this country will consider it a closed case." Well, it is true that neither the IRS nor the staff of the joint committee on inter- nal revenue taxation, which also found Nixon heavily in arrears, alleged any fraudulent action on his part. It also is true that thousands of taxpayers every year are audited by the IRS and are made to pay more because of overzealous deductions nothing unusual about that. From here, nevertheless. Warren sounds like a man whistling past the graveyard. Richard Nixon, after all, is the President of the United States. He is under the heavy threat of impeachment already. And he did not owe a few thous- dand or even tens of thousands of dollars, but nearly a half-million. It may well be, for instance, that the absence of a fraud allegation and the promised repayment by Nixon make it unlikely that the house judiciary com- mittee will include a tax evasion charge in any impeachment resolution it may write. But that does not mean that Nixon's tax returns will not play a major part in the impeachment matter. Income taxes, after all, are a burden with which every American all but a handful of very rich and very poor is intimately acquainted. The report on Nixon's tax debt came just as millions of them were making out thejr own returns against the April 15 deadline. Most of them are doing so honestly and with a high degree of accuracy. Many of them know that Nixon's problem was caused not only by disallowed deductions, but also by his failure to report income from several sources. Whether or not they think Nixon had an intent to defraud, will they not think that a President, particularly one with an array of private attorneys and accoun- tants as well as the entire federal ap- paratus at his beck and call, could hardly get in arrears without cutting a lot of corners and stretching a lot of points? The guess here is that millions of tax- payers will think just that and that millions more will believe that Nixon tried to cheat, whether the IRS charged him with it or not. To the extent that those public attitudes make themselves felt in congress, and are shared by members of the house, it is that much more likely lhat Nixon will be impeached on any other charges that the judiciary committee may bring. Nixon's general reputation for honesty and truthfulness is bound to be an un- spoken issue in impeachment proceed- ings, whatever the charges; and so is his political standing. His tax problems, at the very least, surely have not improved either his reputation or his political position. New York Times Service News item: Birds, in flocks of millions, have been plaguing areas in the East. People's forum Mid-in co me needy To the Editor: The Gazette's March 30 editorial, "No- need made a good point. The need for financial aid to middle-in- come college students has become very apparent to me and my family, since I am a high school senior planning lo enter college next fall. We have found that a real problem does indeed exist. I can remember hearing; stories as I grew up lhat led me to believe thai good scholarship was handsomely rewarded in (he form of monetary grants and awards. As 1 began investigating different colleges, however, I found lhat most financial aid is based strictly on "need." Another View with most of the money naturally going to students from low-income families. The assurance that a slraight-A student can go to any college he or she wishes turned out to be a myth. The same sizable bills come regularly, and if the student is from a middle-income family, offers of financial aid are often inadequate. Many times a scholarship based on academic excellence is the only chance a middle- income studenl has to get the kind of education he or she wants. Regrettably, such scholarships are few and many deserving sludents receive no assistance whatsoever. I agree with The Gazelle's opinion: Middle-income families need help. Scholarships based on achievement offer aid regardless of income. Without them, the sludent's choice is severely limited. Sara Johnson 1241 Thirtieth street SE Justice? "Sergeanl Higgins of the flreaken squad reporting To the Editor: It is becoming increasingly difficult to understand and justify our present sys- tem of justice. In recent weeks, in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, courts have been preparing to turn convicted murderers out onto the streets. From the news ac- counts of this activity, these decisions have not been based on a determination of guilt or innocence but instead on whether or not the game was played by the rules. In one case it appears thai evidence was gathered without a search warrant. (Someone fnrgol to say, "Captain, may This may be cause to arrest someone for breaking and entering but mil cause lo turn a convicted murderer louse on society. If (he evidence was there, so is liie guill. In another case statements made llirnugh the news media indicate lhat Ihc Repayment viewed as resolve to hang tough By Clifton Daniel WASHINGTON "Richard Nixon in- vested half a million dollars in the presidency last night." That was one of the remarks heard in the cloakroom of the house of represen- tatives after Nixon had announced that he would pay the back taxes and interest assessed against him by the Internal Revenue Service. The question Washington was asking was whether the President's investment would pay off. Some foes as well as friends seemed to think it might at least to the extent that the President had neutralized the tax evasion issue by his prompt decision to pay up. "The President's reaction was a very good one and very said Mor- timer Caplin, who was commissioner of internal revenue under two Democratic Presidents. "The President's conduct in accepting the IRS judgment is going to counteract some of the adverse crit- icism." "I don't think this is going to change the situation one way or the remarked Sen. James R. Buckley, New York Republican and conservative, who startled the White House and the country on March 19 by calling for the President's resignation. A dissenting opinion came from Robert S. Strauss, chairman of the Democratic national committee. "I think it has hurt him (President Nixon) very, very Strauss said. "I can't see even any room for a backlash of sympathy for him." There was little, if any, support for the view that the President should have stood and fought, although there was some feeling that he had been treated harshly by the IRS and the staff of the congres- sional joint committee on internal revenue taxation. The more prevalent opinion was that Nixon had good advice, that "he did the right thing for and, in any event he had no alternative but to pay Ihe extra taxes assessed on his 1969-1972 income. He had invited the committee to inves- tigate his tax returns and had promised to abide by its decision. "The most important thing is that the President kept his Ken son, the White House director of com- munications said today. Overpayment? Even before the report of the joint committee's staff was issued last Wed- nesday, the advice of various White House advisers had been to pay up whether the tax delinquency was or as one of them said. Another White House official said the President would pay far more than he legally owes, that he had disregarded the advice of his lawyers to go to court, and had foregone the remedies available to any ordinary taxpayer. "He took one tremendous financial wallop a lot more than his lawyers feel he really said George Bush, suspect was "coerced into leading the authorities to the body." In at least one mind this appears to mean thai the man is innocent. Again, if someone violated a law then arrest lhat someone for violat- ing that law. Using the logic of these judges, two wrongs do make a right. Murder is one wrong, a procedural error is another wrong, so let the guy loose and everything is O.K. (except for the victims, and It's not profitable to champion their cause because they are If in either of these cases there is some reasonable doubt of guilt or innocence then by all means get it sorted out. Bui lo give freedom to two murderers because of a technicality or another's wrongdoing is ridiculous. For one man, any one man, to be empowered lo arbitrarily do this is equally ridiculous. A jury determined guilt, so a jury should determine in- nocence, but first there should be reasonable doubl as to either. If Iowa had capital punishment for this lype of crime, Ihesc men would not be around for us to, consider. We would simply proceed from day to day believing that all of our judgeships were filled with competenl people. Heaven forbid. Kennelh H. Lee Route 2, Ml. Vernon Toughen up To Ihe Editor: In view of the number nf unsolved murders in (he Cedar Rapids area, and crime in general in Ihe United Stales, it's lime we look a good hard look at Ihe laws dealing with crime and our judicial and penal systems. Laws originally designed lo protect the innocent and punish the guilty have not The price of greatness is responsibility. Winston Churchill chairman of the Republican national committee. "No fraud has been alleged, both Democrats and Republicans on the committee have complimented him, and I think the American people will, too." Overcharged? Some members of congress were said to be astonished at some of the expenses charged to the President for example, travel costs for his family and his dog, and improvements on a house (at San Clemente, Calif.) that will be given to the nation. By contrast, Mortimer Caplin, from his vantage point as a tax expert, held that the joint committee staff report was "very sound." "That he said, "is going to be a best seller. It is a great legal analysis of very complicated is- sues." Although the staff report and IRS as- sessment were financially devastating, Nixon's supporters stressed that neither one of them charged the President with tax fraud. That was important because, in their view, the President's tax delinquency cannot be made a cause for impeachment if there was no fraud. Kinship? There were differing opinions on the subtler question of whether the tax mat- ter will make members of the house more disposed to vote for impeachment for other reasons. Strauss thought it would make impeachment "more fashionable." Partisans of the President were not sure. They said it depended on1 how the news of the President's decision to pay his back taxes is presented and received in the country. Will it look as if the President was caught with his hand in the till? Or will it appear that he made an honest mistake and is ready and willing to pay for it? Will taxpayers, who are just now making out their own income tax returns, feel a kinship with taxpayer Nixon, who may have to borrow money for his own taxes? Nixon is apparently willing to bet plus interest that he will win more sympathy than he will lose. That half a million-dollar investment is in- terpreted by Wydler as a measure of Nixon's determination to stay in office, despite a seemingly unending series of political disasters. New York Times Service only failed to do this but have worked in favor nf the guilty, lurning criminals loose to prey on society. Laws now favor the accused so much lhal il's next to im- possible to get a conviction unless Ihe accused confesses or there is an unim- peachable eyewitness. So he is set free to kill, rape, steal, etc., and Ihe society we live in pays (he price. Which is best? Laws that have enough teelh in Ihem to convict and sentence criminals 99 percent of Ihe time and maybe an innocent man 1 percent, or .what we have now, with the innocent paying on both ends of Ihe On one end by taxes lo defend Ihe felon, and on the other end when he is set free to prey on people again. When a doctor removes a cancer by surgery he must remove some of the good flesh lo get all the cancer. By the same token we must nol be afraid lo convict an innocent man 1 percent of the time to gel all Ihe guilty. This may seem like an extreme measure, but it would be necessary if we are to restore respecl for the law and protect law-abiding citizens As a general rule we have good law enforcement, but it is Ihe courts that have tied Ihe hands of the police. Judges who are soft on crime reduce or suspend sentences. We need to revamp our whole judicial system for instance, make judges and parole board members res- ponsible for crimes committed by the felons they parole. How on earth do we expect lo deter crime with a prison system so attractive that prisoners ask Ihe governor lo exlend their sentence and commit repeated of- fenses to stay on the inside? In a sense, Ihe law doesn't punish criminals, it pro- tects them from Ihe part of society lhat would deal wilh them properly. We need lo lake some drastic aclion to deal with Ihese problems now. If we wait much longer it may be too late. Neil Cantonwine Route 2, Vlnton
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