Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - April 21, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Watergate’s variety of rot eats everywhere, among us all
By Norman Cousins
HOW FAR is Watergate from Main street? One wonders. The question that has to be asked is whether Watergate is less a sudden wild aberration than a terrifying reflection and extension of something that has been happening on almost every level of the national life.
In the last two years, corruption scandals have broken out in the police departments of at least a dozen major American cities. There is almost a pattern to the revelations. While in uniform, generally on night duty, police have burglarized stores. Some police have helped to operate drug rings, or have taken hush money from landlords who are in violation of various city ordinances.
Kickback exposes are seldom out of the news, whether with respect to military contracts, or public works projects, or hospitals or schools, or town and village activities. Reports abound about money paid under the table to quash charges or to obtain special favors.
Even on the level of everyday life, the average citizen wonders whom he can trust. If he goes to a hotel, he now finds it necessary to double-check every charge.
Not long ago, some of the most prestigious hotels in New York City were ordered to cease putting false charges on the bills of their guests. Some of the same hotels were also found to be paying hush money to police officers. Twice in the last few months, I discovered overcharges on restaurant checks.
Ideas Insights Judgments Comments
Anyone who wants to have his car or television set repaired dreads the experience, in view of all the stories that regularly appear in the press concerning the unconscionable padding of bills. Similarly, anyone who has taken the trouble to obtain competitive bids for such repairs can testify not just to astounding variations in the estimates but in the descriptions of what is wrong and what has to be fixed.
Home building or renovations or repairs have in too many cases become an experience in costly escalation. Some cases have reached the courts where contractors, operating on a cost-plus basis, have charged for two and three times as much labor as they actually employed.
There is also something of a home-front Watergate about the practice of using chemicals to increase the weight of beef and poultry, most of it in water or unhealthy fat. How many parents know that their children are drinking cola beverages containing caffeine from decaffeinated coffee?
The individual’s capacity to be shocked by corruption or wrongdoing is progressively shrinking. Watergate is sufficiently dramatic and occurs on a high enough level to produce general indignation; but our lives are filled with com-munity-size or personal-size Watergates. This is the real problem. It will not be
changed just by the spectacular ouster of some national officials.
Thucydides’ "History of the Peloponnesian Wars” is as much an account of the attitudes and weaknesses of the Athenians as it is a record of military engagements between Athens and Sparta. One of the most vivid passages in that book is not about a battle but about the decline in standards of basic honesty and integrity among the people themselves.
Citizens not only distrusted their government; they distrusted one another. War adventures, some of which were more the result of arbitrary decisions by political leaders than of genuine causes, figured largely in the erosion of confidence in government and in the spread of distrust in the community at large.
In any event, the unraveling of the moral fiber of the society was a basic factor in the decline of Athenian civilization.
The American people, troubled and apprehensive about the condition of their society and of their place in the world, are now preparing to celebrate their 200th birthday as a nation. That occasion is now only a year and a half away. Special festivities on a grand scale are being planned.
But superfirevvorks are not what the bicentennial of our independence calls for. The year 1976 could be a year of restoration and regeneration. It could be a year in which we try to locate ourselves in time and space, a year to knit ourselves together, to relearn the essential lessons of our past, to find out who we are and to assess the true sources of our strength.
We need to create a basis for the restoration of confidence. We need to redevelop the capacity to hopo and to trust. Most of all, we need to be able to trust our leaders and one another. This is the best way to regain our self-respect.
Lo* Anomie* Time* Syndical#
Such a steal, you couldn 't believe
Oil-‘riches’ route rips ’em off
By Jenkin Lloyd Jones
LAST FALL I got into the oil business. It seemed like a good idea, what with the energy crunch and the price going up and Senator Jackson (I)-Wash.) and Ralph Nader and practically all college professors hollering about what a big rip off the business was.
So when my financial wizard at the hank called up and said he could get me in on one-sixteenth of a gas prospect dow n in Ouachita Baris. I .a , I caught fire
The prospectus, all wrapped up in a neat red imitation leather cover, contained a diagrammatic stratigraphic cross section A-A with a lot of seismic squiggles which I studied carefully. There was a map pointing out how the proposed location was on top of the Sligo sand, the Davis sand and the Pettet Porosity. That was good, it says here.
What I understood best were two pages of enthusiasm by some geologist in Shreveport who thought we might hit on all three sands.So I told my friend at the bank to put me in the pot.
It was a long tooth-pulling. It rained and the rig bogged down and the drill pipe was late. But finally the bit began churning and it went down and down through Mississippi meander muds and the ancient sea beaches and our anticipation steamed as we approached the Sligo. It was more sterile than a frozen virgin.
So we went on bravely down and down to the Davis and — eureka! Gas at last. You could have even lit a cigar with it. On we pressed to the Pettet Porosity, which proved as porous as Hoover dam. That night one of my fellow crapshooters called me on another matter. “Too bad about the well,” he added, parenthetically.
But our promoters were undaunted. They ordered expensive tests. They set casing. They perforated. And finally they opined that the well might yet be saved by hydraulic fracturing, a Tiffany-priced device for breaking tight formations under fantastic pressure.
One of our partners announced he would throw away no more money. But the rest of us said, ‘‘In for a penny, in for a pound,” and picked up his tab. So the hydraulic fracturing worked and we got a modest gas well. The faint-hearted defector wanted back in, and we let him — at a price.
Drunken with this success, I got involved in Stubblefield I, an oil prospect down in Victoria county, Texas. A brilliant Houston geologist had figured that one out and I jead with mounting excitement several pages of his prospectus — all written in Swahili.
What I gathered was that the big boys w ho had picked over the field earlier had stupidly overlooked a fold in the fault.
The best thing about Stubblefield I was that it didn’t keep its backers in suspense. It was just nine days from spud
ding in to plugging. My 15,000 bucks — zap. The fault had folded, or the fold had faulted.
Now my wizard up at the bank has told me what I already know, and that is that a tyro who hits one out of two Is batting above Hank Aaron and is a child of the gods. He figures that lf that Louisiana gasser keeps going flat out at half a million cubic feet a day I’ll get my $17,000 back in about two years, and then it can start eating on the disaster of Stubblefield I.
Maybe four years from now PII begin to show a profit, which is nice because my Uncle Samuel will take dollar-for-dollar and that will help pay the salaries of Sen. Jackson and all those Wisconsin congressmen who are letting everyone in
on what a license to steal the oil business is, and also those New Hampshire solons who like to use gasoline but don’t want
By the time the well gets me in the black, assuming it doesn’t poop out earlier, the depletion allowance will have been killed by congress and oil fields will In* taxed just like wheat fields, which, of course, can produce forever. In the meantime, too, some friend of the common man might roll back the price.
With the oil business being such a big steal and all it’s amazing how1 many Americans have overlooked it. It’s an open-ended rip-off. The woods are full of guys with leases in their hats. The fabulous profits are available to Nader's Raiders, Senator Jackson, the SDS and all those left-wing professors who want the industry' nationalized.
Its also the simplest business in the world. All you have to do is position yourself over some oil or gas and drill down.
General Feature* Corporation
Way wifh words
Dance man dandled
By Theodore M. Bernstein
MAN WHO DANCES, a female ballet dancer is a ballerina, writes Joan Ixwiton of Palm Beach, Fla., but what is a male ballet dancer called? Answer. A danseur.
A ballerina is also called a danseuse. If the man is the leading male member of a company he is the premier danseur. If the female is the leading member of her sex she is the premiere danseuse. And if you are crazy about either or both of them, you are a balletomane.
Watch those plurals. A news article about the buyers for a high-class grocery store said, “Their criteria varies with the particular fruit or vegetable.” Criteria is the plural of criterion and so the verb should be vary.
Another article, this one written by Governor Reagan of California, contained the following sentence: “There s no doubt the mass media plays a critically important role in our system, particularly in reporting the affairs of government.” Using media as if it were a singular noun is becoming more and more widespread, but such use is an out-and-out error.
a medium, newspapers are a medium, radio is a medium. Media is a plural and it applies to two or more of the mediums. By the way, you would expect that mediums as a plural would come more naturally to speakers of English and that plural is quite correct. But somehow the misusers seem to think that media sounds more impressive.
Word oddities. Whence comes the word fuddy-duddy? As is true of most slang, the origin is not completely clear. The guessing is that the word derives from dud, meaning a weak, ineffectual person. One source says that the Scots used that word as far back as the early 19th Century.
In the United States it came into use in World war I to designate a shell or bomb that failed to explode and in the 1930s to designate that weak, ineffectual person or an ineffectual thing.
The next step was apparently the process of reduplication, in which a new word is coined by repeating a sound of an older word. Thus we got hanky-panky, itsy-bitsy, footsie-wootsie and — building on that ud sound — fuddy-duddy.The meaning has changed, too, to designate not only an ineffectual person but also one who is elderly and old-fashioned. So there you have either etymology or a dud.
New York Time* Syndical#
Every time an investigation begins in these parts, the people in charge say it won’t be a witch-hunt. Witches must have a terrific lobby around here.
— Tulso World
Bike sale. Save $6 to $11 on all multi speed bikes
Women’s 26” 3-speed touring 64.98 Men s 26” 5-speed touring Women’s 26” IO-speed racer Men s 26” 10-speed racer Men s 27” 10-speed racer Men’s 27” 10-speed racer These are in carton prices—Assembly $5 extra Bicycle Sales-Service
JCPenney Patio Shop
Corner 2nd Ave. &5th St. S.E.
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Hearing Aid Center 8th Floor Merchants National Bank Bldg. Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401 Phone 364-5816
POWERFUL NEW Hearing Aid
The 1020 behind-the-ear hearing aid gives you a wide range of smooth, clear hearing.
ROBERT S. KLOPP
The Cedar Rapids Gazette: Sub., April 21, 1974 9^
Now’s the time for Swimming pool paint!
(••.and this is tho place)
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Television Is a medium, magazines are
Theodore M. Bernstein