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Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - December 3, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa Cellar Ital pith #»3 Editorial Page U.S. malaise as seen on two continents Tueidoy, December 3, 1974 Privacy-guarding distorted “That is, of course, the way to torpedo a bill: . . . stretch it into incoherence.” So wrote columnist William Buckley a few days ago, concerning the reaction of some critics in the colleges toward legislation giving people new power to examine previously closed records on themselves in college files. The same technique, it seems, has found expression at the high school level. No other purpose than erasure of the family educational rights and privacy act of 1974 makes sense behind Iowa City school officials’ recent clam-up on student scoring in a basketball game and another system’s blackout on honor roll names. Both pulled the shade allegedly because the students’ parents had not signed waivers permitting release of the names and the facts. Any law that barred publicity on game performance, honor rolls, graduation lists, musical programs and the like would be a classic in stupidity. The act in question does none of those things, although it has some flaws that merit challenge. But even from motives of bad-law removal, the tactics used in Iowa City and the Lewis Central Community school near Council Bluffs were a foolish mistake As long as this approach persists, it disserves most of all the students whose activities deserve attention. Even if a holdout on innocuous material endured in the guise of privacy protection under law, it would not lead to a complete repeal of the law. Revisions might follow — as they probably will anyway — but many provisions that schoolmen object to will stay there regardless. It is silly to expect that asinine enforcement will go far to wipe the whole thing out. Sponsors of the measure now collecting harpoons intended it mainly to protect students’ privacy against malice and to guarantee that students or parents would have access to the files of their own records when the reasons for access are legitimate. That intent was just as worthy as unnecessary secrecy is bad One oversight at the college level was that student files often contain material — from writers of student-recommendation letters, for example — whose sources properly expect it to remain confidential between the writer and admissions offices. These should remain that way. A possible oversight at the public school level failed to appreciate that necessary candor on the part of school personnel concerning student situations may be inhibited (to a student’s own detriment) if parent eyes and parent wrath come into prospect every time too. Room for useful and judicious screening for certain material in everyone’s interests belongs in such a system also. Clarifying guidelines from the department of health, education and welfare are expected in a month or so to help settle some of the problems encountered already. If those don’t suffice, amendments to the act in due course can follow. They do not need a flood of secrecy-flaunting absurdities to further that endHarmony sought If the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Arafat does not curb his hostility toward Israel, a U.S. favorite, Americans — having tried every other means — may start putting their admonitions into song. How about “Yasir, that’s our baby”? Nonstereotype In a stern denunciation of racial stereotyping, an Ebony magazine article (September issue) points to John Amos’ “Good Times” TV role as typifying the “pathetic black male” who cannot keep a job Anyone who has viewed three or four installments of the situation comedy doubtless will understand actor Amos’ anger over such observations. Contrary to the bumbling husband-dad television tradition, the “Good Times” father maintains total command whether he’s working or unemployed No doubt the character s high boiling point is responsible for the criticism. Repeatedly he endures discrimination’s less offensive nuances. Importantly, though, this measured restraint adds force to the scene when he finally gets steamed. It takes a high-caliber performance to play the role successfully for sympathy and laughs, and “Good Times” gets one from John Amos. He would be a fine choice for an Emmy award.Americans mistake hangover for sickness By James Reston WASHINGTON Tho dilemma in Washington these days is that half tho politicians seem to bo evading the harsh economic facts while tho other half are exaggerating tho gloom and almost talking us into a depression. Tho reporters and editors are vaguely baffled by this pickle They remember that it was tho fatuous optimists who misled the country in tho real depression of tho 1930s, but as W illiam Manchester reminds us in his magnificent narrative history of tho last 40 years (“The Glory and tho Dream’’), tho (INP was down to MI billion in 1932 and tho average weekly wage of those lucky enough to find jobs was $18.21. Now tho situation is awkward, and in tho automobile towns it is alarming, but tho calamity howlers are adding to tho depression psychology and making things even worse than they nm! to be F'or example, many companies now seem to be holding back on essential purchases for fear of what might happen in 1975. and there is upward pressure on both prices and wages in the belief that President Ford will James Reston finally be forced to adopt wage and price controls In short, many people are beginning to act on their fears which are worse than the facts. Washington is a little jittery too Because everybody who has a pain sooner or later comes here to complain about it, the capital has a tendency to think everybody has a pain. Accordingly it is not a bad idea to assume here that nothing is ever quite as good or as bad as Washington thinks it is — leaving out Nixon, of course, who was worse Not so long ago normally sensible people here were depressing the country with horror stories about automation throwing millions of men and women out of work. about the menace of the Sino-Soviet alliance, about the missile gap. and the Sputnik gap, the generation gap. and the racial gap But automation seems to be* working a lot better than the Sino-Soviet alliance, and the communists, far from out-producing us, as Khrushchev promised, are now trying to figure out how to get the food and advanced technology of the United States. A little adjustment of the gloom therefore may be* in order America is not weak and sick, as in 1932. but nervous It is strong, but it has a hangover It has been spending too much, going tm) fast, living too high. and the bills are now coming in from the credit card companies. This is not primarily a Gerald Ford problem, though it might help if he stayed around and struggled with it. but a national problem, involving decades of waste and illusion It is popular now to say that “you can't indict a whole nation,” and it is obviously easier to blame the President or the congress or the press, but our present difficulties are not merely political but philosophical. Even while they blame Ford or George Meany, most thoughtful men and women here recognize the general nature of the present American condition Nothing in the American experience has prepared our people for precisely the mixture of monetary inflation and economic recession, four fold increases in petroleum prices, and worldwide shortages of food now disrupting the life and politics of the nations But over IOO years ago. Emerson and the other philosophers of a simpler age were defining the principles that govern people in their private and communal lives. They were saying that people had to be responsible for their acts and were rewarded ar punished accordingly. “Every excess causes a defect; every defect an excess." Emerson foretold in his essay on “Compensation". In the end, he added, one way or another, “every secret is told, every crime is punished, every virtue rewarded, in silence and certainty . if the good is there, so is the evil; if the affinity, so the repulsion; if the force, so the limitation ..." And then, almost as if he had anticipated Kichard Nixon over a century ago, Emerson concluded; “The farmer imagines power and place are fine things but the President has paid dear for his White House It has commonly cost him all his peace, and the best of his manly attribute's To preserve for a short time so conspicuous an appearance before the world, he is content to eat dust before the real masters who stand erect behind the throne . . This law writes the laws of cities and nations. It is vain to build or plot or combine against it." There is anxiety in America now because, or so it seems here, we have violated his hard simple law Things simply refuse* to be mismanaged for long without trouble Turn the world as you will, it tends to balance itself, in reward or retribution This is what is happening in America now It is having to adjust to a world that has taken America’s own ideals of equality, profit, supply and demand quite seriously, and it is a very painful process The oil-producing nations are saying it’s their turn now. They are selling what the industrial world needs at the highest price they can get. The sugar rED STATES OF AM )8I7256 l.'-kVKA S IS NGT LI JAI producers, the coal miners, the bauxite merchants, the eigarmakers, the news print manufacturers, the farmers' mid dlemen. the food processors, the supermarkets and the pro quarterbacks are all charging whatever the market will bear So things are a little mixed up and everybody is looking for painless solutions and hoping to get back to where we were before, with cheap gas and 98 fancy new models to choose from But it’s not on, folks. That world has gone We’re going to have to make do and mend for a while, but this is a very strong country and it will gel along ii we don’t talk ourselves into a mess Npw York Times SpryicpAllies cannot perceive slippage of tin gods By C. L. Sulzberger PARIS — I have recently been struck by the number of Europeans who profess puzzlement at American gloom about the world economic situation and who argue that the United States is a strong super power richly endowed with resources, which has no logical reason for taking such a pessimistic view Europe, they insist, would be far more justified in assuming attitudes even more negative than is actually the case. The argument — advanced by highly placed individuals who are personally acquainted with the U.S.A. — is that the United State's is still a paradise when compared with this continent which, at present, is deeply concerned about its dependence on foreign energy sources, the inflationary impact of huge petroleum bills, a gathering wave of strikes and a lapse into political listlessness Yet, despite these generally acknowledged factors, people over here insist they are less depressed in the long run than Americans are rapidly becoming. Why, they inquire, should so vast an enonomy as the United States’ — which depends to such a relatively small degree en international commerce — be Insight* C. L. Sulzberger more nervous than the area of the Common Market which is driven by disputes and almost wholly dependent on foreign trade in order to surv ive? It is insistently repeated that the American energy picture is far brighter than Europe’s — that the U S. has immense natural wealth and requires only minimal discipline to regain its self-sufficiency — that its manufacturing capacity is vibrant — that striking gains have been made in easing racial strains which threatened the social fabric — that our university campuses are again tranquil and that, thanks to steady government pressure, the ghastly drug menace has been reduced The answer to Europeans is not as neat and logical as they would prefer. To begin with, although we are all democracies with varying emphases and particular idiosyncrasies of method, a gap in understanding splits the Atlantic. West Germany is by nature more disciplined than America — France has a greater tradition of professional servants who emerge from lev Grondes Ecoles, especially the relatively new National School of Administration, and He who fears he will suffer already suffers because of his fear Michel E de Montaigne spend their lives in the civil service or politics There is little comprehension of what often seems to Europeans a rather slipshod system of choosing American leaders, some of whom have had little other than regional experience. But what is simply not appreciated is the enormous damage to American selfconfidence caused by wounds inflicted by Vietnam, our first “lost’’ war. and bv Watergate, which offends the Puritan ethic handl'd down by our forefathers Scandals and defeats don’t seriously disturb experienced, cynical old nations over here. The combined shook to our own illusions about ourselves is rarely understood. And when it is contended that the United States is its own market and has slight real need for overseas commercial exchanges, Europeans tend to forget how quintessentially important these are to the financing of the free world’s defense, on which they (as well as we) depend. Without the small percentage of U. S. foreign trade Washington's overseas military expenditure would be promptly curtailed. Finally, few of our allies understand that most Americans have been worshipping at the altars of two tin gods for the better part of this century: the Wall Street stock exchange and the Detroit automobile industry. The Paris Bourse or Renault works are as nothing in comparison. Their role in Frances development is subsidiary But both the U. S. gods are failing W all Street has slipped down and down and, although it looks good compared to the london shares marked, it has slipped a good deal of the normal psychological ebullience natural to Americans. Detroit is in bed with a serious case of pneumonia — automotive plants are laying off workers by the thousands This not only affects the individuals and labor unions involved — it has strange repercussions on the collective national psyche. So the primordial fact remains that Americans are exceedingly discouraged One has only to look at any day’s budget of reports from the mass media to confirm this It may seem odd to Europeans, who are accustomed to living on more of a hand-to-mouth basis and who also feel closer to the front lines of international confrontation. They are disturbed and somehow feel unduly excised when they hear Americans mouthing a steady diet of gloom But there are explanations for this gloom and it is well for our allies to know what they are York Tim« S*rvif* People's forumIn-school recruiting To the Editor The Cedar Rapids school board has made a ruling in the past that recruiting personnel of the armed forces may not contact students on school premises but may just leave literature at the counselor's office It would seem that voters who pay the property tax should have some say on this. We taxpayers also pay our income tax to the federal government, which in turn sets the defense budget From this defense budget come the salaries of the well-trained recruiters who are sent to this city to encourage enlistment in the armed forces With a draft no longer operating, and the economy tightening, and the cost of college constantly soaring higher, young men and women should be informed of the excellent opportunities available to them in service training The small towns in this area allow recruiters the opportunity of speaking to senior classes on a recruiting day. As unemployment goes up, fine careers with great job potentials await our young people now in the service Wake up, Cedar Rapidians We can’t allow this action of the school board to hamper the careers of our future citizens Richard L Peick 708 Old Marion road NEAlcohol policy To the Editor In reviewing several news articles with reference to the sale of HO proof Liquor in Iowa, I am quite surprised to read “the state of Iowa will ‘give in’ to the national trend ’’ I realize that the state liquor control department has been blessed with two contradictory objectives, control and sales (increasing state revenue), but it is becoming obvious the latter is assuming the major role “Giving in" would suggest a reluctance to adopt a policy that seemingly would be the best of both worlds for the liquor control department. Distribution would remain the same or perhaps increase, while with lower alcohol content absolute levels of alcohol consump-tion would be lowered. In short, the proposed 8(1 proof sale might best lie mandatory and higher proofs controlled Such control measures provide the drinker his nght to drink and the nondrinker his right to provide himself perhaps a little safer world Jerry Fitzgerald Iowa CityAggravations To the Editor; Adding to the confusion from past events on the Washington scene, most taxpayers are so numb with justified rage that they can hardly take pen in hand and write vehement protests to their congressmen concerning subsidies and grants, congressional salaries, inflation and living costs, oil and food profiteering, etc The most recent tidbit surfacing is the subsidy grants by the Federal Maritime Administration of $90 8 million and $107.6 million to Philadelphia Interstate Oil Transport Co., a subsidiary of City Service Oil Co, in tanker and tugboat building ventures. Andrew Gibson, as administrator of FMA made the first grant in 1972 Later the second was made by his deputy, Robert Blackwell, who followed him to FMA as administrator President Ford nominated Gibson to head the Federal Energy Administration. replacing tin* abb* John Saw hill. then withdrew the nomination when he learned that Gibson, after serving as president of the Philadelphia Interstate Oil Transport Co. for 14 months ending in May, 1974. had received a severance payment of nearly $1 million, spread over a 10-year period Senator Jackson (I) -Wash ) is now investigating this matter The question is. who finally benefited from the $198 2 million grants and why pay Gibson $1 million? Nothing has so angered the man on the street as the proposed salary increases for congressmen, judges and high echelon officials by the lame-duck congress President Ford said: bite the bullet, tighten your belts, spend less, shop carefully and eat less Perhaps the common people should eat grass, while the favored public officials eat filet mignon and caviar It is not surprising that some of our youth turn to what is almost anarchism or iconoclasm regarding our political system The President and congress should put their houses in order; 1978 is nearer than they think J J /.achar, sr MI Fortieth street SECity info To the Editor Congratulations to Mayor Canney and the Cedar Rapids Social Planning staff for the new “Citizen’s Directory' to City Services”, also issued in “yellow pages” format as “Information on City Services" The listing of phone numbers for city offices is helpful, but even more so is the section on “answers to citizens’ questions It lists items according to the common sense language that many |>eo-ple would use for their problem or question W ith that listing a person can find an answer to his question without being an expert on city government organization This is a commendable effort toward making the city’s government and sendees more accessible to its citizens. Margaret S. Smith, president Cedar Rapids Marion League of W omen Voters 1024 Maplewood drive NEVandalism deterrent To the Editor The recent rash of breakins and vandalism in area schools prompts me to write this letter I have read and watchful reports which indicate that the only action being taken or suggested is an increase in sheriff and/or police patrols, all at considerable expense to the taxpayer, not to mention the cost of replacing and repairing the articles stolen or damaged in the breakins. At many, lf not all, of our school buildings. a breakin could lake place unnotimi at the same time a patrol car is passing by It seems to me that a much more practical, efficient and economical deterrent would be in the installation of some type of burglar alarm system Granted, those alarm systems which are tied into a switchboard at police headquarters are quite expensive. I ani sug gesting a much less sophisticated system I here are many relatively inexpensive devices designed for home use which could Ik* used in our schools. For example, then* is a device, which can be located almost anywhere (perhaps in a strategic hallway), which emits inaudible. high frequency sound waves If these* sound waves are disturbed bv someone walking within their range, the alarm is tripped, and can be ngg«»d to activate Mis, lights, a siren fir whatever. I his device can In* set to sound an alarm until it is manually reset or reset automatically after some time period I am suggesting that such a device need not Ik* tied to police headquarters to In* an effective deterrent What juvenile vandal wouldn’t be sent fleeing after tripping such a device'* In addition, decals could Is* placed on doors and windows indicating that an alarm system was in use* What would-be vandal would Im* willing to test the credibility of such a dec al? Perhaps, the decals alone would prove an effective deterrent Incidentally, the alarm device I have mentioned is available from one manufacturer. in kit form, for less than SWI (less bells, etc ) I tan only imagine the tost of increased patrol activities which are at l*est, only part time JC Sundberg 315 Sussex drive NE ;

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