New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - April 12, 1983, New Braunfels, Texas
4 New Braunfels Herald-Ze/ft/np Tuesday, April 12,1983OpinionsHvrald‘Zfitun$
Dave Kramer, General Manager Robert Johneoa, EditorJames J. KilpatrickCatfish and Glenn—it's all perception
Ward Sinclair, writing in the Washington Post, turned out a delightful piece the other day on catfish. He was down in Sunflower, Miss., where he interviewed catfish farmers, and he came away with a blooming affection and a growing respect for this humblest of creatures.
Moved by the proper spirits, I too could compose a rhapsody to the catfish, but Sinclair’s piece set a train of thought in motion down a spur track. The problem the catfish farmers must overcome, if they would grow to a billion-dollar industry in the next decade, is a problem not of reality, but of perception. It is the same kind of problem faced by politicians and by public institutions all the time.
I A>t me say a word about the catfish.
There is much to be said for salmon, if it isn’t cooked too dry; a man can enjoy fresh mountain trout, though most restaurants smother its delicate flavor in a blanket of slivered almonds; given a lively sauce, pompano and red snapper are acceptable dishes. But these familiar offerings pale to insignificance beside the perfection of the Southern catfish. Imagine Helen of Troy. Now imagine Tugboat Annie. This will give you an approximate idea of the relative beauty of the catfish compared to other fish.
Another word or two will suffice: The catfish is easily cleaned; it gives itself to matchless fillets; the flesh is firm and superbly flavored. It requires no elaborate French or
Spanish sauces. Accompanied by a strip of bacon, a handful of hush puppies, and a side order of blackeyed peas and unsugared stewed tomatoes, a lightly fried catfish provides a repast for the gods.
But the perception is something else, and here we go on the spur track. The carfish popularly is perceived as something else entirely. With its bulging eyes, oversized mouth and sinister whickers, the catfish is thought to be ugly. Though the catfish is as clean as a Polident commercial, the catfish is widely regarded as dirty. Most significant in the marketing view, the catfish is perceived as the fare of po’ folks. It is not sophisticated; it lacks eclat, elan and all those other French things. It’s got no class.
This perception has depressed the catfish market for years. We see the same kind of thing at work in the ponds of politics. Jimmy Carter came to be perceived as a wimp, but no wimp could have achieved the Camp David accord or risked a rescue effort for the hostages in Iran. Richard Nixon still is perceived as sinful; in a more accurate view, he was merely unlucky. Abe Lincoln, the man who “freed the slaves,” is perceived as a saint; in point of fact, he freed only a portion of the slaves and he voiced some racist notions that might have come from the Citizens Council.
What is the current perception of Ohio’s Sen. John Glenn? He is perceived as a dull-whitted fellow — but no one who heard him at last month’s
Gridiron dinner in Washington would accept that perception as the reality. Colorado’s Sen. Gary Hart, another presidential hopeful, is thought to offer nothing but craggy good looks; the reality is something else.
So, too , with faceless fellows. The Washington “bureaucrat” is perceived as an odious flunky, concerned with tasks at once needless and wasteful; far more typically, the bureaucrat provides the sturdy shoulders on which government stands. We have unkind perceptions of bankers, lawyers, labor leaders and congressman, and more often than not the perceptions are far from the mark.
To be sure, perception and reality
often coincide. Every reporter has known politicians who were in truth fatheads, blowhards, tinpot tyrants and publicity hounds. But 40 years in the news business have taught me to develop reservations about those first impressions that, easily copied by the Xerox herd, get to be lasting impressions.
What the catfish farmers need is a new perception of the Olympian reality in their nets. If they marketed their product as ’’chatte du lac," maybe the toniest restaurants of New York and Washington would come to life. The delectable reality would soon be discovered; a catfish fad would become a catfish rage. Think it over, John Glenn. Realities count, but images often count for more.
MX vulnerability a theoretical topic
By TIM AHERN
,„ ANP NOW, JAMES WATT AMP THE BEACH BOYS.,
The trucking industry— deregulation pros and cons
WASHINGTON (AP) — When President Reagan’s study panel sends Congress its recommendations this week for basing the MX missile, supporters of the new nuclear weapon will argue that it is needed to overcome the vulnerability of America’s land-based missiles.
Reagan and Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger have said that the I.OOO Minuteman missiles — the backbone of America’s land-based nuclear deterrent — are vulnerable to Soviet attack. Top Pentagon officizls and private defense experts have voiced similar concerns.
The first warnings about U.S. missile vulnerability were sounded almost a decade ago by James Schlesmger. defense secretary for Presidents Nixon and Ford.
The reason: the Soviet Union, like the United States, has continued to improve its guidance systems for missiles, thus perfecting their accuracy.
Tests of the Soviet missiles that would bt* used against the Minuteman are tracked by U.S. radars and spy satellites.
The Minuteman is the main land-based leg of the U.S. nuclear “triad,” which also includes manned bombers and submarine-launched missiles. The United States also has a land-based force of Titan missiles, aging weapons w hich are being retired.
There are no similar worries about bombers and submarine missiles. Indeed. Pentagon officials have been asuring Congress in recent months that the submarines are relatively invulnerable to Soviet attack and are likely to remain so for the rest of the century.
When they discuss the vulnerability of the Minuteman, nuclear experts usually caution that it is ‘theoretical.”
No nation, of course, has ever launched a large-scale nuclear attack and strategic experts agree that such an attack, known in the argot of nuclear war scenarios as a “bolt from the blue.’’ is highly unlikely. That’s because the vulnerability of the Minuteman missiles involves a large number of unknown factors.
Nonetheless, defense officials say the> must follow a “worst case” .scenario in their planning.
For their part, the Soviets would have to overcome a series of obstacles to mount a first strike successfully, one that takes out at least 90 percent of the Minutemen.
First, the Soviets would have to fire a Large number of their 300 SS-18 missiles, the giant intercontinental
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weapons that carry IO warheads each. The SS-18s, according to a recent Brookings Institution study, are grouped at five different bases strung along a 1,500-mile path in the south-central Soviet Union.
The firings would have to be coordinated within split seconds so the missiles would hit southern U.S. silos in Arizona and Arkansas first, and then “walk north” so that radiation and debris thrown up from the first explosions did not knock later missiles off target.
In operational tests, the Soviets have reportedly fired at least a dozen ICBMs at once, but the question whether they have the technological sophistication to make a large-scale launching work is unknown.
A second problem is that the hundreds of Soviets missiles would travel a polar route, which no missile has ever done. The Soviets, as does the United States, test their missiles on an East-West axis.
It is unknown whether the Soviets have the ability to correct their ICBM guidance systems to offset the known atmospheric and magnetic anomalies in the polar regions.
In addition, the Soviets would have to use “cross-targeting” to make sure they knocked out U.S. missiles. In “cross-targeting,” each of the warheads on an SS-18 is aimed at a different Minuteman silo, each of which also is targeted by a separate warhead from another SS-18.
This provides a nuclear insurance policy in case the first Soviet missile went off course or didn’t reach its target for some reason.
Moreover, such a Soviet attack would be based on a major assumption. that the United States would not use a “launch-on-warning” strategy.
“launch on warning” means that a country launches its missiles when its spy satellites and radars begin tracking enemy missiles in flight. The strategy is considered risky because of the possibility, however slim, of a false alarm caused by computer error.
U.S. nuclear policy is a closely held secret, but generally it is believed to call for absorbing a first strike and then retaliating. Officially, the Pentagon has discounted — but not flatly ruled out — a “launch on warning.”
Would an American president, confronting evidence that a wave of Soviet missiles was heading over the North Pole, withhold his land-based weapons? Or would he order a “launch on warning?”
Another obstacle in the way of a successful Soviet first strike is that the Soviets can never be sure what the United States would really do.
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By EDMUND KUEMPEL Stat* Rap.. Diet 48
Members of this Texas Legislature will consider several measures which would repeal laws affecting both consumers and special interest groups alike. One of these is the important issue of trucking deregulation.
The trucking industry plays an important role in Texas agriculture. Currently, virtually all the towns and cities in Texas rely on the trucking industry to transfer their goods, and a large percentage of goods shipped out of the state are sent by truck. Because of the high economic fluctuation of an industry such as agriculture, demands for transportation of goods vary greatly with agriculture’s economic standing.
This mutual reliance creates a variety of problems. High and low demand situations make agriculture, and consequently trucking, very transient industries. In 1929, in an effort to stablize this link between agriculture and tucking and encourage the young trucking industry, Texas regulated the transportation of agricultural commodities.
The Texas Railroad Commission now grants permission, in the form of certificates of public convenience and necessity, to persons to carry freight within the state. It also sets rates and insurance and safety standards. As of
August 31, 1982, 117 common carrier certificates and 1,694 specialized motor carrier certificates were in existence.
To receive a certificate, one must prove financial capability of providing the service. He must also show a need exists for the service and that an adequate service is not being provided by current certificate holders.
Because of the magnitude of agriculture’s effect on the Texas economy, the effects on regulation on both trucking and agriculture remain a heated issue. While regulation has its supporters, a number of people favor deregulation. Regulation in Texas was based originally on several assumptions. First, that ease of entry into the market would result in price wars and that a monopolistic situation would occur. It was also believed that regulation was necessary for safety reasons. These assumptions form the basis of the major points being debated.
One of the main aspects of the issue which incorporates arguments from both sides is the question of whether regulation encourages monopolies. Deregulation supporters claim that current entry restrictions allow for monoplies. Any company which currently services an area can protest another trucker’s application for a certificate in that area. Because of this, proving necessity and obtaining
the license may be very difficult. This limitation of the competition rn the business can mean greater costs to consumers than an open, competitive market.
The RRC also controls rates, but in 1982, they granted 98.9 percent of the rate adjustments requested. Of those they turned down, most were requests for decreased rates.
Those in favor of regulation first point out that restriction is necessary because the demand for motor earners is dictated by the amount of goods the economy produces. Therefore, they contend, the restricted entry had prevented a glut of motor carriers from producing a deterioration of the industry. They also suggest that competition exists because the RRC exercises flexibility in granting certificates. According to the Texas Motor Transportation Association, roughly 8.2 percent of requested certificates were granted by the RRC. They also maintain the position that regulation has actually prevented price gouging by setting standard rates.
Another important point to examine is safety. Under the current law, truckers must meet safety and insurance requirements before receiving certificates. Opponents to deregulaton efforts cite this as a major advantage with regulation. Allowing ease of entry into the market would encourage “marginal” motor carriers to engage in business.
Competition would, rn turn, force these carriers to reduce costs, most likely in the area of safety precautions. They also suggest that service to unprofitable areas, now services under regulation, would decline drastically under deregulation.
Proponents say that natural competition would encourage efficient service at reasonable prices. They cite deregulation in Florida, which had regulation laws similar to those in Texas. Rural areas and small cities do not appear to have suffered from deregulation. In addition, cost penalties currently paid by Texas ag producers, currently higher than in deregulated areas, would decrease.
HB 711, by Rep. De Lay, is currently under consideration as a means of alleviating the situation. It would deregulate common, contract and specialized carriers. A renewable operating permit and compliance with safety and other regulations would still be required. However, the RRC would no longer set rates, fares, changes of schedules and services, and certificates of public convenience and necessity would not be required. This seems to take into account the issue of safety, while trying to eliminate any problems which have arisen under regulation.
Thia issue is, obviously, of graal importance to any agriculture and Snicking area. I would appreciate your input on this subject, which my staff and I are currently reviewing.