New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - April 14, 1983, New Braunfels, Texas
4A New Braunfels Herald-Za/funy Thursday, April 14,1983Opinion'SHsrald-Zeitung
Dave Kramer, General Manager Hobart Johnson, EditorJack AndersonThai pirates still prey on refugees
Nearly two years ago, I reported the pitiful story of Vietnamese refugees who are being brutally raped, robbed and murdered as they try to flee their communist homeland in rickety boats across the Gulf of Thailand.
Their cruel tormentors are Thai pirates, scourge of the southern seas, who carry on their pillage under the nose of the indifferent Royal Thai Navy.
The story caught the eye of President Reagan. Touched by the plight of the boat people, he instructed a top White House aide to direct the Navy to protect the helpless refugees.
Despite the compassionate order from the commander-in-chief, however, the world’s mightiest navy has done nothing to stop the depredations of the Thai cutthroats.
So the carnage goes on.
Outraged State Department sources describe the assault as “an abomination”...“crimes against humanity”...“something that supposedly went out with Attila the Hun.”
A typical attack includes the wanton slaughter of able-bodied men, gang rapes of the women and theft of anything of value — even the clothes off the refugees’ backs.
In some cases, babies are tossed overboard to drown, apparently for the pirates’ amusement. Many refugee boats are attacked several times before the half-dead survivors finally reach safety in Malaysia or Indonesia.
Confidential State Department cables examined by my associate Lucette Lagnado indicate that U.S. officials, including Ambassador John Gunther Dean, have complained forcefully to the Thai government about its failure to crack down on the piracy.
Las December, Dean and the ambassadors of other concerned governments — Switzerland, Italy, Norway, Britain and Australia — discussed the situation with Thai officials in Bangkok. “The suffering of the refugees at the hands of the pirates must be alleviated,” Dean told
According to one cable, “the ambassador stressed to the (Thai) naval authorities that concrete results were needed,” and added that lf the pirate attacks were not reduced, “the image of Thailand as a country which followed humane policies would be hurt.” The Thais’ failure, Dean warned diplomatically, “could have a detrimental impact on a wide range of issues.”
Dean characterized the Thai’s effort to date as “dissappointing.” When the Thai officials asked for more money to fight the pirates, Dean pointed out that the current $3.6 million program being financed by foreign governments was already “a substantial commitment.”
No one minimizes the difficulties involved. There are as many as 50,000 vessels plying the Gulf of Thailand. Many of them are legally registered fishing boats that make up an important part of the Thai economy. The sheer number of vessels and the size
of the gulf make policing the area a staggering Job.
The anti-piracy program depends on airplanes to spot apparent pirate attacks and pinpoint the location for Thai gunboats. But in the entire month of November 1982, according to the State Department, only five such sightings were made, and in most cases the patrol boats either arrived too late or went to the wrong place because of faulty directions.
The U.S. Navy has accomplished even less — though it has the planes and helicopters needed to patrol the gulf.
Footnote: The “refugee season” is about to resume. Rep. Stephen Solarz, D-NY, has pushed for a $5 million appropriation to help the Thai government in its currently ineffective war on the pirates.
Looking It Up: As the armed services’ weapons have grown more complicated, the maintenance manuals have more than kept pace. Many are unintelligible to the
mechanics who must use them. For example:
— The repair manual for the Navy’s Cougar plane in 1950 ran to 1,800 pages. By 1975, the F-14 required a 250,000-page manual.
— To fix one particular radar malfunction on a C-141 transport, the technician must flip through 165 pages in eight separate documents, and look in 41 different places.
— The time it takes personnel to search through technical manuals costs the Air Force $630 million a year. As one study noted: “Once the information is found, there is no guarantee that the technician will find it usable.”
— For all its services there are 131,000 aviation maintenance manuals, running to nearly 13 million pages.
— The Army alone could save $1.7 billion a year if manuals were improved to make them more usable.
White House Pipeline: Despite a severe recession, officials of the
United Way reported a six percent increase in funds raised last year. They attributed it in part to President Reagan’s personal appeal last year. Reagan told them he was “amazed” that disaster areas like Detroit and Cleveland contributed more than their goals.
— Good Friday was quiet time at the White House. Budget Director David Stockman and congressional liaison chief Kenneth Duberstein had lunch together in the White House mess — and for the first time they could recall, neither one was summoned from lunch to take a phone call.
— Everyone’s a critic. When six-year-old Christopher Rush, the Muscular Dystrophy poster child, exchanged jars of jellybeans with President Reagan at the White House, the President regaled Christopher and his parents with a few stories. My reporter later asked Christopher what the Reagan stories were all about. “They were all about the same," he answered brightly.
John L. Hess
Loads of paperwork and other tax gripes
Mutterings of a taxpayer:
There, that’s done.
But did I get it right? What did those instructions mean? I can’t even understand the first paragraph: “Paperwork Reduction Act Notice. — We ask for this information to carry out the Internal Revenue laws of the United States.”
Paperwork reduction??? Compared to what?
“Section B. — Depreciation of recovery property. — Column A. — Two factors determine the class of property: whether the property is section 1245 or section 1250 class property: and what midpoint class life (if ary) would have applied to it on January I, 1981, if the asset depreciation range (ADR) system had been elected.”
If that’s been simplified, no wonder Harold Washington neglected to file.
The fastest rate of depreciation is allowed to, among other things, “a race horse more than 2 years old when you place it in service, or any horse that is more than 12 years old when you place it in service.”
Why do they call a race horse “recovery property?" Is the IRS promoting the sport of kings? Not if they’re paying off on 12-year-old nags. And what are the odds on a yearling? A colt? They don’t say.
All this paperassene is the gift of an administration that promised to take the government off my back.
Well, it sure took the government off General Electric’s back. Reagan used to race under GE’s colors, remember? That’s one investment of theirs you could call recovery property.
The Wall Street Journal says GE paid $17 million for 1982, leaving it a net income of $1.82 billion. That’s less than I percent.
I guess GE is better at figuring taxes than I am.
The paper said GE did even better on taxes in 1982 than in 1981, because the law that closed one loophole opened another still wider. It has to do with tax leasing, which I suppose GE and the IRS understand.
I suppose the experts also understand why banks pay only 2 percent or so on earnings. TTiey tell me it has something to do with their deducting the interest they pay out on money they borrow, to buy tax-exempt bonds.
But if they're so smart, why did they raise a fuss over withholding taxes on interest due to depositors?
If the banks don't pay taxes, and GE doesn't pay taxes, well, somebody has to. Especially if Reagan insists on shooting the works on Star Wars.
We either pay for it out of taxes or we borrow more money. Mainly, we borrow more money. That raises prices, or it raises interest rates, or both. Check whichever is applicable.
Reagan wouldn’t stand for raising taxes. But isn’t that a sneaky little tax increase, to grab the depositer’s interest as it is earned? And why are they raising the Social Security tax, while cutting the tax on race horses?
Aw, who said taxes were supposed to be fair? I’d settle for them being clear.
Now, let's see. Have I filled in everything? Oh, yes, this box. Do my spouse and I want to contribute a buck apiece to the presidential campaign?
Are you kidding?
For the past week I’ve been looking through drawers and going through pockets looking for receipts I might possibly use as tax deductions. I have pitifully few honest deductions and I’m too nervous to take dishonest ones. It seems to be that if I write a column and use everything that goes on in my life as material, my life ought to be deductible on my tax form. Marty, the accountant who helps me with my taxes, says the IRS wouldn’t feel that way about it, though. And Marty knows more about how the IRS feels than I do.
You have to play the IRS game. For the most part I write in this very comfortable work area here in my home in Connecticut. My wife does all our bookkeeping and she has turned one of the kid’s rooms into an office for herself. She has a built-in desk and works on hr typewriter and little computer there. We both do a lot of work in those offices in our home. But we don’t mention it to the IRS. Marty says that deducting any part of your
home as an office causes the IRS auditing machines to flash red. It’s an honest deduction we don’t take because we don’t want to make waves. It’s the most dishonest think I ever did with my taxes.
The best thing that ever happened to me with taxes was the result of a charitable contribution I made years ago. It was during the height of the civil rights argument and I was working for one of the early morning television news broadcasts. We had Roy Wilkins on the show as a guest one day. He was then head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
After the broadcast we had breakfast together and talked for almost an hour. I was impressed with what a good, honest person Wilkins was. At home that night I made out a small check and mailed it to the NAACP as a contribution.
Whey I made out my tax form some
months later, I added that cancelled check to my other charitable contributions and put it in a folder. Later that year we got the dreaded notice that our taxes were being audited. I put everything together in a brief case and went to the IRS auditing office in New York City.
Most of the accountants doing the auditing were bright young Jewish boys who had just graduated as CPAs and were doing the work to get a start in the business. When I was ushered into a cubicle where my auditor worked, I was mildly surprised to see that he was black.
We started going through all my numbers and receipts, arguing about things that were missing and settling on some other issues. Halfway through the audit this nice young Mack accountant started thumbing through my charitable contributions. I saw him pause imperceptibly when he saw my $25 check to the NCAAP. He hastily finished looking at the rest of the receipts, put an elastic band around them, closed up my folder and
said, “Everything here looks in pretty good order, Mr. Rooney.”
It was the best charitable organization I ever made. He wasn’t dishonest. He just liked me and knew a man of my character who wouldn’t cheat the government.
There is just one law I’d like to see passed in relation to taxes in the United States. It would involve some extra bookkeeping but it would be worth it. I’d like to make it mandatory for the government to file an income tax form and send it to each one of us, informing every American as to exactly how his tax money was spent. I don’t care how little tax you pay; you ought to have a right to know what the government did with it. If I knew my tax helped pay a librarian's salary at the National Institute of Health, I’d be delighted. If I found that any of it went for a Congressman’s boondoggling trip to the South of France, I’d be damned mad.
Americans don’t object to paying taxes. They oject to the way their money is so often wasted.
n0Sni£?>EM0C*N5ff*A5 THE DI CAH SEE,TWTC)/ WJTTHEyU NEVER GET OUR DEFENSE BUWEr-TUem. NEVERGET P&SV Ifc/
Hap Edmund Kuampel Ta aas Houta of Representatives P 0 Bom 2910 Austin. Tesas 78769
Sen Lloyd Bentsen United States Senate Room 240 Russell Building Washington. D C 20610
Gov Mark White Governor s Office Room 200 State Capitol Austin. Teaes 71701
Rep TomLoeffler US House of Representatives 1213 Longworth House Office Building Washington D C 20616
Sen John Treader Teaes Senate Capitol Station Austin. Teaes 7S711
Sen John Tower United States Senate Room 142 Russell Building Washington. D C 20610
Taxes aren't the problem— it's how the money is spent