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View Sample Pages : New Braunfels Herald Zeitung, February 24, 1987

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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - February 24, 1987, New Braunfels, Texas Opinions Dave Kramer. Editor and Publisher Jim Webre. Managing Editor Page 4 Guest Column The return to the energy predicament Herald-Zettuop, New Braunfels, Texas Tuesday, February 24,1987 THAT IWS.SEA6KW - HEH,HEH -’BOY, WHAT A KIDDER!!' Mike Rovko Echoes of Selma sound so phony It doesn t seem that long. but more than two decades have passed since most of the country was watching a small. Southern city called Selma. Ala. They saw red-necked deputies on horses ride down peaceful civil rights demonstrators on a bridge. They heard and read about murders and floggings, dogs being unleashed on school children. So thousands of people, known as Freedom Riders, came from all over the country to Selma and Montgomery in Alabama to lend their presence and their support to a cause The cause was that of fundamental rights and fairness. Masses of citizens were being deprived of the vote. They were told they couldn't sit at a lunch counter, drink from a water fountain, send their children to public schools, enter state universities, hold public jobs, walk on public streets. They wanted these rights They wanted to be free from the fear of being dragged from their homes and tortured. And it they called a cop. they wanted the cop to protect them, not give them another kick. Going to Selma was dangerous. A housewife from Detroit was shot to death on a modern highway. A New England clergyman’s skull was crushed. But people went and it was both a proud and shameful part of American history. It led to changes in the laws and in attitudes Only last week, an all-white jury in nearby Mobile said the Ku Klux Elan would have to pay $7 million in damages to the family of a black murder victim. Twenty years ago. a jury in that Andy Rooney part of the counrty might have recommended hanging the family. I've been thinking about Selma and that era because of something that happened in Chicago this week. Two busloads of blacks from Selma and other parts of the South came to Chicago. They came here to take part in Mayor Harold Washington's primary champaign, to ring doorbells and get out the vote. That's OK. Out-of-towners often take part in local political campaigns Big-name politicians come in and endorse local candidates Candidates. such as former Mayor Jane Byrne hire New York sharpies to manage their campaigns. The letters section of Chicago newspapers are filled with suburbanites spouting off about Chicago politics and government. So there s nothing unusual about “outsiders," as they're called by those who don't want them here, taking part in a local political brawl. But what is wrong is the impression they’ve tried to give as to their motives. They came in singing and chanting, as in the days of Selma. They even called themselves “Reverse Freedom Riders." And their speakers used many of the civil rights buzz-words — justice, equality, freedom, etc. In other words, it came splashing across TV as something out of the civil rights movement. A slice of Selma. 1965 And that was as phony as a politician's grin. If they want to ring doorbells or hand out leaflets, fine But they shouldn't be wrapping politics with a civil rights ribbon. I have to remind them that they came to a city that already has a black mayor, black police chief, a black school superintendent, a black parks boss and a city administration and City Council controlled by blacks It s an administration that requires contractors to hire minority subcontractors. It requires a quota of black cops, black firemen and blacks in all departments When I went to Selma I think the highest-ranking black municipal employee picked up garbage And it was safer to go rattlesnake hunting than to try to register to vote On election day in Chicago next Tuesday, nobody who is qualified is going to be told they can t vote more than once There won t be any cops on horseback chasing them. I doubt if the many black police sergeants, lieutenants and captains would approve Nor would bigot judges condone that sort of thing The record shows that Mayor Washington has won just about every legal battle over voting procedure And when the voting is over Washington will get a fair count That’s how he won four years ago. So if the visitors want to ring door bells, they should ring away But spare us the civil rights slogans, the clasping of hands and the cries of "We Shall Overcome." Harold Washington has already overcome. The only question is, can he do it again? And if he can't , that’s tough, but ifs what they call the democratic system Everybody gets a chance to vote, and the person with the most votes wins That, as I recall, was what Selma was really all about. Beware the company memo By DR. MICHAEL CANES Chief Economist American Petroleum Institute "It is impossible," Woody Allen once observed, "to experience one’s death objectively and still carry a tune." We in the oil business are beginning to understand what he meant. For us, it means trying to provide secure energy supplies after being severely incapacitated by events of the past year. The need for safe domestic energy has grown, while the U.S. oil industry has shrunk. As a result, the country’s energy prospects have taken a dangerous turn. Last year, crude oil prices crashed, and the energy markets reacted. U.S. oil production dropped 9 percent between February and December, while production outside Alaska fell lower than it has since the 1950s. The nation used more oil than it had since 1980. Oil imports rose I million barrels a day. and imports from the volatile Persian Gulf region quadrupled. Meanwhile, thousands of companies in the U.S. petroleum business went bankrupt or otherwise left the business, and hundreds of thousands of workers lost their jobs. Ominously, as a new Congress meets, many Washington policymakers in both the legislative and executive branches seem blind to the clear implication of these developments: Our nation could rapidly get into an energy predicament more dangerous than that of the 1970s. When the world oil glut dries up — which is already happening — an increase of I million barrels a day in demand for imports could cause oil prices to rise by as much as 89 a barrel. Such a rise would be a SO percent increase from today's prices and would add to our foreign trade deficit by several tens of billions of dollars a year A major oil cutoff, when energy markets are tighter, could have even worse consequences Because there are no quick fixes in the energy business, such a cutoff could cause a sudden, massive price shock and — if it continued — the worst U.S. recession in half a century These events are not hypothetical — they could happen in as little as three or four years. By then, the country could be more dependnet on imported oil than ever before — actually importing more oil than it produced at home. The new Congress and the administration, as they debate issues vital to U.S. energy security, have a chance to postpone and lessen the danger — or to greatly increase it. For example, in grappling with the federal budget deficit and tax issues, Congress could recognize that its recent tax decisions have put a severe handicap on domestic oil production. The oil industry — which has seen its profits decline for several years — has nonetheless in recent years paid an effective federal tax rate twice the average of other major industries. And last year. Congress added a further disproportionate share under tax reform. Very simply, that means less money is invested in domestic energy production. This year, Congress should stop doing damage. It should, for example, remove from the books the misnamed "Windfall profit tax" — which is actually an excise tax on domestic oil production. Comapnies know that this tax alone could take as much as 70 oercent of future increases in their revenues. Thus, the companies must pass up costly exploration, development and enhanced recovery projects that otherwise would be economically feasible. Similarly, the government should remove the remaining controls on the price and use of natural gas. The United States has abundant reserves of this fuel which, if found and developed, would help offset oil imports in the future. But, no matter what policies are adopted, these new petroleum supplies will not be developed if the lands that may contain them cannot be explored. The government should make sure that today’s scaled-back exploration efforts can be concentrated on the best prospects. Instead, it has been doing the opposite. Most of the best remaining prospects lie on government lands, and the government has been removing them from exploration. Highly promising areas off the California coast have been placed off limits year after year by congressional moratoria. And the nation's best single prospect — which could rival the greatest petroleum discovery in U.S. history, according to the Department of the Interior — is currently barrad to exploration, and some in Congress want to lock it up permanently. That area, in northeastern Alaska near the giant Prudhoe Bay oil field, is designated by the Interior Department as the "1002 study area." The industry’s 20 years of experience on the Alaska North Slope fully demonstrate that petroleum operations can be carried out in a manner compatible with the arctic enrivonment and its wildlife. For example, the caribou herd that some thought would be harmed by development at Prudhoe Bay has more than quadrupled since 1970 to some 13,000. according to the interior department. If further oil development occurs, less than I percent of the 1002 study area would be affected and then only for a relatively temporary period. However, leasing of promising areas, decontrol of natural gas, removal of inequitable taxes — or any other government policy actions that may be needed — simply won't happen until Congraee confronts the potential energy danger. The President. Congress, all branches of government, the media, and the public should begin to address the potential for severe harm from continuation of present trends and then assess what should and should not be done about it Otherwise, we soon may — to paraphrase Woody Alin — be experiencing a serious energy predicament and finding it impossible indeed to "carry a tune." Tile nation's economy and the well-being of its citizens could end up being terribly off-key. When the president or chief executive officer of a big company issues a statement saying how well the company is doing, you can bet the company is in big trouble or he wouldn’t have bothered. The first thing these memos try to do is establish the chief as Mr. Nice Guy. He'll say. "I’d like to take this occasion to share some thoughts with you." Or possibly he’ll say, ““I welcome this opportunity to speak to you.” The literature of the company memos is a genre all its own. Memos are often written for the president by a minor executive who also works on writing the rosy prose for the stockholders’ report at the end of the year and they reflect some style of those masterpieces of sleight-of word To understand one, you have to be able to translate what s actually said into what's actually meant. For example . “In the put year, our company has undergone significant restructuring " This usually means aiot of people got fired and one of the company’s divisions lost so much money they got rid of it. "We ara confident that with your help we will be able to overcome the formidable obstacles..." This translates as we’ll be asking you to take a cut in pay. "We have made (peat strides in recent months ." the memos always say. Then they go on to say, “While we have made great progress, there is still a long way to it What the head of the company is usually trying to tell employees is that they better brace themselves for a salary cut or some layoffs. “Difficult times" always “lie ahead" in company memos. “As you know" the company menu) continues, obviously not believing that you know at all or it wouldn't be telling you, “the economy makes us particularly vulnerable to competition from outside interests “We can no longer count on” something. It doesn't matter what, but they always say they can’t count on something. “In the future, as in the past, we will continue to" do something It doesn’t matter what, either. They always say they’ll continue to do it. The single most popular word in the memo from the company pres! dent is “challenge." The company faces “an unusual challenge this coming year,’’ or it has already "faced a series of unusual challenges" in the year just past The president, nonetheless, looks forward "to a year of expanding growth and productivity." The times are never just ordinary, everyday times in a company memo. "As ive face the future” times can be "demanding times," “troubled times," or “the difficult times in which we live " Sometimes they are “turbulent tunes " Even though it looks as though the company is going to fire people, cut salaries and reduce the quality of its product, “Our commitment is to excellence " Or “We are committed to a program of excellence ” If the rumor is already out that the company is going to lay people off, one of the first things the president says is "There is no truth to the rumor ..” There is never any truth to rumors in memos from company heads to employees The company may go belly up three weeks later, but at the time the president speaks, you can be sure “there’s no truth to the rumor whatsoever.” Nothing could be further from the truth lf the rumor of bad news has already proven to be true, the company head wants to “put the whole matter into perspective.’’ “We must put this whole matter behind us" because, as every chief executive tells you “it is time for ut to look to the future." “Our greatest asset is you, our employees.’’ If you are one of the employees, beware the company memo. 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