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January 10, 1970 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1970-01-10

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1, 41 . 1." I


search of mad dragons

lie ridigan Bthj
Seventy-nine years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students of the University of Michigan

Searching for America in the snow





420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mich.

News Phone: 764-0552

Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily express the individual opinions of staff writers

or the editors.

. This must be noted in all reprints.


The cost of inflation

speculators hail the recent indica-
tions that the economy is finally slowing
down, the news that inflation is being
stopped will probably offer little solace
to the thousands of autoworkers laid off
by Detroit in the past few weeks.
In Washington, President Nixon por-
trays inflation as a major threat to our
economy and free enterprise. In univer-
sities across the country, economists ex-
plain that the "price" of ending inflation
must be a corresponding rise in the na-
tion's unemployment rate, but while the
mathematics behind all these economists'
advice appears neat, to a worker who has
just lost his job, these machinations
must seem surreal.
Of course economists and commenta-
tors qualify their assertions by recogniz-
ing that the unemployment level cannot
rise beyond that imaginary limit which
is "politically unacceptable" but even a
man like Nixon will be hard pressed to
explain to a black autoworker that he
should quietly lose his job in the in-
terests of the economy.
FOR ONE aspect of economic reality
which Washington overlooks. or re-
' ises to consider is the fact that the first
and hardest hit by layoffs are blacks and
poo whites holding marginal jobs with-
out seniority.
In a nation with over 80 million work-
ers, an increase in the unemployment of
one per cent is staggering when it is
translated into human terms. It is all too
easy for an economist or a politician to
surround himself with statistics and fig-
ures which make him abhorred over the
idea that the dollar may lose its inter-
national reputation but which lets him
The fri ghtening
mnaj orly
JN AN IMPRESSIVE resounding tour de
force all three top officials of the Nixon
administration have d i s p 1 a y e d the
strength of their following. Nixon himself,
his liaison officer to the Almighty, Billy
Graham and that ubiquitous superfluity
Spiro Agnew turned out to be the ,three
men most admired by Americans in a
poll conducted by the Gallup organiza-
Apart from the shockingly bad taste
displayed by the American public (they
also chose Mamie Eisenhower as the most
admired woman) the political import of
this welling up of admiration is genu-
inely frightening. Out there, indeed all
around us, there is a silent majority just
as President Nixon said there was. And it
appears to have just the views he said -it
IS A group long ignored by and now
fed up with the usual directions of
American politics. To these men and
women Nixon's fulfillment of political
non-promises, Agnew's rabid anti-intel-
lectualizing and Billy Graham's advice to
"get high on Jesus," come as manna from
Let us hope this last popularity contest
of the 1960s does not portend the direc-
tion of a whole new decade.

rest assured that a 'small' increase in the
unemployment rate is "politically ac-
However, if a politician is responsive
to the human needs of those people most
likely to be affected by his decisions-in
this case the urban poor-,he should feel
compelled to search 'for alternative
methods of stabilizing our economy.
MAKING THE poor bear the brunt of
the fight against inflation (through
increased unemployment and the cur-
tailment of domestic programs) seems
all the more callous when the greatest
single cause of inflation-the more than
$100 billion already spent on Vietnam-
reeks so much destruction and hardship.
It is the billions spent on Vietnam each
year, without the, price controls or war
profits taxes on those who make the most
money from it which has been respon-
sible for the pressure on our economy in
the first place. But now, the Administra-
tion is asking unions to give up the wage
increases they need to maintain the buy-
ing power of their incomes in order to
fight the inflationary trend which the
government initiated and continues.
The Joint Economic Committee's latest
report on the federal budget says that
while the rate of Vietnam spending is
expected to be down $8 billion by the
middle of next year, non-Vietnam de-
fense spending-due to exotic new pro-
grams like the ABM-will be up $4.5 bil-
lion by then, absorbing most of a "peace
dividend" which could cool the economy
or feed the hungry.
WILL THE POOR have to pay twice for
the war in Vietnam? First they have
paid in hunger for the inflation which
has reduced the dollar's purchasing power
by 16.6 cents since 1964. Now the first-to-
be-fired are paying again because of the
Administration's deflationary program,
which is based on fewer jobs and reduced
federal spending.
At a time when Nixon's economic ad-
visors are asking for cuts in government
spending, it seems incredible that the
President insists on limiting programs
like Food Stamps and the Office of Eco-
nomic Opportunity while allowing the
monster Defense Department to consume
more than 40 per cent of the federal
budget into the Vietnam abyss and on
toys like the ABM.
Recently an economist here at the Uni-
versity commented that the President
would be more than willing to accept an
increase in unemployment in order to
stop inflation because of his political
constituency. After all, the voters pulling
the lever for Nixon in 1972 are the ones
most uptight about inflation and least
inclined to support increased federal
spending for the urban poor.
MUST THE POOR bear the brunt of
both the ups and downs of the eco-
nomic rollercoaster?
When Lyndon Johnson was President,
he was frequently criticized for adding to
inflation with his "guns and butter"
policies. How long will the real problems
of our society go unattended until we
realize that guns alone can wreck the
Hopefully President Nixon will look be-
yond 1972 and realize that his anti-infla-
tion program may contribute more to
exacerbating national problems than
solving them.

EVEN MUSKEGON is beautiful in t h e
snow. Twelve hours of s n o w falling
thickly in soft clumps can smooth over
even the raw ugliness of factories, shop-
ping centers, and used car lots. Rich man,
poor man, and all their respective prop-
erties become indistinguishable under
mounds of white. Snow is the great equal-
It is also the occasion for dusting off
lots of old ideas about 11 f e in America.
Neighborliness a n d rising-to-meet-the-
crisis reassert themselves as people with
snowblowers help their !less fortunate
neighbors to dig out. Feelings of commun-
ity thrive among snow shovelers and strug-
gling drivers, conversation' drifts across
the snow, and the family comes together
again to wait out tbe dark, cold nights.
Snow brings out the pioneer in people.
Not that Muskegon is particularly out of
date. It is a hardworking, silent majority
town, roughly analagous to the A 11 e n
Parks, Birminghams, a n d Dearborns of
this area only better stocked with prole-
BUT IT has developed over the years an
opinion of what America should look like.
Part of this has come from television -
winning money on the morning game
shows, obeying the social norms set down
on afternoon soap operas, handling crises,
both political and familial, on the evening
serial models.
Another part comes from the fear of
having to change - to accept the unac-
ceptable or to sacrifice the known for an
unknown suggested by somebody else. Thus
boys should not wear long, straggly hair.
Neither should girls. A n d black history
should not become part of the old high
school social studies program There ought
to be some respect for the laws we have
always obeyed and t h e government we

have always served. And people should be
nice to each other, but discretely, without
In a particularly bleak and uninspiring
way, the opinion of Muskegon represents
American reality, and the o n l y reality
many of us will ever know. This is Amer-
ica the humdrum. It is reality made up of
the endless repetition of patterns so in-
flexible that even the variations are pre-
dictable. It is also America the p u r e of
heart, where people are expected to be
kind and honest and trustworthy, al-
though increasingly they prove not to be.
This is the American reality that many
students revisited only one month after
they had marched in Washington.
THE TRIP to Washington never seemed
very real. We travelled at night, sleeping
through hundreds of miles and awakening
to find all the well-known landmarks on
an otherwise ordinary horizon. Our ac-
comodations and our purpose made us part
of a homogeneous, largely student com-
munity, injected into the city and isolated
from it.
The question of the weekend became,
"Why are you here?" The answers have
mostly been given. We were against the
war, against the Pentagon, against death;,
we were hoping for another Woodstock;
we wanted to sightsee; it was the place to
Yet the mood of the marchers pointed to
something deeper than that. The people
who wandered through t h e government
area in the gray cold of Friday afternoon
had come to look for America. They walk-
ed around the base of t h e Washington
Monument watching the living panorama
that stretched from Lincoln Memorial to
the Capitol, and their faces held the in-
tent searching expression of cynical pil-

They had been bred to be patriots and
now they were confronting the temple of
their faith. They expected to feel some-
thing, and they felt nothing. It w a s a
strangely flat sensation, like receiving
communion in the Catholic Church and
trying to feel the presence of God in your
soul -- the same nothing.
The symbols of American government
are impressive, all heavy stone and pillars,
elegant, immovable, ancient. T h e y are
calculated to inspire, but they can't any-
more. The men and ideas they memorial-
ize and the government they were built to
house are part of the past.
Today the Greek temples house a com-
puterized bureaucracy, and the old ideas
are more suitable for giving Fourth of July
speeches than for solving modern prob-
lems. But we are expected to swear alleg-
ience to the old temples without reference
to the new gods inside them.
HAVING FAILED to find America where
the guide books promised it, people threw
themselves into Mobilization activities. In
some small way, every participant hoped to
reach out and reclaim his prodigal govern-
So the faces of t h e marchers against
death wore the same cynical pilgrim look.
One felt they were trying to feel the sig-
nificance of the name card they wore and
the collective movement of committed feet
and the encouraging candy pushed through
the rain from the sidelines.
And possibly they believed that there
was something to be felt, perhaps because
the ever-present comaraderie was so much
more real than the Greek temples, many
people did find something there. The faces
that walked away from the coffins in front
of the Capitol were like faces I have seen
coming out of a confessional.
If Friday seemed like a day of Penance,

Saturday was a day of Rejoicing. The rain
stopped, the sun shone, and thousands of
pilgrims assembled on the Mall to march
to the Washington Monument .But already
there were defections. A f e w marchers
straggled out to visit the Smithsonian, and
as the day progressed. the crowds at both
the museum and t h e National Gallery
grew visibly.
By closing time the National Gallery was
packed, not only with young art-lovers,
but also with tired kids sprawling on the
marble floor of the rotunda, lounging
amongst the flowers in the two gardens,
and sleeping on the couches in the galler-
ies. The scene looked like a refugee cen-
ter, and one guard commented, "At first
we weren't supposed to let them lie down,
but man, they're so tired"
AND SO the weekend ended and every-
one went home trying to pick America out
of the monuments, the marchers, and the
National Gallery. Many gave up the po-
litical search and looked instead at the
human value of the good fellowship they
had seen. Many more refused to place good
fellowship within the context of America.
And a month later the term ended and
everyone went home, home to a particul-
arly bleak and uninspiring American
In Muskegon very few people wear the
intent searching faces of cynical pilgrims.
Most of them have their America and are
reasonably content with it If asked, they
would probably locate it somewhere be-
tween t h e Declaration of Independence
and the Protestant ethic, and people it
largely with good fellows. They are sup-
ported in their belief by television and an
occasional snowstorm and blind faith.
The Washington pilgrimage seems very
far away.


The south of the

border, blaahs,

traveling friend and I arriv-
ed in Cuernavaca, Mexico from
the Mexico City airport we were
ushered into the first of a week
of parties. We walked into the
main room of what looked like a
very stylish home amid cocktail
party banter, smacking lips on
offered cheeks and clinking ice in
100 or so' glasses and prepared to
greet the country.
A large part of my eight-day
stay in Mexico was spent in Cuer-
navaca, and I spent a good part
of that time at parties there.
South of Mexico City on the way
to Acapulco, Cuernavaca is well-
known, I guess, as a resort area
for wealthy Mexicans and Amer-
icans who can live in a much
flashier style there than in the
U.S. for the same price. Someone
told me that only 1,000 Americans
live in Cuernavaca and If I had
stayed another few days I'm sure
I would have met 95 per cent of
them because they all stick to-
gether like glue.
THEY GO to each others par-
ties, eat the same trays of turkey,
ham, chicken 'and rolls, drink to
excess and all have doqs. Except
for an occasional tortilla insert-
ed in the menu, the only Mexican
influence at many of their homes
and parties are the kitchen help
and houseboys.
At some of the ritizier parties
one may also find a few Mexican
musicians who can play "H e 11 o
Dolly," "Wooly Bully" and other
similarly Mexican tunes.
I must extricate some Ameri-
cans from this way of life, how-
ever. These are the ones who live
in Cuernavaca because they work
there as the Latin American re-
presentatives of their respective
companies in the United States.
But most of the Americans seem
to be the 50-75 year old retirees
or wealthy, wealthy typeswho
have decided to capitalize on part
of what Mexico can offer - cheap
labor and a cheaper cost of living
than in the United States.
The expatriates seem to h a v e

nothing to do all day except call
one and other up to confirm that
nothing is new or to invite one or
the other over for a drink or a
I had the ,misfortune to attend
four of these parties in six days
and missed two others in my eight-
day stay by sheer luck. (American
Airlines found room for us two
days earlier than we had planned
to return.)
One of the more striking sights
to hit my eyes at that first party
was a baldheaded, 60-ish man with
bushy sideburns wearing a blue
blazer, yellow, blue, red and white
bellbottoms and white shoes,
walking suavely among the guests.
All around him were pantsuits,
long dresses, short dresses, s e e -
through outfits, halter tops, dia-
monds, topazes, gold, and a large
piece of Jade (I thought it was
ivory but was soon corrected) that
was perched in the abundant
cleavage of one woman.
Scurrying Mexicans meanwhile
nodded their heads for drink or-
ders - the kind of English they
understand - "Room and coca."
THE NIGHT progressed slowly.
Four medium aged Mexicans and
a little boy with marachas d i d
their best to entertain the guests
with good old American music.
My friend and I left early.
But the best was yet to come-
New Years Eve and a party re-
portedly for 150 people.
Dec. 31 - We arrived around
9:30 p.m. on the last day of the
Sixties and some of the aging jet
set was tottering already. By 1970
the damage was done - it was the
first time I had seen women so
drunk they were unable to stand
up let alone hold a drink right
side up. As liquor interferedwith
their equilibrium it seems to have
likewise loosened their tongues.
The hostess, for example, a wiz-
ened, brusque lady from Houston,
Texas in a spangled pantsuit,
treated us all to an instant teplay
of her husband's strip tease
Christmas night. "Whah he even
had awn mah black lace braa-
zeer," she croaked. "Ah married
him when ah was 45 years old (her

second husband, I was told) and
he had a pair of purple and yel-
low bathing trunks then. And ah
bet him he couldn't get into them
again but shore enough he d i d.
Whah he stripped better 'n any
stripper ahve ever seen," s h e
AND THEN there was the really
quite attactive American woman
married, I learned, to a wealthy
Cuban immigrant - "Notchy",
short for Ignacio - who had got-
ten out of the country with all his1
money before Castro took over.
At the end of the evening she
staggered over to me and embrac-
ed me - not out of affection, I'm
sure but simply because the im-
petus of walking over carried her

right into my arms. Had I moved
she would have fallen flat on her,
well made up face.
I would go on with the cast
of characters at the party, not to
be believed, I guess, until they
are actually seen. Like the very
inebriated artist from Houston
who, everytime she rewrapped her-
self in her rose-colored sari inad-
vertently left one side of her black
long"line bra exposed for public
The most surprising thing about
the New Years eve fiesta, though,
was that by the next day the exact
same crowd was at an annual New
Years day open house to begin
the whole routine all over again.
APPARENTLY these people en'-

joy their lot. It certainly isn't a
demanding one, except maybe on
their respective constitutions -
most assuredly not on their minds.
These people needn't have a
thought about anything except
where the next party or casual
luncheon will be or what the Mex-
ican help has broken today.
Perhaps it is a misnomer to say
these people live in Mexico. True
their houses, cars, clothes a n d
bodies are there but their life-
styles remain in the United States.
I'm not sure there is any point
I wish to make, any moral judg-
ment I wish to proclaim except
maybe to note rather sadly that it
is possible to travel 1500 miles
beyond this country's borders and
not know you have ever left.


The most important crusades

AMONG SOME hitherto severe
adult critics of youthful poli-
tical activism, a cautious note of
relief is now being aired. It has
been stirred by the news that a
number of energetic student lead-
ers are turning their attention
away from the war and its griev-
ious impact to what is viewed by
these elders as the healthier topic
of environmental pollution.
Thus columnist William S.
White, one of the most fiery type-
writer warriors against the anti-
war movement, reports with sat-
isfaction that "private conversa-
tions with many students support
the. estimate of various public au-
thorities and, specifically; the Nix-
on Administration that the prob-
lems of our environment - pol-
lution and smog and so on-are
succeeding 'revolt' as such as a
center of student concern." One
can almost hear him breathing
more easily as he writes that "if
'the kids' can indeed be further en-
couraged farther along this road,
where their sense of passion
against things as they are is both
healthy and useful," 1970 will be
a "far better new year" than prev-
iously indicated.
Although I have so far failed to
encounter the new breed of the
environmentally engrossed,. their
existence has been widely report-
ed, even evoking a Page 1 notice
in The Times for a national round-
up of their activity. A Student
Council on Pollution and the En-
vironment (SCOPE) has already
been formed. President Nixon
seems to feel he has at least found
common ground - other than a
football field - with young Amer-
ica; he has belatedly intimated
that the anti-pollution struggle is
the battle of the century, perhaps
one in which David and Julie Eis-
enhower and Kim Agnew can join
IT IS NO disparagement of the
earnestness of this student mani-
festation to express a mild suspic-

sent threat to human survival em-
bodied in the continued accessibil-
ity of hydrogen bombs still trans-
cends all other perils afflicting the
universe. To put the matter a trifle
primitively, the big atmosphere
and water cleanup being visual-
ized contains large elements of
irony as we dwell in the shadow
of the great blow-up. One might
even contend that an obsession
with the dangers of contaminated
food can become a distraction
from awareness that far too many
people in the universe endure
on the edge-or reality-of star-
Obviously thisescapism need
not be the case. Not many weeks
ago some5000 University of Cali-
fornia students joined in the
chant "We Want to Stop the War,
End Pollution--and Beat Stan-
ford," thereby indicating a reten-
tion of priorities perhaps at var-
iance with White House expecta-
IT MUST ALSO be said that,
despite the welcome it has receiv-

ed as an expression of clear-head-
ed, clean-shaven constructiveness,
the environmental movement may
swiftly open many new domestic
cans of worms, if the expression
will be forgiven. One group at the
University of Texas has already
filed 58 complaints against t h e
university (No. 1 on the gridiron)
for pollution of a creek. Nader's
raiders have collided bitterly with
the auto industry on air pollution
as well as on safety questions. Con-
servationish students have clash-
ed with the Army Engineers Clear
Creek Dam project in southern
Ohio. charging that it was prepar-
ing to flood a cherished natural
area used by science students.
Drug manufacturers are under
fire for obnoxious waste.
On many levels many varieties
of entrenched industrial and spec-
ial interests may find themselves
the targets of SCOPE and allied
groups pursuing the search for sal-
vation from climatic suffocation
and other man-made afflictions.
Thus what are cheerfully des-
cribed by Mr. White as "fresher
winds blowing across the campus"J
could be the prelude to many un-
predictable storms once "the kids"
begin asking too many questions
about who has done what to Moth-
er Nature. And Mr. Nixon's pro-
claimed dedication to this con-
cern with the deteriorating qual-
ity of life will very shortly be put
to the test of how much money he
is prepared to invest in the count-
er attack to supplement the rhe-
toric. No small sums will mean
So let nothing said here be
construed as signifying disdain for
the anti-pollution crusaders, or
any allegation that their thing, is
contrived to take our minds off
the casualty lists, no matter how
much some would like to have it
turn out that way. The real ques-
tion is how 'one manages to main-
tain any sense of priorities in a
time when so many matters bur-
lesque the condition of modern


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