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October 25, 1979 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1979-10-25

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Page 4-Thursday, October 25, 1979-The Michigan Daily

Ninety Years of E
4 Vol. LXXXX, No. 43
' Edited and managed by stud
Carter's Morr
an immoral,
N DECIDING to increase arms
sales to Morocco's King Hassan,
President Carter has succumbed to
presidential politics and to the line of
some congressional hawks who find
some redeemable virtue in having this
'-.country prop up losing monarchs with
American weapons.
The President's decision to break
past policy and sell the King OV-10
reconnaissance planes and bronco
helicopters makes this country
Hassan's supplier in his illegal land-
grab of the Western Sahara territory.
That role puts the U.S. squarely at od-
ds with the 33 nations of Organization
of African Unity, which has already
recognized the claim to that same
desert area by guerillas of the
Polisario front, fighting for an in-
dependent homeland.
This administration, by arming.
Hassan in his aggression, is caving in
to the attacks of those vho think the
U.S. did not do enough to help the Shah
or Iran and Anastasio Somoza out of
their internal'crises. Admittedly, King
Hassan has been a consistent
U.S. ally in the Middle East and in
Africa. But to reward that friendship
by arming him in his war of aggression

ian Bailg
Editorial Freedom

News Phone: 764-0552

ents at the University of Michigan

occan arms sales
unrealistic plan'

ranks on the immorality scale
somewhere near our own experience in
Vietnam and Cambodia.
But President Carter apparently is
trying to head off the criticisms from
the right that his administration is too
"soft" and unwilling to stand by
longtime U.S. allies in need. But the
decision to arm one of America's bed-
fellows to the teeth, and encourage him
to beat back the insurgency of an in-
digent people struggling for a
homeland, constitutes not friendship,
but an ignorance of the realities of the
region. Even Carter's national
security advisors admit that the in-
creased Moroccan arms sales will not
help the King beat back the guerillas at
this point, but they are hoping Hassan
can be convinced to negotiate a set-
tlement.
Several members of Congress, in-
cluding Rep. Stephen Solarz (D.-N.Y.),
chair of the House Africa subcommit-
tee, have pledged to fight the ad-
ministration's new arms sales
requests. For the sake of common-sen-
se morality-and for the sake of the
U.S.'s image in the world-we can only
hope that the efforts to block Carter's
decision are successful.

0

Nader's new
weapon is
his sense
of humor
By H. Scott Prosterman
For the past fifteen years Ralph Nader has
come to symbolize, if not personify the con-
sumer movement in the United States. What
began in 1965 as a personal investigation into
the death of a friend (in a G.M. Corvair), has
now mushroomed into a powerful consumer
lobby, pushing for change in everything from
consumer research and buying habits, to the
self-perpetuatingrcorporate basis of the U.S.
economy, to the "bankrupt" two-party
system.
In listening to him speak, one senses his
awareness of his own idealism, and a sense of
realism in dealing with the problems that he
presents. One further sees, that after more
than a decade on the college lecture circuit,
Nader has cultivated the most powerful
weapon possible for achieving his purpose-a
sense of humor, which he deftly uses to get his
pointsracross, and to satirize his nemeses.
There are times when he asserts that any
humor in his subject matter is strictly ac-
cidental, as he said at one point: "It sounds
funny, because it's exactly the opposite of the
way it should be." But if Nader makes his
audience laugh strictly by accident,then his
listeners are well-aware of the distinction
between "comedy", and "humor", such as
pointed out by Mort Sahl, in his
autobiography, .Heatland. "Comedy makes
you laugh," said Sahl, "but humor makes you
think." Exemplery of Nader's satirical per-
ceptions, is his observation that our economic
system has become 'disfunctional', and has
evolved into a "dinosaur Stage-a huge cor-
porate dinosaur with a pinhead brain."
BUT DESPITE the humorour presentation
of some of his topics, one perceives a
disposition of anger, when he gets down to the
unfortunate realities of his purpose. He men-
tions the "red-lining" of neighborhoods as a
prime indicator of the existence of two
economies: the corporate one, and the expen-
dable one. Inflation has continued to touch
every aspect of our society, except for the
corporate sector, which continues to record
profits, which far exceed the inflation rate in
many instances. The rest of the economy
meanwhile can not put itself above the wrath
of inflation, especially since it does not have
the power to initiate the inflationary trends.
While the big steel companies can initiate in-
flationary trends with minor price increases,
the banks and insurance companies con-
tribute to it as well, by red-lining neigh-
borhoods, and cousing their immediate
decay.
This, a process of "economic anesthesia
ensues, whereby the corporate sector is
anesthesized from the ills of the rest of the
economy, with help from the government. We
can see this in the oil decontrol measures,
which facilitate upward pressure on oil
prices, and mute opposition to it, at the same
time, by publically confusing its consequen-
ces.

Capital punishment-again

THEN GARY Gilmore went
W before a Utah firing squad in
1977, he was the first American in 12
years to be executed. Though
numerous appeals and court injun-
ctions had delayed his execution for
months, many feared his death would
start a new wave of executions across
the country. For two years, nobody
else was killed. Many who had expec-
ted the domino effect began to breath
easier.
It may have come later than an-
ticipated, but the new flood of
executions has begun: Five months
ago, John Spenkelink died in Florida's
electric chair, and just a few days ago,
Jesse Bishop was sent to the gas
chamber.
When this cycle will ever end, if at
all, is not known. But, it can not be
tolerated any longer. Capital punish-
ment is inexcusable in any circum-
stance.
Some say capital punishment is
wrong but should be invoked if the vic-
tim shows no resistance. That
argument fails to realize that the

crime of capital punishment is
society's collective decision. It is not
the killer's prerogative.
Others abhor the notion of killing a
fellow human being, but believe it ser-
ves a purpose in detering others from
killing. But recent studies have found
no conclusive evidence to support this
theory. There is even some evidence
that capital punishment may actually
bring about murder.. There are often
"suicide-murder" cases, many
clinically documented, of persons who
wanted but feared to take their own
lives and committed murder so that
the state would execute them. There
are imitative killings by the weak-
minded-those who are incited by the
sensational publicity . surrounding
murder trials and sentencing.
The Bishop killing, along with the
previous two, spells trouble for the 550
on death row who are awaiting their
fate. Some will welcome the chance to
die; others will protest. Regardless of
each criminal's choice, the Supreme
Court must execute its powers and
prevent any future capital punishments.

AP Photo
Ralph Nader, the personification of consumerism in America, has cultivated one of the most
powerful weapons in dealing wih his audiences-a devestating sense of humor.

Nader ...
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The energy policy of this country has long
been the unfortunate victim of planned ob-
solesence in one form or another. Whereas the
first few decades of the auto industry saw
cars that were "built to last", the 50s saw the
big three begin to build cars to fall apart over
increasingly shorter periods of time, as a
means of perpetuating consumer demand.
We can see this problem repeating itself in
the battle of renewable vs. non-renewable
energy sources. As Nader pointed out, "many
corporations have a vested interest in non-
renewable energy sources, as a way of con-
tinuing to increase prices, reflect scarcities,
or contrive scarcities." Solar energy, on the
other hand "is. . . sinful to Exxon," because,
he says, "it is a superabundant source for
four billion years . . . allows for long-range
planning, and it can't bee cartelized or em-
bargoed." It also, "has the potential of going
straight to your home or business, and by-
passing you friendly neighborhood oil com-
panies and utilities."
Nader used this instance to strengthen his
point that the large multi-national cor-
porations which dominate our economy, have
all but abandoned many of the fundamental
values of our society, namely, "health,
safety, compliance with the law, clean
political campaigns, respect for the rights of

munication systems, which have become one-
way, from Madison Ave. to us. Because so
many of us think with a corporate perspec-
tive, we often "laugh at consumer asser-
tiveness." We have become shy and inhibited
about asking questions about what we are
buying or what we are putting into our bodies.
We have been conditioned to accept sales pit-
ches without reservation; and we approach,
things like buying a car, or renting an apar-
tment with a willing attitude to take whatever
they will give us, on their terms.
It is even more unf.ortunate that we have
become inhibited and intimidated against
questioning the professional judgment of our
doctors, who Ralph says, "are at least char-
ming, if not competent." We have become
grossly intimidated against challenging the
sales pitches of big business, as well as the
arrogant assertiveness of the medical
establishment.
Yet this is the establishment which has
helped turn gerontology into a multi-billion
dollar industry, as Ms. Kuhn pointed out, and
which has reacted with paranoid hostility
toward all forms of alternative medicine; be
it preventive nutrition, cooperative medical
services, or innovative sciences such as
chiropractic and polarity therapy. Ms. Kuhn
offered some encouraging observations
though, by pointing out the willingness of
more and more medical students to challenge
the judgment and policies of the AMA. The
idealism and optimism of Ms. Kuhn was
especially refreshing for a woman of her
years, and she held her own quite well at
following Nader. She was refreshing in the
sense that someone her age can maintain that
innocence and idealism, which many of us
have as freshpersons; but lose by the time we
get away from out introductory humanities
courses, and into the hard-core business and
pre-professional curriculum. Listening to
her reaffirmed the opinion that, if you listen
to an old person long enough, you find out
how they get to be old.
NADER, ON THE other hand, is to be
commended for the respect that he bestows
on his audience, in not taking advantage of
their receptiveness, and testing- their,
willingness to applaud his polemics-an
abuse so many college-circuit lecturers have
been guilty of. Rather, his presentation was
amusing and stimulating, and he seemed to
consciously avoid becoming overly-
sensational in making his points. There is no
need for Ralph Nader to sensationalize-the
- factual matter that he systematically presen-
ts often sounds like the work of a gonzo
satirist. But as he points out, it's only funny
because, "it's just the opposite of the way it
should be."
As his appearance was a part of he National
Association of Student Co-ops (NASCO) con-

food to getting work done on a car. It ends
with the "re-cycling cash flow within the net-
work of consumer co-operatives, before it
spins out into the rest of the economy." In-
clusive within the co-op network is an infor-
mation network of consumer research."The
key to his "micro" approach is proper
management and full memberships in-
volvement. Proper management entails set-
ting up schools to train co-op managers, in or-
der to avoid having to depend on people of
Safeway, or A & P experience, who might in-
ject a corporate perspective into .he
operation.
In the "macro" approach, if the co-op
community develops as it should, its lzrge
cash flow could become real political pover
within the greater community. An object of
this would be to become a political force that
members of Congress would have to: be
responsive to. The ultimate object; of
developing a strong consumer perspective,
Nader said, was to insure the ultimate eur-
pose of our economic system: "to insure-the
health, safety, and economic well-being of
consumers, and to develop economic :ac-
tivities, so as not to jeopardize the rights of
future generations to natural resources."
BOTH HIS OPENING and closing remarks
dealt with the situation of our present
economic system being far away from its
ideal of a classical competitive market
model. "It finds us increasingly losing as con-
sumers... and there is a showdown coming
between the incompatibility of the multi-
national corporations, and the necessities'of
democratic practice in our society. There is
too wide a gap that is not going to be bridged
by stretching the taxpayers thinner and thin-
ner."
Indeed, it seems as if the term "Free En-
terprise System" has become a misnomerfor
the "Corporate Enterprise System". Oneof-
ten hears the response, "I am a Republican
because I beleve in the free enterprise
system." We must ask if these are the saie
Free Enterprise ideals that promote the well
being of small business and codisumer rights.
Democrats and Republicans alike have con-
sistently voted against consumer protection
legislation, and presented the weak argument
that it would allegedly, "force the 'Ma and Pa
grocers' out of business, by puttig
unreasonable demands on them." This i'a
prime example of the "bankruptcy" of The
system that Nader speaks of. The lackof
adequate consumer protection legisation has
done nothing but perpetuate the oligopoly bf
agri-business food industry. The giant foed
conglomerants have grown strong at the'ex-
pense of labor, quality control, and consumher
rip-offs; not to mention the spread: of
nutritional oblivion in this country.
How many small busigesses have been

-
.

'Nll

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