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February 02, 1978 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily, 1978-02-02

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Page 4-Thursday, February 2, 1978-The Michigan Daily

I*
Ryy
e ~Eighty
Vol. LXXXVIII, No. 102
Edited and m4

r

The plundering of principle

itl igttna tlli

-Eight Years of Editorial Freedom
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
News Phone: 764-0552
anaged by students at the University of Michigan

War of the
MAJOR reorganization has taken
place in Ann Arbor City gover-
nnent, and although the change ap-
pars now to be nothing but beneficial,
ittwill be a while before anyone knows
vtether the streamlining will actually
Work.
,The reorganization plan, engineered
eOtirely by City Administrator
lvester Murray, was implemented
without a single dissenting vote. That
tfie city's Democrats and Republicans
cbuld actually sit down and agree on
thlWplan certainly says something for
its erits
nder the new system, two assistant
qy administrators will be used: one
the budget and finance, and one for
engineering services. Of the two
jsitions the .engineering ad-
iinistrator is the most innovative. The
qpw $30,000 post will oversee some 292
enployees in five departments.
FPart of the logic behind the plan is to
eke a good deal of the load off the back
$ the single City Administrator. Prior
i reorganization, Sy Murray was
sponsible for the operation of 16 city
opartments. Now he retains direct
ontrol over five-the remaining of-
He takes a la

c ity' S

shuffle

fices being divided between the two
assistant positions.
In theory, spreading the burden of
running the city will mean more ef-
ficient operation and more time for
each administrator to be accessible to
city residents.
Proponents of the shuffle maintain
that under the new system, if a nearby
resident should call the city com-
plaining about uncleared streets, they
will get hold of a responsible city of-
ficial much faster than before. If, in
fact, this is the result, the
reorganization will be worth any extra
expenditures incurred during its im-
plementation.
But it is entirely possible that city of-
ficials are using a new system to head
blindly into a new type of bureaucratic
mess. The plan has the potential of
creating more confusion and red tape
than already exists now.
The crucial period for preventing
such a disaster is right now, as
reorganization is being implemented.
If city officials simply remember the
original intent behind their new shuf-
fle, it will achieve the new efficiency
they are seeking.
7ge double-dip

It's hard to say when the idea of principle
disappeared from our culture.
Some of us remember older people for
whom their word was law, their handshake a
contract. "Death before dishonor" is a very
old phrase that bespeaks of such antiques as
the gentleman's code. In fact, the idea that
certain principles might be more important
than material welfare seems quaintly dated,
like your grandmother's chastity. No one can
deny that the mores of our culture have
changed. It seems rare to find a person with a
personal sense of honesty much less honor.
Where the British, for example, were con-
cerned with "doing the right thing," it often
seems that for many the major concern is not
getting caught. This observation is not neces-
sarily useless conservative nostalgia for an-
other age. It remains a fact that in any society
people are largely self-governing. It is their
sense of right and wrong that create the social
fabric, not the police. True, the police may be
effective in dealing with a few abberant in-
dividuals but when an entire society loses a
sense of principle the police become as a few
doctors confronting a plague.
IF PRINCIPLE ever existed in politics it
has disappeared. Or it is more accurate to say
that it has gone unrecognized. This nation,
founded on the principle of natural rights, has
evolved a sort of pragmatic utilitarianism. In
other words, anyone may'be sacrificed to the
greater "social welfare" if he is unfortunate
enough to come out on the short end of the
cost-benefit analysis. Oh, we still talk about
rights but we often don't know what we're
talking about. Rights, for example, are not
commodities asin "a right to decent hous-
ing." Clearly, a commodity has to be pro-
vided by someone else. To call the product
of his labor your right is either to make
a thief of yourself or a slave of him. In
either case rights are no longer principles,
but merely alibis.
It is vitally important to know what prin-
ciple is, for several reasons. The two most im-
portant are to be able to know what we are
doing and to be able to foresee what we are
likely to do. A principle is an abstraction that
marks a path that our thoughts will follow.
One of the ways we evaluate an issue is to
consult our principles. When our principles
are lacking or are unconscious it can result in
confusion and contradiction. Current affairs
provide excellent illustrations of this fact. For
example, many people seeing the harm that
unwanted pregnancies can cause will advo-

One of the ways

we

evaluate an issue is to
consult our principles.
When our principles are

lacking

or are uncon-

scious it can result in'
conf usion and contra-
diction.
cate abortion. Other people, more sensitive to
principle and less pragmatic, will oppose
abortion fearing that a principle will have
been unknowingly established: that life is ex-
pendable for the sake of convenience. Abor-
tion advocates, like 12-year-old shoplifters,
will vehemently deny that anything seriously
wrong will result from this trifle. Yet, the
next step has already taken place with the
pronouncement by the University's own Dr.
Richard Brandt, a prominent philosopher,
that defective infantsought to be "termina-
ted." Modern philosophers tend to think that
ethics, i.e. principles, are merely emotional
gushing. But if we are to establish the prin-
ciple that life is not a higher value than con-
venience let us have the courage to face its
consequences.
PRAGMATISM versus principle collide in
the Bakke case, too. Pragmatists insist that
past discrimination be corrected now by dis-
criminating against the guilty race. Prin-
cipled people will point out that a race cannot
be guilty since individuals, not races are
moral agents, and that reverse discrimina-
tion does-nothing to correct, indeed it perpe-
trates the false principle that one's race de-
termines one's character or ability. Prin-
ciple, you see, has far reaching consequences,
not always obvious but real none the less.
Things don't always turn out the way we
would like them to. Who has not observed a
situation and thought, "how did it come to
this?" In fact, it is often a failure to determine
the underlying principles governing the cour-
se of action that is at fault. That is why it is
possible for a person without principle to

By Gerry Wolke

eventually accept the wvorst evil. Ask Albert
Speer how the Nazis initiated the holocaust
with a false idea, leading to petty harassment
which eventually degenerated into a situation
which shamed a nation of relatively decent
people. I had an argument once with a friend
of mine, a liberal political science professor. I
suggested to him that if he, as a social engi-
neer, were really interested in perfecting
society he would have to take children away
from their parents to be raised in state nur-
series since most character defects and,
therefore, most social problems originate in
the home. "Oh, we wouldn't go that far!" he
answered. The question is "why not?" Why
don't we order people with a spare eye or kid-
-ney to donate them to people who need them?
Why don't we specify "good" books or "good"
speech and ban everything else? When social
utility collides with individual rights, as it has
been doing, how much freedom will we
preserve?
I DON'T MEAN to suggest that there is
any sort of inevitability about any of this.
Principles can be discovered, analyzed, and if
necessary, changed. Often the reluctance to
continue traveling the path that a hidden prin-
ciple has established can cause us to question
it, as for example, the current question of
whether the state can be the cure-all that
many have expected it to be through "New
Deals,:' "Great Societies" and so forth.
What is of utmost importanceis the recog-
nition of principles which govern our thinking
and the analysis of them. For one thing, it can
prevent the sort of absurd contradiction that
liberals and conservatives indulge in when
liberals advocate prohibiting guns even as
they argue that drug or porno prohibitions
never work. Conservatives, of course, claim
exactly the opposite. This shouldn't surprise
us. Inconsistency, confusion, and uncertainty
are the stock in trade of today's politics. They
call it "being pragmatic." Is it any wonderM
that one looks in vain for a Thomas More or
even a Robert Taft? Pragmatism has given
us Nixon, Kissinger, and their heirs.
It is not dogmatism I preach. As Thomas
Paine, a citizen of a young nation of prin-
cipled statesmen put it, "Moderation intem-
per is always a virtue; but moderation in
principle is always a vice." Principle, I sug-
gest, is the basis of integrity and the founda-
tion of order.

ET A GOOD LOOK at this guy.
:V Thomas Johns is a sometime
bodyguard to Secretary of Health, Edu-
Cation and Welfare (HEW) Joseph Cali-
f4no. Working for the federal govern-
kient, Johns earns more than Vice
Fxesident Walter Mondale. In fact, he
ce ld very well be the second highest
cM p ated employee in the govern-
ment._
Johns earns $47,025 a year as admin-
istrative officer and security coordina-
tor for Califano and, in addition to that,
receives $31,200 in yearly pension
checks for the 21 years he spent in the
Secret Service. Johns' earnings may
not come anywhere near President
Carter's $200,000 salary, but his $78,000
does exceed Mondale's pay, as well as
the amount of money Califano makes.
Officials explain this is all perfectly
legal, although some admit the whole
system is a little cockeyed if the second
most expensive government employee
'is not even a familiar face.
One certainly can't criticize Thomas
Johns for his fate. He is, after all, just
a product of the system.
Some encouraging news is that Cali-
fano himself has asked President Car-

"
Gerry Wolfce is one
leading promoters of lib

;M
of Ann Arbor's R~
bertarian thought. Ya
cuts
N1

Tampering with

the tax

Johns

ter to establish a special commission to
look into the pension system and how it
relates to this "double-dipping."
In the meantime, you might as well
know who this guy is. He just may be
asking for a raise pretty soon.

Editorials which appear without a by-line represent a con-
sensus opinion of the Daily's editorial board. All other editorials,
as well as cartoons, are the opinions of the individuals who sub-
....
\ N

By Walter R. Mears
WASHINGTON - President
Carter has a word for Congress
as it prepares to tinker with his
tax cut and reform program:
don't.
But Congress will, as sure as
death and taxes.
SO IT is hard to see what Car-
ter gained with his warning that
any changes in his economic
game plan will risk putting the
whole thing out of whack.
Carter said his economic
program is too finely tuned to be
altered without inviting trouble.
That stakes out a firm
bargaining position on the tax
measures and jobs programs he
has recohnmended to Congress.
In the end, there almost surely wi
In the end, there almost surely will
have to be some compromise, but
that can be worked out between
the White House and Congress.
HOWEVER, Carter can't
negotiate, and he has said he
won't seek to legislate, the volun-
tary inflation control system he
listed as a key element of his
economic blueprint. That request
for wage and price restraint un-
der voluntary guidelines has run
into opposition from big labor and
skepticism in the business com-
munity.
The president said long ago he
would not seek authority to en-
force wage and price restraints,
so he doesn't have much to
bargain with on that point.
All he can do is ask for
cooperation, as he did at his news
conference on Monday.
"ECONOMIC policy depends,
for its success, on a very careful
balance between different in-
terests, between sometimes con-
flicting national needs, between
doing too much on the one hand,
doing too little on the other," the
president said. "To modify one
element of a balanced plan can
often destroy this balance and
can aggravate our economic
problems.
He said his proposals strike the
right balance, with a net tax
reduction of $25 billion, counting
the $9 billion that would be saved

%///'W t!Tr'nnedooktt I s gtr
'Wait! There's no need to hook that up - I just -felt a light breeze!'

chairman of the House Ways and
Means Committee, has expressed
concern at the net cost of the Car-
ter tax package.
So he's talking about paring
down the reductions.
On the other hand, there's
pressure to raise the ante, and
Ullman is concerned that it will
grow stronger when the tax bill
reaches the Senate.
CARTER said his jobs
program, including $1.1 billion in
new funds for youth jobs and to
encourage private business to
hire the unemployed, also are a
crucial element in a balanced

AFL-CIO President George
Meany already has denounced the
proposed restraints, calling them
a step in the road towards con-
trols. There is evidence of that
concern among businessmen,
too.
With all those pressures at
work, Carter will have quite a job
keeping the balance he said is
essential. His insistence that the
program should not be altered
recalls his position at the start of
the long, still inconclusive fight
for an energy bill.
At the outset, he proposed a
nickle a gallon gasoline tax to
penalize excessive consumption,
and vowed to "fight for it until the

much.
This time he has staked out a
fallback position, of sorts.
He said the four phases of his
economic blueprint have to go
together. Then he added:
"If the Congress should change4
any of those factors-which I a
hope they will not-then we would
have to use our own influence in
the 'Congress and-with the
American people to try ,t induce
them to accept some reasonable
alternative which would still keen
a balanced economic package."
Walter Mears is a special

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