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March 18, 1978 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily, 1978-03-18

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Page 4-Saturday, March 18, 1978-The Michigan Daily

Eighty-Eight Years of Editorial Freedom
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Vol. LXXXVIII, No. 132
News Phone: 764-0552
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan
t
Regents' S. Africa investment
decision: Sugar-coated racism

HURSDAY THE Regents had an
opportunity to take a gold' first
step in the world's struggle to free
'South African blacks from the racist,
tyrannical reign of Prime Minister
John Vorster - they didn't.
The crowd of over 200 students and
tfaculty members knew what action
needed to be taken - total divestiture
of all University holdings in banks or
corporations with ties to South Africa
but the Regents weren't up to the
assignment. Instead, they voted to
;retain the University's investments
providing the corporations take steps
to insure fair treatment of blacks in the
' factories.
The decision also stipulates that the
University will consider divesting it-
self of stock in any corporation that
t expands =its existing operations in
South Africa. On the subject of banks,
.the University will withdraw its money
from any bank making loans to South
Africa unless it can be demonstrated
that the money is being used to benefit
the blacks.
It must be clearly understood that
while this new plan is certainly an im-
provement over the University's past
policy, it is, nonetheless, wholly insuf-
ficient.
The American corporations which
operate in South' Africa are the very
backbone of the Vorster regime. Every
American dollar spent there breathes
life into that minority government and
'weighs heavy on the backs of the en-
-slaved South African blacks.
There can be no room for
'equivocation on this issue. Any move
that is designed to keep American
money in South Africa is a vote for
racism,and the Regents' new plan is
just that.-
Many organizations have been
trying for years to effect a change in
SSouth Africa by working through the
American corporations there, and they
have all failed. These investments only
bolster the current government, and
there is no changing that.
The Regents themselves
acknowledge this, but only partially.
"They said they would consider
divestiture if a corporation were to ex-
'V
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"IR5o
AUSpt

1 Oi
SponsoraGr
A TWO DAY swim-a-thon, starting
this Sunday, kicks off Greek
Week - seven days of assorted fund
raising events for charity sponsored by
the University's Panhellenic

pand its South African operations. The
assumption behind this decision is that
if a corporation increases its capital
expenditures in South Africa, the
money would go right into the pockets
of the Vorster government. But that is
where the money is going right now. If
the Regents are perceptive enough to
see that corporate expansion at this
point will only help the racists, how can
they be so naive as to believe that con-
tinued corporate presence will lead to
majority rule?
The only thing that will crumble
Vorster and Co. is total corporate
divestiture and stringent trade and
economic sanctions. And the only
University action that could be con-
sistent with this, at least in tone and
commitment if not in effect, is total
divestiture and vociferous public con-
demnation qf the racists.
But for the moment we are saddled
with this new, moderate policy, and it
would be a shame for us not to make
full use of it. As it now stands, the
Regents plan kto have Vice President
for Financial Affairs James
Brinkerhoff write to those corporations
with South African ties in which we
own stock, and inform them of our
position. This is hardly an adequate
display of our concern and outrage. In-
stead, we suggest the Regents appoint
a University officer (Vice Presidents
Brinkerhoff, Shapiro and Kennedy or
President Fleming would be good
choices) to attend the next
stockholders meeting of a corporation
with South African ties in which we
own stock, and voice the University's
opinion publicly.
In addition, the representative could
propose various courses for that cor-
poration to follow which would be
favorable to the black South Africa ns'
liberation. This would not only be more
effective than a letter, but it would in-
crease awareness of the problem and
persuade more groups and
organizations to join the fight.
The Regents have chosen to be
cautious when incisive action is called
for, so the least they can do is to make
the best use of the moderate stance
they have taken.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -
Freight cars exploding in Florida
and Tennessee spewing deadly
gas and bursting with propane
liquid gas sent shock waves
across the nation. With nearly 30
innocent victims dead, hundreds
injured and thousands displaced
from their homes even more than
a week after the derailment,
everyone living, working and
traveling anywhere near freight
railroads cannot avoid concern.
With more than 200,000 miles of
railroad roadbed in America,
blasts from volatile gases and
leaking toxic chemicals could
happen anywhere. To combat
these continuing threats both the
secretary of transportation and
the head of the National Tran-
sportation Safety Board have
come up with a new scheme: they
would build steel shields on the
tank cars to protect against rup-
ture, and increase track inspec-
tion frequency.
STEEL SHIELDS for all the
tank cars in this country would
cost no less than $100 million, and
the plan is to put them on new
cars as they roll from the produc-
tion lines. They would not
necessarily be put on existing
cars, and, in any case, they would
take many years to become effec-
tive. Nor have the transportation
planners suggested where the
money will come from. Most rail
tankecars inthe U.S.mare owned
by shippers. A small percentage
are owned by the railroads them-
selves. In either case this money
will have to come out of their
pockets.
Ironically, Americans have
been fighting an epidemic of
potholes in out cities and out on
the highways this year at the
same time that we've been hit
with an epidemic of railroad
lerailments. The seeming coin-
cidence is not accidental.
Extreme winter weather has
been a part of the problem
because poorly maintained roads
and poorly maintained railroads
are subject to frost heaves. But
more important, our highways,
roadways and railways have
been heavily used, and need
much more maintenance and
repair than they are getting -
something the national highway
trust fund does not pay for. States
and local jurisdictions have been
hit very hard to come up with the
$13 billion or more required each
year to keep up with the
minimum level of maintenance.

The clack of
deadly tracks
By Mason Wren

railroad survival and realization
by individual railroads that they
must rededicate themselves to
building up track."
Furthermore, Modern
Railroads gave its 1978 man-of-
the-year award to Robert M.
Brown, chief engineer of the
Union Pacific Railroad, because
he best epitomized the event of
the year: the industry-wie
resurgence of ;track im-
provement programs. From all
available evidence Brown ap-
pears to be an outstanding
engineer and his Union Pacific
track excels most others. Yet to
grasp how bad the shape of'track
in this country must be, imagine
what the equivalent awards
would be in other transportation
industries.
Suppose Motor Trend
Magazine awarded the
automobile industry its annual
award for "realizing that tires
are essential." Or suppose
Aviation Week gave the aircraft
industry an award for realizing
that wings are essential.
WHAT'S WRONG? In 1974 a
highly qualified group of railroad
people was appointed to make an
in-depth study of railroad produc-
tivity and to present this report to
the Council of Economic Advisors
at the White House. They did this,
and although their excellent
report is little known outside the
profession, it is one of the most
important studies of that industry
to be done in generations.
'Near the end of this massive
report the task force concluded,
"Many railroads do not know thea
cost of maintaining track as a
function of train speeds and track
use, nor the cost of wear to track
by the use of hundred-ton
capacity freight cars."
How an industry can exist and
prosper if it does not know its
costs - all of its costs, and
especially for railroads the costs
of maintaining track - is baf-
fling.
MasonT Wren is a pseudIOc in
for a highItrel Federal
exer'utire in Washington rho
has spent orer 3t) years in
transportation managernent
and has written acidelv on: the
subject. He writes this article
for the Pacific News Serrice.

'I've been working on the railroads. . .

Congress was persuaded to come
up with a quick $250 million to
fill potholes. Congress does not
come up with that kind of money
for railroads. ,
If all the essential maintenance
on the railroads could be done, it
would cost between $12 and $20
billion right now. That is the
enormous fact America's private
railroads have to face. The old
railroads can keep up their track
while the poor railroads get wor-
se as they defer maintenance.
The bankrupt railroads of the
Northeast let their roadbeds go to
ruin and then dumped that mess
into the hands of the government.
More than 8,000 derailments
are reported a year in this coun-
try, 500 or more involving hazar-
dous cargoes that pose a threat to
everyone. But is there a way to
force the railroads to keep up
maintenance as a result of in-
creased inspection? And if in-
spection shows them to be unsafe,
then what? Will the government
shut them down?
To understand the crux of this

complex issue is to understand
how railroad cars stay on the
track.
FOR COMPLICATED reasons
the railroads operate freight
trains that are too long and cars
that are too heavy, and they have
permitted the center of gravity of-°
these cars to get too high. All of
these conditions destroy track.
High quality track, which
should have a useful life of 500 to
800 million tons per mile,
frequently is destroyed at 50
million tons per mile by the
damage done by heavy cars, long
trains and unwise operating
practices.
Something has to give, and the
result is frequently a derailment.
IT IS TIME we listened to the
experts and got to the root of the
problem. Last year the
prestigious railroad magazine,
Modern Railroads, found that the
most significant event of 1977 was
"the realization by the industry
that good track is the key to

SO, WHEN
epidemic was

the pothole
diagnosed,

Rallying around the mminers

For three months we've been on strike. Now
President Carter has invoked the Taft-
Hartley, attempting to force us back to work.
Even Arnold Miller and George Meany have
tried to break our strike by calling for federal
seizure, of the mines. These actions are a
reflection of our growing strength.
-Mine workers at a strike
rally in Charleston, W. Va.
One week ago last night, a car caravan
began to form at Clark Park in Detroit for a
ten-hour trip to Charleston, West Virginia,
where a rally in support of striking coal
miners was to be held the following day.
Several of us from the University - members
This article was written by members of
the Revolutionary Communist Youth
Brigade.
of the Revolutionary Communist Youth
Brigade - were there at one a.m. when the
workers from auto, hospital and other in-
dustries began to arrive for the trip. The cops
cruised by several times to check us out as we
loaded up the food and a truckload of
donations.
THE RALLY was being organized by the
Miner's Right to Strike Committee (MRTSC)
and the National United Workers'
Organization (NUWO), and they were calling
on workers from around the country to come
out to support the strike. As the call said:
"The ownership class thinks it is so al-
mighty, but they'll find out that without us,
coal won't get mined." The miners are
demanding the right to strike, retention of
free health care, increases in pensions and
other benefits.
As we arrived at the Federal Building, con-
tingent after contingent of workers rolled in
- steel from Cleveland and Gary; electronics
workers from Boston; garment workers from

New York's Chinatown and the textile in-
dustry in the South, and many others. Miners
kept coming by as the marchers formed up to
talk to workers from other parts of the coun-
try. Altogether, over 500 workers from the
East and Midwest joined miners from West
Virginia as the march moved out.
HUNDREDS OF people lined the streets as
the marchers moved through town and
proceeded to demonstrate in front of a coal
company office before moving on to an out-
door rally. There was clear support for the
marchers' chants of "To Hell With the Rich
Class, We Are the Working Class!" and "A
Victory for the Miners is a Victory for Our
Class!"
One woman who later joined the march ex-
pressed her feelings: "There's been some
talk over our way about going back to work,
but there's no way in hell we're going to let
the coal companies get us to throw away five
months of hard work!"
Coal miners who marched at the head of the
march wore red bandanas over their faces to
protect themselves from being arrested by
federal marshals for organizing miners to
violate the Taft-Hartley injunction. One of the
miners explained that the term "red-neck"
originally came from workers who similarly
wore bandanas in the great coal strikes of the
1930's. "Today," he said, "we're standing up
against these bosses, and we're going to make
red-neck' a word to be proud of."
LATER, AT an indoor rally, worker after
worker cane up to the microphone to speak of
what an inspiration the miners' strike has
been to them, and of the solidarity that the
people felt with the miners where they
worked. Thousands-of "Support the Miners"
buttons have been sold; tens of thousands of
dollars have been collected at plant gates; as

well as thousands of signatures on support
statements.
A march organizer explained the
significance of Saturday's rally by saying
that "for the first time in many years,
workers from many different industries have
organized to support a strike by one section of
their class - pinpointing that strike as partof
the battle between the working class andthe
capitalist class. There are only two sides in
this strike: the side of capital and the sideiof
labor; the side of exploitation and slavery and
the side of brotherhood and working class
solidarity." As we left we all had a sense that
something historic had happened last Satur-
day.
Today the workers' struggle takes shape
mainly in battles like this strike. But as con-
ditions get worse, and with the steady leader-
ship of communists active in the struggle, the
movement will one day go over to battles
against every kind of oppression and even-
tually to the overthrow of the capitalist class.
The miners' strike brings to life the words of
Frederick Engels, one of the founders of
communism: "People who can sacrifice so
much to bend a single bourgeoisie can cer-
tainly overthrow the whole bourgeoisie . ..
THE REVOLUTIONARY Communist
Youth Brigade calls on all youth and students.
A tremendous battle is raging and lines are
being drawn. As the militant miners' song of
the thirties goes, "Which side are you on?"
Students and youth have a proud history of
fighting against injustice and oppression. The
miners are going against all the odds and
every obstacle. Their courage, unity, and
determination are inspiring. Let's close ranks
behind the miners! Victory to the miners! For
information about ongoing work, call us at
995-8957, or drop by 4105 in the Michigan
Union during our office hours.

eek for charity

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f
r

You don't have to belong to a frater-
nity or sorority to help out. Financial
sponsors are needed for each person
participating in the swim-a-thon and
the dance marathon. Pledges can be
mare nr Inn for the ximmers nDer

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