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December 07, 1976 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1976-12-07

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Eighty-Seven Years of Editorial Freedom
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Tuesday, December 7, 1976

News Phone: 764-0552

Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan
Colem---an + shirked his duty
in auto air bag decision

ALMOST EVERY top government of-
ficial is called upon to make
basic decisions of life and death as a
part of his or her, job. The President,
Congress, the Supreme Court, Cabi-
net officials, and even the heads of
minor regulatory agencies must grap-
ple with controversial. issues involv-
ing the health and welfare of theen-
tire nation, questions which rarely
have answers in a consensus of' the
American people.
Secretary of Transportation Wil-
liam Coleman found himself under
the pressure of one such problem
yesterday - whether to require the
installation of air bags on new auto-
mobiles beginning with the 1980 mod-
el year. The government's own study
concluded that such a mandate would
save 9,000 lives and prevent 500,000
serious injuries annually. Other evi-
dence was overwhelmingly favorable
to air bags.
Coleman, who warned the public
of his weakness by unnecessarily de-
laying his decision until after the
presidential election, demonstrated
indifference toward bloody, need-
less highway carnage, and coward-
ice in tfie face of the powerful auto-
mobile manufacturers' interests by
deciding to leave the air bag question,
for the most part, up to the profit-
hungry auto companies themselves.
Shirking his public duty, he decided
only to "urge" the automakers to of-
fer the safety devices as options. It
was almost certainly the 'most fool-
ish and unsupportable ruling of his
entire term as a Cabinet member.
Air bags would offer unmatched
protection for passengers of the death
machines manufactured in Detroit.
They have so far deployed 103 times
Edit qria? Stax
Rob Meachum -. Bill Turque
Jeff Risine .................Managing Editor
Tar Scik........... .....Executive Editor
Stephen Hers ......... Magazine Editor
Rob Meachum .... Editorial Director
Lots Josimovich .......... Arts Editor
STAFF WRrrERS, Susan Ades, Bill Barbour,
Gwen Barr, Susan Barry, Michael Beckman,
Philip Bokovoy, Michael Broidy, Mara Brazer,
Laurie Caruthers, Ken Chotiner, Eileen Daey,
Ron DeKett, Chris Dyhdalo, Nancy Englund,
Scott Eyery, Elaine Fletcher, Larry Friske,
Debra Gale, Owen Gleiberman, Tom Godell,
Nancy Graser, Liz Greenfield, Eric Gressman.
Kurt Harju, Robb Holmes, Michael Jones, Lani
Jordan, Lois Josimovich, Liz Kaplan, Joanne
Kaufman, David Keeps, Janet Klein, Steve
Kursman, Jay Levin, Ann Marie Lipsinki,
George Lobsenz, Dobias Matulonis, Stu McCon-
nell, Deb Meadows, Jennifer Miller, Patty Mon-
temurri, Angie Nicita, Maureen Nolan, Michael
Norton, Jon Pansius, Ken Parsigian, Karen
Paul, Stephen Pickover, Christopher Potter,
Martha Retallick, Bob Rosenbaum, Lucy Saun-
ders, Annemarie Schiavi, Billie 'Scott, Jeffrey
Selbst, Jim Shahin, Tom Stevens, Jim Stimson,
David Strauss, Mike Taylor, Jim Tobin, Pauline
Toole, Keith Tosolt, Susan vintilla, Loran
walker, Linda willcox, Shelley wolson, Mar-
garet Yao, Bill Yaroch, Laurie Young, Andrew
Zerman, Barbara Zahs.

Big St
are fea
ELBERT HENRY GARY, the founder
of U.S. Steel who tried to form a
cartel of steel firms in the early part
of this century, may well have been
proud of recent action taken by the steel
industry to raise its prices. Despite fall-
ing demand for their product, the major
manufacturers of steel instituted the
price increase all in concert; while they
probably did not meet or communicate
with each other to agree about it like
in the infamous Gary dinners thrown
by the founder of Indiana's Dirty City,
they might just as well have.
These things have happened before;
in fact, that steel prices go up (up, al-
ways up) together is pretty much taken
for granted. In most industries, when
this happens it usually starts when the
largest or second largest firm in the
market raises its price first and the rest
then follow. Sometimes they do not fol-
low, and a price war results. Usually,
however, they are 'only too glad to go
along if they are assured that every-
body else will, too.
Jon Pansius is a member of the Mich-
igan Daily Editorial Page staff.




ever, this price leadership process is
reversed. The leading firm, U.S. Steel,
is regarded by the government and oth-
ers as a Giant Corporation; if it initiates
the price increase, it gets bad publicity
and political repurcussions. Being such
a political target, it just sits back and
lets the smaller companies do the dirty
work of announcing the new rises. If
the small fry change prices at - a bad
time, the Big Mama sits pat and takes
all the business away, eventually forc-
ing them to return to the status quo.
Thus, we never, could be sure that the
increases announced by fou; of the small
firms in the beginning would stick until
U.S. Steel and Bethlehem said that they
were going along.
This sort of group action is the re-
sult of tacit collusion made possible by
the steel industry's high concentration of
firms (that is, most of the market is
shared by a few firms) and the ease
of exchanging information between each
other through trade organizations. Ex-
tensive tariff protection and an econom-
ic recession makes raising prices even
easier by removing the threat of entry
of competing firms.
SUPPLIED WITH sufficient motives,


price c
then, the steel industry can raise prices
relatively easily if all the firms can
agree. The motives here are more politi-
cal than economic. True, costs have been
increasing for these firms, but the price
increase outstrips this substantially. As
mentioned before, demand is falling off.
And President-elect Carter has repeated-
ly said that he will not impose wage
and price controls.
Hold it right there. Let us suppose
that Carter did announce that he would
institute controls after he took office.
If that happened, all companies would
stampede to raise their prices to beat
the freeze, so it would have little ef-
fect. We really can't be sure what Car-
ter will do in this except to note that
he seemed inclined towards them dur-
ing the campaign. Of course, campaign
pledges or hints are hardly gospel fact,
so we still have little to go on.
ly clairvoyant, either, but they feel safer
with the hike, just in case. They are
not alone, for these are already rumors
of more price hikes by other industries,
aluminum for example. Firms that use
these materials will also charge more,
creating more inflation that will en-
courage or force workers to seek wage
increases, which will of course encourage

or force industries that employ that la-
bor to raise their prices, and so forth.
All'this stems from fears about possi-
ble price controls, and ironically, might
well lead to them. Carter has promised
more than jobs (something he has found
need for caution about); he also pledged
to restrain inflation. Faced with a new
surge of it, he may have to impose or
suggest some kind of scheme, perhaps
voluntary controls. However, he is not
in office yet, and conditions can be al-
most anything by January 20. President
Ford will most likely do little if anything,
having already stagnated into typical
lame-duck atrophy.
BUT THEN, HE COULD be courage-
ous and active about this anticipatory
action by the steel industry, and do so
without infringing upon the future Car-
ter administration. Several months ago,
he ordered special import restrictions
and tariffs on specialty and other types
of steel. By rescinding this protection of
the steel industry (supposedly for, help-
ing employment there), he could put
competitive pressure upon its firms and
make them think twice about sticking
with their new charges. This would help
mitigate the beat-the-freeze stampede
and give the next administration a bet-
ter chance against inflation.

William Coleman
in real-life traffic accidents, and only
four of the 129 front-seat riders in-
volved in those crashes died. In two
of those instances, investigators de-
termined the crashes were so severe
that no safety device could have
saved the passengers. In a third, an
infant slid off the seat before the
automobile impacted and the air bag
deployed. Improvements in the de-
sign of air bags have reduced the
number of accidental deployments to
negligible levels.
No one can view the films compar-
ing the results of an air bag frontal
crash, wherein the passenger is cush-
ioned by a soft, balloon-like device,
with the maiming effects of an acci-
dent without them, or even with seat
belts alone without realizing their
superior ability to save lives.
cause the automobile companies will
never in a thousand years attempt
to persuade motorists to buy them.
Air bags remind drivers that cars are
dangerous - and that spoils their
sexy image. Because the public, too
ignorant even to fasten their seat
belts, won't buy them even if they are
offered as options. Because 125 peo-
ple dies every day from auto acci-
dents, ending lives worth much more
than the $100 to $300 it would cost
to install -air bags in every car.,
Coleman's gutless decision on pas-
sive restraints needn't be permanent.
President Carter's transportation sec-
retary, whoever he or she may be,
can overrule the decision in January.
Let's hope the next administration
values life a little more than Cole-
man does.
News: Lani Jordan, Ken Parsigion,
Jeff Ristine, Bill T u r q u e, Linda
Edit Page: Michael Beckman, R o b
Meachum, Tom Stevens, Barb Zahs,
Jeff Ristine
Arts Page: L o i s Josimovich, J i m
Photo Technician: Brad Benjamin

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affirmative action
To The Daily:
Labor has proposed revisions to
its Affirmative Action guidelines
which enforce non-discrimina-
tory employment practices poli-
cy of federal contractors. A
group of Michigan citizens, the
People's Coalition for Affirma-
tive Action, has organized a
campaign against implementa-
tion of the revisions. Petitions
and letters requesting a public
hearing in Detroit on this issue
have been denied by Depart.
ment of Labor officials. We
have been directed by them to
go to Chicago on December 13
to deliver testimony instead. A
Michigan delegation of ten will
go to Chicago that day to speak
out against the revisions. We
object to the revisions because
they will reduce the number of
contractors bound to provide
written affirmative action pro-
grams and to go through a re-
view of their plan before re-
newal of their federal con-
tracts. The revisionswill also
allow the Office of Federal Con-
tract Compliance Programs (0
FCCP), which is the affirmative
action enforcing agency, to
shift some of its caseload over
to the Equal Employment Op-
portunity Commission which is
currently disfunctioning with a
120,000 case backlogue. In addi-
tion, greater arbitrary power
has been given the director of
the OFCCP for determining
what constitutes a good faith ef-
fort towards compliance with-
out providing any criteria to
guide him in making that judge-
ment. Further, a violator can
bid for new contracts while un-
dergoing enforcement proceed-
ings foralleged violationsand
the contractor need not show
cause for deficiencies which
continue to exist though orders
for correction have been issued.
sions pose is an enormous one;
not just to women and minority
races but to all those who have
ever been discriminated against
and even to those who have not.
With the government's emphasis

We must make this a visible
issue. The People's Coalition
urges the public to send letters
to the Editor of this paper, to
the Department of Labor, to i
members of Congress, to the
Carter Transition Team, to ra-
dio stations, televisions sta-
tions, etc. to make it clear that
we will have our civil rights
protected, that the revisions
must be withdrawn and that af-
firmative action policy must be
Chris Miller
People's Coalition for
Affirmative Action and
State Chair, N.O.W.
Task Force on Affirma-
tive Action
Dec. 4
thank you
To The Daily:
I WOULD LIKE to thank The
Daily for your excellent cover-
age of my campaign for the
Michigan Student Assembly. I
must give your editorial of No-
vember 30 a great deal of credit
not only for making me one of
the elevencpeople to be elected
bnt, for causing me to gather
the second highest number of
votes of all thirty four candi-
dates. Had you not informed
the student body that in the
Daily's estimation I am imma-
ture, paranoid and an intellec-
tual lightweight; I may not have
received the surprising amount
of support which I did. Once
again, Thank-you.
Irving Freeman
MSA Member
December 4, 1976
To The Daily:
We, the Voluntary Funding
Party, in resnonse to the claim
that we made erroneous state-
ments concerning The Commit-
tee Against Mandatory Funding,
reinvestigated the matter and
found that we had indeed made
a mistake. This was due to our
lack of political experience and
or subsequent reliance on po-
litical sources for our initial

to e
To The Daily:'
BARB ZAHS' article on. bio-
feedback has a number of in-+
accuracies in it. First the in'
formation concerning the stu-
dent who troe up his exam and
screamed during a recent Phys-
ics 240 hourly, was poorly re-
searched. Secondly the unfor-
tunate emphasis of the article
stressed that it was the stu-
dents problem to cope with aca-
demic tension and does not con-
sider that the real problem is

our academic system, or more
specifically with the unfairness
of that particular exam.
According to the people at
the physics 240 exam, who saw
the incident, the student's be-
havior looked and sounded au-
thentic. It is cruel indeed to dis-
miss the anxietyr a student ex-
perienced as a prank and mini-
mize the incident for use as a
lead in to a story about a bio-
feedback class.
ZAHS DOES NOT cite her
sources: An editorial in The


?ress, in despair,

always raids An Arbor,

Daily later told us that her
source was merely an anony-
mous telephone call. But the
caller who admitted that the
scream was a prank, may in
fact not have been the in-
volved student. The Daily is
perpetuating poor journalism
and empty sensationalism in the
University community, instead
of highlighting through exam-
ple, real systemic problems.
Tina Rosenthal,
Mark Melman
December 6

By Marnie. Heyn J


HERE. I've had it.

Whenever the Feature and Magazine people at
the Detroit Free Press are stuck for copy, they
raid Ann Arbor. They ruined the Art Fair, which
used to be a nice local custom. Now fifty thous-
and tourists a day stomp through, nicking fend-
ers, throwing up on lawns, and ripping the turf
on the Diag to little brown hunks.
Then it was the Old China, which used to be
a nice place to go for great not-expensive food
and quiet conversation. You could wander in on
Saturday evening for a tranquil plate of chow
mein. Now you need a machete to get in any
time on the weekend, and you need to be rude
to keep your place in line the rest of the time.
Forget reservations; some people will claim to
be anybody to get a table for four. You can hope
that the jukebox is broken.
I FEEL SORT of guilty for feeling hostile to the
Freep for the Old China's new-found popularity.
It is the best Chinese restaurant in North Ameri-
ca - the best that I know of, anyhow. It's a
family-run. small business, and it deserves to suc-
ceed. But with the mob' traffic, service has de-
teriorated to the vanishing point, and the food
tends to be raw or overcooked. The burden of
fame, perhaps.

LAST SUNDAY'S COLUMN on Ann Arbor bar-
hopping (seriously) took the same tack. The Del
Rio was alleged to have "strange music tapes
and grad students." Grrrr. I was grateful' to know
that Dooley's had an "Aspenlike" decor (hadn't
been able to identify it), but I am not grateful
that bored Detroiters now know how to find Mr.
Flood's and the Del. There's never enough room
as it is. Snotty references to "yogurt-eating, back-
pack-toting students" don't make the cultural im-
perialism any easier to take. There are several
neat bars in Detroit that the Freep never men-
Coleman Young may be deliriously happy with
an upsurge of tourist and convention trade in De-
troit, but I don't feel the same way about pan-
dering this town. In the first place, the area
wasn't designed for crowds (except for Chrysler
and the football stadium, which are surrounded
by congestion before and after each' athletic
event). But more important is the maintenance
of Ann Arbor's proper function as cultural pre-
IF THE FREEP were writing up local pheno-
mena to provide models for people in other areas
to learn from and elaborate on, I wouldn't object.
Other towns could be the richer for arts festivals,
coop garages and markets, crafts guilds, small
classy pubs, decentralized downtown shopping,

KIV -~,"kW ItC Cff jy //ILd n ~ T.~.


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