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July 18, 1978 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily, 1978-07-18

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Page 4-Tuesday, Jule 8, 1978-The Michigan Daily

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4michigan DAILY
Eighty-eight Years of Editorial Freedom
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Ml. 48109
Vol. LXXXV1II, No. 45-S News Phone: 764-0552
Tuesday, July 18, 1978

The black market: A
way of lje in Burma

Edited and managed by students
at the University of Michigan
Women need clear
state abortion policy
GOVERNOR MILLIKEN faces a bill this
week that would limit a woman's right to a
state-paid abortion unless the abortion is per-
formed for "therapeutic" reasons.
The thoughtless elimination of most Medicaid
abortions is part of the state's $2.5 billion welfare
budget that the legislature approved before ad-
journment two weeks ago.
While pro-choice forces are urging a veto of the
bill, abortion foes would like the as yet undecided
governor to sign it.
One controversy surrounding the abortion part
of the welfare bill is the definition of
"therapeutic." Many legislators have said they
find the word therapeutic only applicable in cases
in which the mother's health would be en-
dangered if she carries the fetus to birth. Since
the bill lacks a definition of "therapeutic," it is
open to such extreme interpretation.
By stating that Medicaid should pay only for
those abortions needed for "therapeutic"
reasons, the bill discriminates against poor
women who cannot afford abortions without
financial help.
If the governor signs the bill as it now stands,
the vague wording will only enforce that
discrimination and invade the rights of poor
women.
If Milliken vetoes this portion of the bill, it
would go back to the legislature. There it could
be subject to stringent definitions of therapeutic
- definitions that could hurt the cause of abor-
tion supporters.
But if the legislature wants a narrow definition
of "therapeutic," it's best that Milliken and the
people in Michigan know that that's what it wan-
ts. For Milliken to sign the bill without knowing
the intention of the lawmakers would be a blind
intrusion into the rights of poor women.
The legislature should be forced to hash over
the abortion section of the bill, and should come
up with a definition of "therapeutic." Then let
Milliken decide whether or not he wants that
definition to become law.

By Al Hrapsky
Years of isolation and a
fledging economy have produced
a dearth of information and con-
sumer goods in socialist Burma.;
Inevitably, the Burmese rely on
tourists, the odd bootlegger, and
more organized operators for
everything from news of world
politics to medicines.

caught smuggling or selling large
quantities do they arrest people".
From Thailand come textiles.
medicines and toilet articles
which are exchanged for rubies,
other precious gems and art
treasures. At the Bangladesh
border, relief medicines and
clothes flow in as Burmese rice
slips out. India sends sewing

INAw

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..

usually proves frustrating.
People often queue up for hours
only to discover that everything
has been sold.
Although censorship exists and
criticism of the government is not
tolerated, the Burmese seem to
have some small measure of
freedom. The radio stations
broadcast anything from
classical Burmese music to the
Beatles top tunes, tear-jerking
Indian movies are shown, and it
is legal to possess certain uncon-
troversial publications. The
people, however, are starved for
news of the outside world. Many
want to know how much money
tourists earn at home, where
they've travelled, and what
products are available in their
native countries. The slow trickle
of tourists is also a consistent
source for the temporary novels
of the literate.
MOST INTERNATIONAL
political observers and
economists blame the ineffective
government of ruling General Ne
Win for Burma's current
economic plight. Until 1962 when
Ne Win assumed power, in-
stalling a revolutionary council of
military bureaucrats as gover-
ning polity, Burma boasted the
world's largest exportable rice
surplus. Today, however, only a
fraction of its previous tonnage is
produced (approximately 250,000
tons as compared to two million).
Ne Win's socialism is a unique
blend of Buddhism and Marxism
and as one political foe put it, "A
scrambled egg, but nevertheless,
a Marxist egg". The General's
"Burmese Road to Socialism,"
however, has been one of
economic ruin and the general
populace suffers a decline in
living standards.
Al Hrapsky is a former associate
sports editor of the Daily who recently
completed an Asian tour.

.ih

.j

From the moment tourists
leave Rangoon's Mingaladon air-
port they are confronted with the
ever-present black market. Most
travellers sell alcohol and tobac-
co to cab drivers and small
shopkeepers at two to three times
their original cost. Johnny
Walker Black, Red Label Scotch,
British Dunhill and "555"
cigarettes fetch the highest
prices. Shrewd businessmen, the
Burmese are seldom tempted to
pay top dollar for comparable
brands like Chivas Regal or
Marlboro (the largest selling
cigarette in the world).
BURMA'S BLACK market
economy is centered in Man-
dalay, 430 miles north of
Rangoon, where consumer
products pour in from neigh-
boring Thailand, India, and
Bangladesh. According to the
New York Times, all smuggled
goods account for about two-
thirds of the national foreign
trade. Mandalay's central
location along the banks of the
Irrawaddy River and its enter-
prising merchants make it an
ideal city for the flourishing
trade.
Although tourists and local
merchants exchange American
dollars and kyatt, the national
currency, in hotel rooms and
shops, the city's Zeygo market is
perfectly open. Scores of stalls
bisect the center of town where
merchants peddle western
clothing, toys, toilet articles,
medicines, candy, and other
goods from 6a.m. to 9 p.m. every
night. As one affable vendor at
the bazaar said: "This is tlhe

machines, World War II jeeps,
and contraceptives (free in that
nation).
ALTHOUGH MORE distant,
Malaysia exports goods to Burma
receiving tin and rubber in
return. "Seven-Up," canned in
Singapore, can be had in the
market for $.0 to $2. On the
street I purchased a 1968 edition
of Life Magazine with the Beatles
on the cover for $1. I was tempted
to buy a can of "Burma Shave"
but when the merchant realized I
had a keen interest in it he raised
the already inflated price.
For most Burmese the black
market is unavoidable. A local
doctor explained that while
physicians can prescribe drugs,
they cannot provide them. Their
patients then, must turn to the
black market where they might
buy aged and useless penicillan.
Some of the drugs on the street -
their labels yellowed and worn -
looked like they survived the
second world war! But buting
from a government regulated
store is a poor alternative and

r
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'a ~
C
11

4

Letters should be typed and limited
to 400 words. The Daily reserves the
right to edit letters for length and
grammar.

Contact your reps
Sen. Donald Riegle (Dem.), 1205 Dirksen Bldg., Washington,
Ic. 20510
Sen. Robert Griffin (Rep.), 353 Russell Bldg., Capitol Hill,
Washington, D.C. 20515
Rep. Carl Pursell (Rep.), 1709 Longworth House Office Bldg.,
Washington, D.C. 20515
Sen. Gilbert Bursley (Rep.), Senate. State Capitol Bldg., Lan-
sig,'MI 48933
Rep. Perry Bullard (Dem.), House of Representatives, State
Capitol Bldg., Lansing, M1 48933

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