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February 02, 1980 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1980-02-02

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Page 4-Saturday, February 2, 1980-The Michigan Daily

Ninety Years of Editorial Freedom

A

'60s activist views crises

confrontingAmerica in 1980

Vol. XC, No. 101

News Phone: 764-0552

Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan
New editorial policies

At a time when Jimmy Carter, his
Democratic and Republican rivals for the
presidency, the Congress, and the news
media all agree about the danger to the
United States posed by events in far away
places, it is well to remember the experiences
of the 1960s. In the sixties, events in distant
Vietnam were deemed crucial to American
interests. If we did not stop Communism
there, we were told, nation after nation
would fall until we were left to fight alone.
The government and the news media gave us
only a very distorted picture of the origins of

A S THE NEW. editors of this page
assume office, the time would
seem right to clarify and explain our
editorial policies.
There are four fundamental
categories into which editorial page
material falls: left side editorials,
right side editorials, letters, and car-
toons. Of these, only the first appears
every day of publication.
The "leftside" is the opinion of
a majority of the Daily editorial board
members and is therefore unsigued.
The issues covered range from
University matters to international
relations. The political stances
represented, of course, will reflect the
changing composition of the staff.
The right side of the editorial page is
a forum for the thoughts of individual
staffers, students, faculty, and com-
munity members, plus some material
from national press syndicates.
"Rightsides" are signed and do not
necessarily represent the opinions of
the editors or the editorial board. As
the purpose of the right side is to
provide as broad a spectrum of ideas
as possible, submissions are accep-
ted for publication virtually without
regard to the opinions of the writer.
A note of clarification: "Rightsides"
occasionally appear spanning the top
of the page, rather than in the spot

their name would indicate.
Letters to the editor serve

ap-

proximately the same purpose as
rightsides. Often, they address in-
dividual points in pieces that have
previously appeared, rather than
examining an issue in a more thorough
fashion.
In the past, some rightsides and let-
ters have been signed by
organizations, rather than by the par-
ticular authors. Henceforth, individual
signatures will appear.
On the rare occasions that a writer's
situation warrants it, letters will ap-
pear with the author's name withheld.
All correspondents, however, must
identify themselves to the editors.
Letters and rightsides must be
typed, triple-spaced, with 3/4 inch
margins. The editors reserve the right
to edit submissions for clarity, length,
grammar, and spelling.
The last, and perhaps the most
popular feature of the editorial page, is
cartoons. Though cartoons sometimes
illustrate left- or rightsides, they are
normally not to be construed as
representing the Daily's opinion, no
matter where on the page they appear.
We look forward to response from
our readers on matters of policy or
politics, and hope we may never be ac-
cused of being immune to criticism.

THOUSANDS OF DEMONSTRATORS
gathered inDWashington, D.C. to protest the
war in Vietnam during the 60s.
the Vietnam conflict in the early days of
American involvement. In 1964 President
Johnson secured from Congress the Tonkin
Gulf resolution condemning North Vietnam
for an alleged attack on an American ship in
the waters off Vietnam and bringing a major
escalation of America's role in the war. Even-
tually the facts surrounding the Tonkin Gulf
resolution were revealed in the Pentagon
Papers: The United States had for two mon-
ths been waging a covert war against North
Vietnam; the Johnson administration had a.
Congressional resolution prepared long
before the incident in the Tonkin Gulf.
.Today we are told that events in
Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf are crucial
to American interests. We are asked to
become enraged over an alleged Soviet in-
vasion of Afghanistan. We are told that we
must revive registration for the draft and
renew cold war confrontation with the Soviet
Union. Even before some future Pentagon
Papers reveal, the full story of Carter ad-
ministration planning in the present situation,
it is already evident that this administration
had taken numerous moves to return to the
Cold War before latching onto the Iran and
Afghanistan events to create the climate for
officially proclaiming the new policy of con-
frontation and preparation for military inter-
vention.
THE PROTESTS against the Vietnam War
were limited at first because most people ac-
cepted the explanations of the government on k
the morality of fighting communism. Fifty
thousand American youth and one million
Vietnamese died before the United States
withdrew from that country. Since then,

By Marty Halpern
politicians have expressed awareness that
most Americans do not want to become in-
volved in foreign adventures against com-
munism or other societies our government
does not like. The militaristic-minded have
complained about this "post-Vietnam syn-
drome." Most Americans did, in fact, become
much more skeptical about our government's
truthfulness as a result of the experience of
the Vietnam War. The war meant not only
terrible destruction of Vietnam but great
harm to U.S. soldiers and Americans at
home. The war brought inflation and
economic crisis, an ending of the "war on
poverty," and a slowing of progress on civil
rights. The termination of the war did not
bring an end to these problems, in large part
because of the continuing enormous increases
in military expenditures and the "guns not
butter" focus of government policy.
The two presidents we have had since the
ending of the war were both strong suppor-
ters of American involvement in Vietnam.
Carter and company did not learn the lesson
that it was futile for the United States to try to
be the world policeman. Instead, Carter and
his advisors set out to merely '"repackage"
our foreign policy. Well, the similarities are
just too obvious to thosewho lived through the
Vietnam war:
* Young people are once again forced to
register for the draft;
a Another holy crusade is being made
against communism;
.* Once again we must police a distant area
(this time the Persian Gulf) to prevent "out-
siders" from taking over.
"Persian Gulf oil-a vital interest"-this is
the "practical" reason we are supposed to
swallow as the basis for our fighting the new
cold war. It is not just a crusade against
communism; it's in the interests of the
average Americans. Nothing could be further
from the truth. If there really were a war
between the United States and the Soviet
Union over the Persian Gulf, this would lead
at least to the destruction of the oil fields if not
the nuclear annihilation of the U.S., U.S.S.R.,
and the rest of the world. Carter is saying for
public consumption that it's an outside big
power threat to the Persian Gulf that con-
cerns us, just as his predecessors said they
feared an expansion of Chinese power if the
"communists" won in Vietnam. But as was
the case in Vietnam, Carter's real fear is that
the ordinary peoples of the Persian Gulf will
take full control of the resources of that
region, including oil, undermining the power
which the U.S. and West European oil com-
panies still retain over the distribution of
much of the world's oil supply. This issue is
the one that really underlay the Vietnam con-
flict-the U.S. government's desire to keep
open as many regions of the world as possible
for the U.S. corporations to do business on
their own terms.

THE STAKES MAY be higher now because
the profits of the oil companies are un-
believably great. For the rest of us, however,
protecting oil company control of Middle East
oil supplies will mean only sacrifice of lives
and money. In fact, the success of such an ef-
fort will make it even more difficult to control
the oil company monster at home. How can
we cry for the oil companies when EXXON
alone made a reported four billion dollars in
profits last year? How can we jump t6 the aid
of the oil companies when they're robbing us
at the gas pump and when we try to heat our
homes? The times call for a crusade, not
against the people of the Persian Gulf, but
against the oil company stranglehold on the
American government and American foreign
and domestic policy.
It may take a while for all the issues to
emerge clearly, but eventually we will have
to solve the problems created by the Carter
policy turn in a way opposite to that proposed
by Carter: No draft; no foreign adventures;*
respect each country's right to control its own
resources and develop fair trade relations on
that basis; move forward again on arms
negotiations with the Soviet Union, leading to
nuclear disarmament; nationalize the oil
companies; reduce the military budget and
put these tremendous funds toward programs
to guarantee jobs for all; health care as a
matter of right; rebuilding the cities; im-
proving education and protecting the en-
vironment.
Carter has calculated that we have forgot-
ten the lessons of the Vietnam War. A united
mass movement can prove him wrong.

A welcome'vi olation of
international law' in Iran

Y ET ANOTHER party was accused
of a "blatant violation of inter-
national law" in connection with the
Iran situation Wednesday. This time,,
Iranian Foreign Minister Sadegh
Ghotzbadeh assailed the Canadian
government for its' rescue of six
American diplomats trapped in
Tehran when the hostages were taken'
at the U.S. embassy.
After hiding the Americans for 12
weeks in their embassy, the Canadians
provided them with fake passports,
and then spirited them out of Iran
while the Islamic regime was occupied
with national elections.
The Canadian embassy staff and
government are to be commended for
unflinchingly involving themselves in a
situation that endangered them both
physically and, perhaps, financially,
should the Iranians take punitive ac-
tion.
The rescue may have been useful to
the U.S. in several ways. The Iranian
response to the move again brought to
the fore the stark absurdity of
Khomeini's and the militants' position.
Ghotz badeh's railing against the
Canadians must have looked rather
foolish in the world's eyes, in view of
the fact that the initial Iranian
violatiori of international law is what

necessitated the rescue in the first
place. Ghotzbadeh's version of inter-
national law seems to be that the U.S.,
having brought the Shah to power,
should now be deprived of any legal
protection, whereas Iranians may pick
and choose those elements of the law
that appeal to them, in whichever
situations suit their fancy.
It is relatively rare that governmen-
tal claims ofthe need for secrecy are
justified, but the Carter ad-
ministration's decision to keep the
whole affair under wraps was clearly
the only possible course of action. It is
in fact a relief in this case that all who
knew about the Americans in hiding
were persuaded to hold their tongues.
Had Khomeini or the militant mobs
even gotten word of the Americans'
presence in the Canadian embassy,
blood might well have been the cost.
Until the Iranian crisis began;*
Americans had been feeling more and,
more despised by other nations. We
have earned some of that hostility.
Reza Pahlevi was not the first
totalitarian ruler this country has sup-
ported; Pakistani president Zia will
evidently be the next. But in this in-
stance, the U.S. is clearly in the right.
It is gratifying that Canada,'by its bold
rescue, has recognized that simple
truth.

STUDENTS AT ONE anti-war protest wave
an upside-down American flag to signify their
dislike of American policies.
Marty Halpern was a member of the
Steering Committee of the- Ann Arbor
New Mobilization Committee to End the
War in Vietnam. He was also chairman of
the Moratorium Day rally on Oct. 15,
1969 in Michigan Stadium. Currently, he
is a graduate student in history.

0i

Che
Michigan's five major utility
companies spend at least $6
million annually to get rate in-
creases, and these expenditures
are charged to their customers.
With well-trained, full-time staf-
fs specializing in public service
hearings, these utilities pursue
the energy and rate policies they
desire. At hearings of the
Michigan Public Service Com-
mission (MPSC), the state's
utility regulatory body, in-
dividual ratepayers and citizens
groups may challenge the rate
increases and energy alter-
natives proposed by thes~e
utilities.
Yet PIRGIM, and this year, the
Michigan Citizen Lobby, are the
only groups that consistently in-
tervene on behalf of residential
ratepayers. It is clear that utility
intervention groups must be
maintained and strengthened to
insure that a harmony of the
public's and the utilities' in-
terests can be achieved. Effec-
tive utility intervention can help
insure that public needs, as well
as private interests, are a factor
in the formulation of utility prac-
tices and policies.
THE PRESENT system is
severely biased towards the in-
terests of the utilities. Rate struc-
ture and determination, as well
as the choice of energy alter-
natives, all take place in forums
designed to promote the com-
panies' wishes. Consumers
Power Company has 19 attorneys
working full-time on hearings at
the MPSC. The Michigan Attor-
ney General has only 3 lawyers to
cover all five utilities represen-
ting residential, commercial and
industrial ratepayers. PIRGIM
has only one full-time attorney.
Certain MPSC procedures also
favor the utilities. For many

cking u
Michigan's five major utilities
asked for rate hikes of $826
million in 1979. They pursue
energy policies that are highly
controversial. And they charge
their customers for the costs of
promoting these policies, both
before the MPSC and outside of
the MPSG in local communities.
Who advocates the interests of
individuals in the complex arena
of utility intervention?
PIRGIM'S UTILITY Interven-
tion Project (UIP) has inter-.
vened in every major electric
rate case since 1974. Staffed by an
attorney, professional legal
researchers, and students, UIP
participation has included formal
intervention, presentation of ex-
pert's testimony, and submission
of briefs and other pleadings. This
on-goihg effort has challenged
both simple rate increase
requests and more complex
questions of rate structure and
energy policy. Through an
examination of two current
cases, we can see the scope and
intent of PIRGIM's UIP.
Detroit Edison Securities Case
(MPSC No. U-6217) deals with
Edison's proposed financing of
new power plant construction.
Edison contends that it must
meet future power demands
through the construction of cen-
tral station nuclear power plants.
The proposed Greenwood nuclear
project (near Port Huron) can be
financed through the sale of
securities only with the per-
mission of the MPSC. PIRGIM
has challenged this proposal,
claiming that Edison's future
power load does not justify this
new construction.
All utilities must try to project
power loads to estimate future
needs. Accurate demand
forecasting is essential to assure

tihty power

(for example, nuclear plants run
about a billion dollars each these
days), discourages conservation,
and ultimately is an added cost to
ratepayers.
ACCORDING TO Ron Knechyt
of the California Energy Com-
mission (expert witness for~
PTRGIM in this case), utilities
have failed to respond to changes
in the energy "climate." By
using old planning assumptions
that assume continual growth in
power demand, utilities ignore
indeniable trends towards less
growth and increased energy
conservation.And they could end
up with expensive, unheeded
power as a result.
PIRGIM has challenged the
excessive reserve margins and
inflated demands forecasts used
by Detroit Edison Co. to justify
the Greenwood project. This con-
, struction, if approved, would
ultimately be financed by
Edison's ratepayers. With a fixed
profit rate of 10-12 per cent on
construction, Edison could ex-
pect approximately $100 million
in guaranteed profit on this
program, while passing the risks
(and thus the costs) of over-
building to its ratepayers. This
case, begun in 1978, should be
decided sometime this year.
The second case to consider is
Consumers Power Rate No. U-
5979. In this matter, PIRGIM has
criticized the content of
promotional films used by the
Consumers Power Company.
"Energy Today and Tomorrow'

ding the programs.
"SOLAR ENERGY and You"
is another movie used by Con-
sumers Power. It contains
misleading and erroneous infor-
mation on the feasibility and
practicality of solar energy.
Another PIRGIM witness, Ed
Kelley of Sunstructures in Ann
Arbor, feels that the film inac-
curately treats solar energy as
feasible only in the "misty-
distant" future. The film goes on
to advocate the use of nuclear
and coal energy.
PIRGIM has argued that both
programs should be revised, or
replaced by more accurate films.
In* addition, such "energy
promotion" should be charged to
Consumers' stockholders, rather
than its ratepayers. This case,
too, is still pending before the
MPSC.
The efforts of PIRGIM'S UIP
are not blind to the great service
and convenience offered by
Michigan's utilities. But effective
utility intervention addresses a
structure of decision-making and
representation that leaves in-
dividual ratepayers with little or
no impact. The complexity of
these issues requires legal and
technical knowledge unavailable
to most people. PIRGIM's ad-
vocacy before the Michigan
Public Service Commission has
the resources and know-how to be
effective in this setting, and to
see that utilities' interests are not
the only consideration in
decision-making.
Many have claimed that public
interest advocacy has no
meaning, or that it represents the
view of only a minority. But to
protect the rate-paying consumer
from overbuilding, unfair rate
structures and misleading
promotional films is not

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