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March 20, 1980 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1980-03-20

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Page 4-Thursday, March 20, 1980-The Michigan Daily

NineY Yers o f' EdiforiaI Freedomi

World nuke problems extend
past corporate profit greed

'1

Vol. XC; No. 133

News Phone: 764-0552

Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan
Iran' iflation, frustration

T SEEMS we have reached the
point at which nothing more can be
said about the hostage situation in
Iran. With the recent failure of the
United Nations Commission, the U.S.
has explored every viable solution to
the problem. It looks hopeless.
About the only observations that do
occur to us-and they are admittedly
only idle observations, for we have no
answers-involve some comparisons
between' the Iranian parliamentary
elections and the American presidntial
campaign.
Not only are we the hostages of
hostile student radicals in our own em-
bassy in Iran, we are the hostages of
raging inflation here at home. Each
situation has been called a "crisis,"
yet each has been dragging on so long
that that word, with its connotations of
urgency and immediacy, now seems
terribly inadequate.

" We are now electing a president,
and the Iranians are now electing a
parliament. The Parliament will
almost certainly be subject to the
whims of Ayatollah Khomeini. Many
Americans maintain the president is
subject to thewhims of Congress.
" We must wait for a new president to
solve the inflation problem, because
our current leader has seemed in-
capable of doing so. We must also wait
for the Iranian Parliament to convene
to solve the hostage problem. In both
cases, our waiting could be in vain.
Americans today have more reason
to be frustrated about inflation and the
Iranian situation than ever before. And
there appears to be no way to vent that
frustration. Perhaps we are heading
for a release of both kinds of tension
that will change the face of the nation
and the world.

Contradictions about Agent
Orange spur controversy

If all goes according to plan, the first Soviet
nuclear power plant in the western
hemisphere will begin operation in Cien-
fuegos, Cuba, in 1984. Perhaps the most
significant aspect of this "socialist" nuclear
plant in America's backyard will be that it
underscores a disturbing contradiction in the
anti-corporate ideology of a growing segment
of the U.S. anti-nuclear movement.
That ideology, reflecting the political direc-
tions of some anti-nuclear leaders, blames big
business and the corporate-dominated gover-
nment for the development of nuclear power
and all its attendant safety hazards.
WHILE CRITICISMS of the corporate
nature of nuclear power in America may be
well-grounded. the heavy emphasis on the
profit motive by many activists obscures
more important forces driving the worldwide
spread of nuclear power.
Activists like Jane Fonda typify this em-
phasis: "If we continue to place our health
and safety in the hands of utility executives
whose main goal in life is to maximize
profits," she has declared, "we will see more
Harrisburgs, we will see more leaks and we
will see an increase in the cancer epidemic
that is already running rampant in this coun-
try."
Likewise, a publication of the anti-nuclear
Abalone Alliance in California declared
recently that "Our country's energy choices
are perverted in a basic and growing way by
the dominance of military and corporate
priorities in the Department of Energy."
HOLLYWOOD, TOO, has grafted the anti-
corporate argument to the anti-nuclear
debate. Movies such as "The China Syn-
drome" and the recent TV drama "The
Plutonium Incident" unfailingly present the
safety hazards of nuclear power as a direct
consequence of the "profit motive" that
drives corporate executives to cut corners
and take dangerous risks.
In the morality play of our time, nuclear
developers and utilities such as Babcock and
Wilcox, Kerr-McGee, and Pacific Gas and
Electric have taken over the devil's role from
such Vietnam War-era spectres as Dow
Chemical and Lockheed.
However, if profit-hungry executives are
the principle nemeses behind nuclear power,
how should we view the proposed Soviet plant
in Cuba? Or for that matter, how should we
view the 21 nuclear reactors now operating in
the Soviet Union, and the giant Leningrad
nuclear plant which will soon become the
world's largest? -
IF CAPITALISM and the profit motive are
what make nuclear power dangerous, are we
to accept that nuclear power in socialisthan-
ds is safe? Perhaps that is not the conclusion
that Jane Fonda and other anti-nuclear ac-
tivists would have us reach, but it certainly
tends to sound like it.
Ironically, it is exactly the conclusion of the
nuclear enthusiasts in the socialist world.
Within days after the near disaster at Three
Mile Island, Pravda assured Soviet readers
that nuclear power itself was safe and it
denounced the power monopolies at
Harrisburg for not taking the required safety
measures. As one Soviet writer put it, the
lesson of Three Mile Island is that safety is in-
seperable from socialist control of nuclear
power. A Cuban writer in the magazine
Prisma blasted the American press for
focusing, on problems of plant design and
asserted that the utilities, "guided by the first
law of the capitalist system of obtaining the
greatest profit, had no scruples preventing

By Alan Ramo
the placing of plastic or cheap steel in place of
the intended copper conduit which was dic-
tated by the designs and security norms."
Those cheap pipes, he claimed, eventually led
to the radiation leak and near meltdown.
Such a scenario may be worthy of
Hollywood script writers, but it does not
square with the findings of the Kemeny
Commission, which blamed the accident on
human design errors-the kinds of errors
which are inevitable in any kind of society.
APART FROM the errors of fact, the
trouble with this analysis, as it concerns the
anti-nuclear movement, is that it suggests
(wittingly or not) that the problem of nuclear

I

purchased its reactor from Canada instead of
from the Soviet Union.
ANOTHER DRIVING force behind the
spread of nuclear power, which is obscured
by the anti-corporate argument, is the'-
legitimate aspirations of Third World nations
to develop energy alternatives to'petroleum.M
The American conservation approach may be
appropriate for the United States, which puts:-
more energy into air-conditioning than China .
puts into its entire industrial production, but--
it fails to speak to the desperate needs for in-
creased energy production in most of the Third,
World. Again, talk of alternatives, such as
biomass conversion and solar power, is fine in,
the United States, which through conser-
vation can "buy" the time to develop them,
but nations like the Philippines and Cuba need

" FEW sun-bleached stumps are the
only hint of what only a decade
ago was a thick forest of trees reaching
over 70 feet into the air."
That is how Bill Kurtis, a Chicago
television journalist, describes a part
of the Vietnamese countryside he
visited recently. The destruction was
not caused by National Liberation
Front guerrillas thrashing out Thieu's
troops. Nor was it caused by the flame-
throwers American foot soldiers
carried into battle.
The widespread defoliation of for-
merly fertile Vietnamese land was,
achieved by the use of a merciless
agent of destruction-Agent
Orange-developed by armed services
scientists as America's contribution to
the criminal legacy of chemical war-
fare.,
Agent Orange was used by the
government for ten years ending in
1972. But the problems it engendered
may be just beginning.
Some of the herbicides contained in
the chemical, it seems, have serious
and abiding effects both on the health
of people exposed to the substance and
on the health of those people's
children.u
The carcinogenic and gene-altering
properties of Agent Orange have been
exposed in a memorandum that seems
to have originated in the Veterans Ad-
mnistration (VA). The memorandum's
citation of the negative effects of the
chemical contradict VA and Depar-
tment of Defense testimony that no
negative effects have been proven.
Some Americans expressed hope
with the passing of the Nixon Ad-
ministration that the government
would drop the veil; that the secrecy
and defensiveness about executive-

level operations would be replaced by
openness to the public, except in
special cases that genuinely called for
security.
But in the Agent Orange case, the
government has looked very much like
that of the dark Nixon years. The VA
and Defense Department statements
up to now that there is no evidence to
back up the claims against the
defoliant are not surprising. Those
agencies have not been looking very
hard for evidence; if they should turn
up scientific findings in support of the
claims, they will be liable for millions
of dollars of disability benefits.
So the federal government marches
on in its time-honored patterns of
belligerence and, perhaps, deceit. A
Captain Alvin Young of the Air Force,
an expert in plant herbicides, recently
testified before Congress that there
was no evidence that Agent Orange
caused significant health problems to
humans.
It was that same Captain Young
whose name appears At the top of the
controversial VA memorandum.
The hopes for openness and honesty
in government were just pipe dreams,
it seems. The days of darkness and
contradiction are still upon us.

s~
Daily Photo'=
MANY ANTI-NUCLEAR activists have tended to blame greed and corporate motives for
safety. hazards of nuclear power. However, some believe such an analysis obscures much"
larger dynamics underlying the worldwide spread of nuclear power.

power is limited to a few greedy corporations
and individuals. In doing so, it obscures the
much larger dynamics behind the worldwide
spread of nuclear power-dynamics which
account for the fact that both socialist and
capitalist nations are exporting nuclear
power to the Third World, and that a recent
conference of 66 non-communist nations
whole-heartedly supported the rapid
development of fast-breeder reactors around
the world.
Behind this global adoption of nuclear
power are some key forces that are far more
complex than corporate profit motiveq. First,
modern, industrial, highly-centralized
nations tend to develop those technologies
which ft it into the fabric of centralized con-
trol. Because of the cost and technological
sophistication of this control, it requires cen-
tral planning and a technological elite. It
strengthens the power of central government.
Furthermore, the highly technical nature of
nuclear power also encourages an increased
dependence of the Third World on the
developed nations which can supply the
technical training, fuel processing, and con-
struction of plants. This gain contributes to
the power of the central elite, a fact which
may explain why Rumania, a Soviet bloc
country with an independent foreign policy,

more energy right now. They view nuclear
power as. a viable solution, whether,
Americans do or not.
This presents a further irony-andt
problem-for the anti-nuclear movement.
For as the rest of the world-and particularly
the communist world-rushed headlong
toward nuclear development, the pro-nuclear
forces will inevitably rally Americans behind
a fear of "falling behind," especially behind
the Soviets. The anti-corporate nuclear
movement may well find that its most serious
obstacle to a nuclear-free America is the con-
tinued development of non-corporate nuclear
plants in Russia'
What this suggests to many anti-nuclear ac-
tivists is that the ideology behind the
movement must be international, and neither
capitalist, Marxist, nor Christian
Democratic., As Todd Gitlin, -a Berkeley,
California activist, told an anti-nuclear con-
ference in Oakland in January: "The world is
a limited arena. We can no longer ignore the
international implications of the anti-nuclear
power issue."
Alan Ramo is an Oakland, California at-I
torney and anti-nuclear activist. He wrote
this article for the Pacific News Service.

......................................
....:.:.:.;.:.:..........'.-.'....'....,

Editorial policies
Cartoons frequently appear
on both the left and right sides

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
Campus not even a nice place to visit

I i -' ...

of the page;
'necessarily re
opinions.

they do not
present Daily

To the Editor:
The woman sitting next to me
was staring. No, make that
GLARING.
Apparently, I was not
squeezing into'my half of the bus
seat tight enough. Apparently,
she figured I should be able to un-
screw my knees and carry them

.......
.................r....,.._, ................,. , ............................. .................................. .

with me anytime I'm riding the
bus from North Campus to Cen-
tral Campus.
So I scru-u-u-u-u-u-u-nched up.
Real tight. Ugh. And for the rest
of the ten-minute ride. . . no,
make that ORDEAL. . . the
female student remained quiet
and expressionless. Like
everyone else on the crowded
bus.
Even though it happened on the
first day of my visit here, I knew
I was in trouble again. For this
boy from Southern Illinois, it was
to be the start of another week at
the place some folks call the
home of the Maize and Blue.
But not me.
As far as I'm concerned, and
judging strictly from my monthly
visits since September, the
University of Michigan is strictly
the. home of the unfriendly,
faceless zombie.
Somewhere in the admissions
catalogue, I'm sure it reads
Taxes are
To the Daily:
In his article entitled "Local
Farms Gone by 2012?" (Daily,
March 14), Mr. Fieber mentioned
several reasons why farmland is
taken out of production. Another
~recn i C that farmers are ino l

"Bring us your frowners, bring
us your people who are afraid to
be nice . .:" Something like the
Statue of Liberty.
Except that it appears that
there is no such thing as liberty at
this school. Everyone seems
trapped in their own little worlds,
with little room for anyone else
who, heaven forbid, might try
and be their friends.
Yes, Michigan students, you
know who you are.
You are the lady who works as
a cashier in the basement of the
Michigan League, the one who
frowns at all students and all of
the lunch food that they are pur-
chasing. I ate down there once
this week, but you and your
terrifying frowns made me lose
any semblance of an appetite.
You are the woman I passed in
the street last night, the one I
walked by when there was no one
around. "Howareya doin?" I
tried to say cheerfully. You

looked up at me, but said nothing.
Not even a smile. From now on
Miss, don't even look up.
And finally, you are every
student who walks across the
Diag during mid-afternoon. I was
full of smiles, and I was trying
my darndest to treat you all like
people. But during my ex-
periment on Monday and
Tuesday, not one of you even
returned my grins. NOT ONE.
sure, I don't know you. And
sure, I'll never see you again. B
what the hell is wrong with a little
friendliness? How hard is it to
just smile and say "Hello" right
back?Who knows? You may like it
But until then, you are a school
of zombies. Apparently, while you
are getting an education here,
you certainly aren't learning
anything.
-Bill Plaschke, student,
Southern Illinois
University
March 19

a farming problem, too

some of their land because of the
high taxes. This is especially true
with older farmers whose income
is limited. With land prices, in-
terest rates, and farm equipment
prices so high, young farmers

ty is being taken out of production
at an alarming rate. Grocery
stores do not buy produce from
local farmers as they did years
ago, but if truckers are forced to
curtail some of their shipments
beaue f the energy situation,

1 ( \\ t
Rm
fr WOMMi MMMM

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