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March 06, 1981 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1981-03-06

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OPINION

Page 4

Friday, March 6, 1981

The Michigan Daily

e bt anichigant
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Reagan: Let them eat cake

I%..i

Vol. XCI, No. 125

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board
Proposed cut of CEQ:
Let nature enfor itself
rTHE REAGAN Administration is federal agencies, to ensure the safety
considering eliminating the Coun- of projects affecting the environment.
cil on Environmental Quality - a cut The council also gathers information
that would only serve to isolate the on the quality of the nation's environ-
president from environmental con- ment and produces a report not
cerns. duplicated by any government office.
Since his election, several of The CEQ administers the National
Reagan's actions have indicated this Environmental Policy Act, which
blatant lack of concern for environ- established environmental protection
mental issues. His appointment of as a national priority. The Reagan
James Watt, a long-time enemy of administration has maintained that
western conservation groups, as the CEQ's duties could be diffused into
Secretary of the Interior was a prime the EPA and Interior Department, but
example of his advocacy for develop- in the past neither department has
ment over environmental protection. demonstrated competence in super-
For years, as president of the Moun- vising the NEPA.
tain States' Legal Foundation, Watt A further problem with this
has been known for his opposition to arrangement is that the two bodies are
conversationists' efforts. Sadly, in his regulated by the NEPA, which could
short term with the Interior Depar- cause difficulty in administering it.
tment, Watt has lived up to his former The most important duty of the CEQ,
reputation. The new Secretary of the however, is advising the president. The
Interior has tagged more than one CEQ develops and recommends
million acres of sensitive California policies that will promote the im-
coastal waters for an oil and gas ex- provement of the environment. It ser-
ploration lease in May. ves as a watchdog for possible en-
To further his imbalanced, anti-en- vironmental infringement. Thus far,
vironmental interests, Reagan has ap- Reagan's appointees seem unin-
pointed Ann Gorsuch as head of the terested in undertaking this important
Environmental Protection Agency. In task.
her home state of California, Gorsuch By cutting the council, Reagan will
has a history as a fierce opponent of turn a deaf ear to the nation's en-
anti-pollution legislation. vironmental concerns. In order to
Cutting the CEQ would further stack maintain a balanced approach to the
the deck in favor of anti-environmen- nation's environmental issues, the
talist efforts. Since it was conceived in Reagan Administration must not put
1969, the council has worked within an end to the CEQ.
Drink up, Gov. Carey

Nearly 200 years ago, American patriot and
constitutional framer John Jay declared,
"The people who own the country ought to
govern it." Two centruies removed, the
Reagan Administration is rushing to clasp
our forefather's adage with patrician zeal.
The day of upper class liberation has finally
arrived: Heretofore cast as the necessary evil
which keeps the financial wheels of society
turning, our super-rich suddenly find them-
selves acclaimed as the nation's most selfless
paragons of benevolence.

Coming
Apart
By Christopher Potter

courage paving theway for the rest of us to
live better, happier lives.
How about that? Big business's legacy of
sweatshops, monopolies, price-fixing and
union-busting was all conducted on behalf of
the people. The bosses weren't doing it to us,
they were doing it for us. How could we be so
blind? Perhaps we forget one must be cruel to
be kind.
SMALL WONDER Reagan's economists
have launched an unabashed "reverse-Rob-
in Hood" game plan. After all, as one official
recently put it, "America wouldn't be wealthy if
it didn't have any wealthy people". So much
the better if the proposed myriat of tax
breaks, deregulations, and welfare cuts give
to them that's got and takes from them that
ain't.
Such is the ethical foundation for a new
American plutocracy, based on rapturous
trust in the wisdom of the rich: Just turn
those corporations loose, and we'll all get to
Paradise sure as night follows day. Stockman
& Co. cling to the Gilder dialectic as
feverishly as the most devoted communist
clings to Marx: Ye must have faith - Exxon
will save you in the end.
SUCH ATTITUDES are not original in
American political history. What is original -
In the past half-century at least - is the class-

NO LONGER MUST they feel egalitarian
guilt over the three Astin-Martins in the
driveway, the Leer jet out at the airport, the
winter bungalow in Pago-Pago. Economic
omnipotence has becomfe its own virtue, its
practitioners the last, unsordid hope of our
nation.
This rebellion of the rich has lately found its
guiding intellectual conscience in a new
book, Wealth and Poverty, penned by
economist and self-styled social philosopher
George Gilder. The work has been labeled
"promethean" by Reagan Budget Director
David Stockman, who suggests that Gilder's
book will provide the dominant philosophical
underpinnings for the Administration's
economic grand design. Clearly, the Gospel
has been found and Gilder is its prophet.
Predictably, the author argues for a com-
merce untramelled by government inter-
ference. But his thesis turns novel when he
challenges a key ingredient in the classic
assumption - generally held by conser-
vatives as well as liberals - that capitalism,
though inherently selfish, still channels its
wares to the general .populace more efficien-
tly than does any other economic system.
UNFAIR, SAYS GILDER. Far from
skulking in selfishness, capitalism is actually
the quintessence of altruism: The American
entrepeneur sets sail into murky, ambigious
waters, bravely casting forth his money and
resources without the slightest guarantee of
return of reward. He is a "giver" in the most
self-sacrificing sense, his creativity and

consciousness belicosity the current ad-
ministration drapes around its policies of
dismantlement and privilege. Its pronoun-
cements barely even attempt to disguise the
haughty, let-them-eat-cake disdain which
cuts through the surface sactimony likea
gentleman's rapier.
Are we thus doomed to an immediate future
of government-by-aristocracy? We remainin
theory a nation of the people - yet the people
have habitually exercised an inordinate
tolerance for the machinations of the rich.
Wherever and whenever organized labor bas
asserted itself, the bulk of public opinion has
always come down on the side of the bosses,
the cops, and the goon squads.
Some strange inversion of perspective has
ceaselessly tainted the unionist and reformer
as perverse, sinister, somehow anti-
American - while the company moguls
would emerge legitimate as apple pie. They
might be imperious wheeler-dealers, but at
least they were our wheeler-dealer's,
swinging the economic clout to make
America feared and envied the world over.
AMERICANS HAVE always been
mesmerized by the concept of power, seduced
by the assumption that bigness means good-
ness, that might makes right. "Our country,@
right or wrong" usually extends to our cor-
porations as well, who all too often become
surrogate stand-ins for the nation itself; to in-
veigh against their multifold excesses
ultimately seems shameful, almost un-
patriotic.
Big remains big, regardless of political per-
spective. However free-flung its aspirations,
Gilder's philosophy is every bit as pater-
nalistic as the big-government menace
Reagan so piously denounces.
UNRESTRICTED CAPITALISM would
likely prove as oppressive as the most en-
tangled Soviet state bureaucracy; nothing in
our economic history indicates laissez-faire
would flow with the divine, utopian
inevitability Gilder and his disciples preach.
As with most things, logic lies ,in
moderation - in this case, the interlocking
system of government-commerce checks and
balances that has served us remarkably well
to this point in time. But if the Reagan clan
truly wishes to transmute our direction from
rationality to ideology, then America's future
is anybody's guess. Gas up the Astin-Martin?
Hell, pass the firewood.
Christopher Potter is a Daily staff mem-
ber. His column appears every Friday.

PRESIDENT REAGAN reviews notes on
board Air Force One.

Chilean resisters continue
struggle against repression

.0

N EW YORK Gov. Hugh Carey
seems to be a little confused.
When workers complained that toxic
chemicals, including PCB's, per-
meating their state office building
might pose a threat to their health,
Gov. Carey scoffed, "I offer here and
now to wvalk into Binghampton (where
the building is located) or-any part of
that building and swallow an entire
glass of PCB's ... You've got to take
PCB's in quantities, deadly, over a
long period of time and probably be
pregnant-which I don't intend to
become-and then you get PCB con-

tamination.
"If I had a couple of willing hands
and a few vacuum cleaners, I'd clean
that building myself," he continued.
Gov. Carey apparently does not view
the soot laced with PCB's and other
highly toxic chemicals that spread
throughout the building after a fire last
month as a threat. Maybe that's
because he works in a different
building a long way away. Maybe
it's because he finds the workers' con-
cerns and complaints bothersome. If
that's the case, let's take Gov. Carey
up on his offer. Drink up.

I,
I.
J
I-1

SANTIAGO, CHILE - From a
distance the 140-year-old San-
tiago Penitentiary has the rustic
charm of an old Spanish mission.
The white adobe-like structure
gleams in the sun while palm
trees sway on either side of the
wide entrance.
Up close, however, in the cold
glare of reality reflected from the
heavy iron bars and menacing
machine guns, the illusion begins
to fade. From the inside, where
the fetid air smelling of human
waste hangs in the cold, dark
cells, the penitentiary has all the
charm of a tomb, which it is: a
tomb for the living.
THANKS TO THE efforts of in-
ternational organizations such as
Amnesty International and the
Red Cross, as well as the political
prisoners' own militant actions,
it's now possible for friends and
relatives to visit here, although it
is illegal for journalists to enter
the prison without written
authorization from the ministry
of justice. That, I was told, was
all but impossible to obtain.
So I approached one of the
people waiting in line to give in-
formation to the guard outside,
maintained a conversation, and
stayed at the person's side as we
went through the prison gates.
Since it's common for one family
member to sign in the entire
family, the guards never
challenged me. I visited the
penitentiary 10 times and this
method has always worked.
One of the people I met inside
was Eugenio Bisama Castillo,
who has been entombed here sin-
ce he was 19. He's now 23. He
shares an eight-by-six-foot,
unheated cell with two other men.
Eugenio, a highly intelligent,
gentle-mannered man, is a mem-
herof th in n aP cicta

wires were attached to his
genitals and to his tongue; and
finally he was placed on an elec-
trically-wired metal cot, with his
hands and feet tied to the metal
and wet cloths to increase the
shock.
He said he has no hatred for his
torturers or for others who sup-
port the dictatorship because,
"Our enemy is the system, not
individual people."
As for that system, it remains
today nearly as repressive as it
was in the dark months following
the assassination of Salvador
Allende in 1973, despite
widespreadibelief elsewhere that
things have changed.
SEVEN YEARS have passed
since the bloody U.S.-sponsored
and Chilean military right-wing
coup that ended the
democratically-elected socialist
government, killed hundreds of
thousands of Chilenos; sent into
exile 1,000,000 more and
systematically sought out, tor-
tured, or imprisoned thousands
more Chilenos who were believed
to be "enemies of the state."
But perhaps you've heard
all this before. And perhaps
you've read the articles like this
recent and typical one printed in
American newspapers late in
1980: "In seven years, Chile has
moved from being a bankrupt,
chaotic basketcase to being one
of the most robust and vibrant
systems in the world. A true suc-
cess story."
But according to a Human
Rights Commission report to the
United Nations this year, there
were more than 1,200 violations of
human rights in Chile during the
first half of 1980.

By Lawrence Johnson

as a result of the controversy
surrounding the Chilean secret
police involvement in the bom-
bing assassinations of Orlando
Letelier and Ronni Moffitt in
Washington, D.C. in 1976, private
banks and corporations have
proven more than willing to fill
the gap.
Their key interest is still cop-
per. The U.S. companies- that
were nationalized under Allende
have begun to move back in - not
to take over the same mines -
but to explpoit vast new copper
deposits. Billion dollar invest-
ments have come from Anaconda
and Exxon in the last two years.
By the end of the 1980s, foreign
investment, mainly from the
United States, is expected to ex-
ceed $5-billion.
A NEW LABOR code has been
implemented, designed essen-
tially to institutionalize low
wages and very weak unions. No
third parties can be involved in a
strike, which eliminates secon-
dary boycotts or solidarity
strikes by other unions. There are
no industry-wide unions allowed.
Lockouts, on the other hand, are
legal.
Yet, despite the dictatorship's
massive economic and military
repression, the Chilean people
have managed to build a popular
and multi-faceted legal, semi-
legal, and clandestine resistance
movement, involving most
unions, church and social clubs,
even sports organizations. Also
active in the resistance are
groups of unemployed workers,
family members of political
prisoners, and those killed or
exiled.
These groups usually operate

on a local or neighborhood level
although many, like the family
groups, have national networks
as well. Their members come
from all levels of society ald
from all types of employmentbut
there is strong unity on the need
to overthrow the dictatorship.
How to achieve its overthrow and
the type of government to replace
it are currently subjects of hot
debate. The Communists and
Socialists agree with-the
Movement for a Revolutionary
Left (MIR) that armed struggle
is the most effective method.
Unlike the others, the MIR sees
the time for this struggle as now.
This year the MIR has stepped
up its overt actions against, the
dictatorship. There have been
numerous battles with security
forces, bombings and corporate
offices, and hundreds of "ex-
propriations" from banks. Food
delivery trucks have been seized
and their contents distributed
among the poor, and in July th4
director of the military school of
intelligence was assassinated.
Members operate primarily as
urban guerrillas although they
claimi strength in the countryside
as well. Unless weapons are
needed for a specific action, they
travel unarmed, and like most
people from other sectors of the
resistance, they spend their lives
looking over their shoulders.
For all government opponents
it is a difficult, dangerous life.
But it is becoming increasingly
clear that even for those outside
the political process, life in Chile
today is difficult and dangerous.

Lawrence Johnson, who
wrote this article for the Pacific
News Service, has just returned
from a year in Chile.

am

r.

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