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March 17, 1981 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1981-03-17

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Page 4
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Tuesday, March 17, 1981

The Michigan Daily

Of squirrels and the plague

Vol. XCI, No. 134

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

A few weeks ago, there was an odd little
story buried deep within the pages of The New
York Times about a man in New York who
had contracted bubonic plague.
Apparently the man and his wife were
vacationing in Mexico one day when the
plucky chap spotted a dead squirrel.

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

A positively negative idea

T HE PUBLIC Interest Research
Group in Michigan, in a desperate
attempt to better its financial position,
has-proposed a clever, though dubious
new funding plan. If the plan is adopted
by the Regents later this week, studen-
ts would be automatically assessed a
$2 fee for PIRGIM at registration. If a
student does not wish to contribute to
the organization, he or she would then
have to mail in a request for a guaran-
teed refund.
This funding plan, called a negative
check-off system, differs from the one
currently employed by PIRGIM,
through which supporters of PIRGIM
may ask to be assessed the fee by
checking a box on their registration
This negative check-off proposal
would give PIRGIM a ridiculously un-
fair financial edge over other student
groups. PIRGIM officials wisely
realize that such a negative check-off
system would bring in great revenues.
from supporters and non-supporters
There is no reason why the burden
should fall on the PIRGIM non-
supporter to actively oppose the
organization by mailing in for a
refund. Rather, as with all other
The air's kil
HE NORTHEAST, like many parts
Q± of-the United States, is experien-
cing the beginnings of a severe water
shortage. Improper irrigation,
drought, and an historic disregard for
water conservation have all con-
tributed to this problem. The man-
made problem of pollution, however, is
one of the biggest enemies of the nor-
theast water supply.
For years, factories in Pennsylvania
and'New York have emitted pollutants
that were considered potentially
dangerous for wildlife and the en-
vironment in the northeast. Ironically,
it is this pollution in the air, rather than
water pollution, that is so detrimental
to the water supply.
As rain filters through the sulfurous
air of the northeast, it can reach the
ground with an acidity like that of
vinegar. This much needed rain water
is often destroyed before it has an op-
portunity to reach the reservoirs.
This "acid rain" has proved a fur-
ther threat to safe drinking water by
contaminating lakes on which it falls.

student organizations that rely on
voluntary contributions, it should be
the responsibility of the supporter to
actively contribute.
PIRGIM has already been granted
special privileges by the University. It
is the only student group that can
solicit funds at registration; the
University further cooperates by in-
cluding the fee on the tuition bills of
those students who volunteered to con-
tribute. There is no justification for
further special treatment.
The University's executive officers
have recognized the iniquity of the
PIRGIM proposal and have suggested
that the Regents maintain the group's
ptesent funding system. Relentless
PIRGIM activists, however, will un-
doubtedly still show up during the
Regents' public comments time to
plead their case.
If PIRGIM cannot generate enough
student financial support on its own
merits, it should re-examine its role as
a representative of students. In the
meantime, the Regents should dismiss
the negative check-off proposal as un-
fairly tipping scales in the favor of a
particular student organization which
promotes a particular political
ideology, however worthwhile.
ling the water
As many as 200 lakes in the Adirondack
Mountains are dead-due to this rain.
Given the severe hazard this polluted
air poses to the northeast's water sup-
,ply, it is obvious some restrictions
should be placed on those factories
emitting the pollutants. The Reagan
'administration, however, has done
nothing to regulate these factories,
and, in fact, has proposed loosening
clean air regulations.
Certainly, acid rain and air pollution
are not the only reason for the nor-
theast's water shortage. But they are
man-made problems and can be effec-
tively controlled. One way to cut back
the sulfur in the; air, Jis by using
limestone and limestone water in fac-
tory smokestacks. This produces gyp-
sym, a harmless substance. Whatever
the method, something must be done to
help maintain the water supply.
It was bad enough when industrial
pollutants threatened wildlife habitats
in the northeast. But it is intolerable
when these emittants destroy that
region's rapidly diminishing water

By Howard Witt

possessions to be ransacked. Once here, they
found themselves classed as illegal aliens.
Immigration officials frightened many of the
refugees into returning to El Salvador (and
almost certain death). The officers purposely
neglected to inform them that they could
remain in the United States for deportation
OF COURSE, THE United States had no
choice but to deport the illegal aliens. To have
granted them political asylum and allowed
them to remain would have been to admit that
something is wrong in El Salvador, that
Death Squads affiliated with the military-
dominated junta really do exist, that maybe
the United States is supporting the wrong
So what does the man with bubonic plague
have to do with the U.S. involvement in El
Salvador? Nothing, really - unless you have
a feeling for metaphor.
A man tosses a dead squirrel. The United
States - or, more specifically, Ronald
Reagan - tosses El Salvadoran refugees
(who are essentially dead squirrels the
moment they return to their ravaged coun-
THERE WAS ANOTHER story that ap-
peared a few days later. This one explained
that the Reagan administration wants
to cut most of the funding for Amtrak,
eliminating service for the entire country
save the eastern seaboard. And this at a time
when the national rail company is improving

its service and filling its trains.
The story also detailed drastic changes in
federal student loan programs. For one,
Reagan wants students to begin pzying 9 per-
cent interest from the first day of their loans
-no more of this silly practice that the
government picks up the interest costs until a
student can finish college and get a job.
OF COURSE, RONALD Reagan had no
choice but to cut funding for Amtrak and
college students (not to mention the poor and
the elderly). To have continued supporting
them would have been to admit that federal
dollars can be usefully spent on people, that
transportation and human resources are
valuable, that devoting billions to defense is
The man with bubonic plague was still clear
in my memory. He tossed a dead squirrel.
Ronald Reagan tosses thousands of Amtrak
passengers and millions of college students
(all of whom are as good as dead squirrels
when Congress approves the budget cuts).
Maybe I'm stretching the comparisons too
far. Maybe I'm reaching too much in an at-
tempt to connect unrelated stories into a sen-
sible whole.
And maybe Ronald Reagan won't get the
Howard Witt is a Daily staff writer.
His column appears every Tuesday.

Playfully, he seized it and tossed the body at
his wife. The mirthful toss landed him in the
hospital with a dose of Black Death and
probably drove his wife to divorce court.
ABOUT THE SAME time this story ap-
peared,,the news broke that the U.S. Im-
migration Service had been sending back to
El Salvador thousands of terrified refugees
who sought asylum in the UnitedrStates. The
Salvadorans, many of whom were teachers,
doctors, and lawyers, were fleeing from the
right-wing Death Squads that scour the coun-
try for anyone sympathetic to the leftists or
They spent vast sums to be smuggled into
the United States, leaving their homes and


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To the Daily:
Once again, the view of football
above all else was discussed in
the Daily, in a column by Stan
Bradbury (March 11). Screw the
Geography Department, close
CCRB, but don't touch the foot-
ball team was his theme.
Come off it, Stan. You say the
University can't survive without
the team, cut could the team sur-
vive without the University? How
many of the hordes of alumni who
come back to Ann Arbor on
Saturday afternoons, come back
not only to watch football, but to
eat at their favorite restaurant,
drive by their old dorm, recall
their days at the University?
In short, the money that is
pulled in on Saturdays is not due
solely to the football team, but
what the University and Ann Ar-
bor represent academically,
socially and emotionally. The
money is drawn by the entire
University and belongs to the en-
tire University.
You say we need to win at all
costs. At the cost of losing

academic departments (the only
physical activity for the rest of us
will be watching football)?
What of the players them-
selves? Is it-your attitude that
leads to forged exams and
plagiarized papers (who would
flunk a football player?) Did you
forget they are also supposed to
be students?
Your shot against women's
sports was particularly ironic.
Have you ever noticed how little
media coverage is given to
women? Of course, attendance is
low. Try going to a place where
women's sports are taken
seriously by the media. The Iowa
State High School Basketball
Championship, for example, con-
sistently matches or outdraws
the boy's tournaments. The
games are exciting, the media
follows the games and the
players are considered top-notch
athletes in their own right.
So go suck on your six-pack,
bow to the gods of the pigskin,
and hold on to your male
stereotypes. Perhaps you forgot

that Northwestern, even the
University of Chicago, gets
alumni support in fantastic sums.
For a trivia question, I'll let
Reagan and
To the Editor:
America'srlargest drug bust
(Daily, March 12) could not have
occurred at a more politically
opportune time. On March 6,
President Reagan, in response to
a question about his future policy
priorities on drug abuse, stated,
"I've had people talk to me about
increased efforts to head off the
export into the United States of
drugs from neighboring nations.
With borders like ours, that as the
main method of halting the drug
problem in America is virtually
impossible ... It is my belief -
firm belief - that the answers to
the drug problem comes through
winning over the users to the point
that we take the customers away
from the drugs, not take the
drugs necessarily - try that of
course, you don't let up on that.
But it's far more effective if you
take the customers away than if
you try to take the drugs away."~
Should President Reagan's
statement be inalterably tran-
sformed into U.S(. policy, the
Drug Enforcement Ad-
ministration, which likes to refer
to itself as "the lead agency" in
U.S. narcotics control, could find
itself confronted with various
proposals for budget and person-
nel reductions.
But now the DEA can breath a



used to drive home the point that
law enforcement measures
produce recognizable results -
if, of course, an agency is given
the necessary financial support.
The question, though, persists:
what direction should U.S. policy
take toward c9mbatting drug
abuse and how should the funds
be distributed? In one fell swoop
the Drug Enforcement Ad-
ministration has made its
position clear: enforcement ef-
forts are effective and should not
be curtailed.
Hopefully, the Reagan, Ad-
ministration will have, unlike the
previous Carter Administration,
an active, policy-directing, and
committed staff in the White
House Office of Drug Abuse
Policy. And hopefully this office
will press for a balanced
domestic policy based on un-
biased educational programs, in
the elementary and seconddry
schools, intelligence and enfpr-
cement efforts directed at major
distributors and organized crme
figures, and support for
rehabilitation programs.
The White House Office should
also be aware of the international
scope of the drug abuse problem
and thereby support, throughihe
State Department's Bureau of In-
tsnaina Nani,, attrf,in

you tell me how the University of
Chicago was ranked in football
last year.
-Steve Hirtle
March 11

City gov't important

To the Daily:
On Feb. 16, primary election
day, Ann Arbor witnessed one of
the worst voter turn-outs in
recent history. In the First and
Second Wards, composed
primarily of students, voting per-
centages were extremely low.
Out of 16,500 registered voters in
the First Ward, only 507 showed

rare person who can say he or she
is not concerned over the lack of
decent housing at reasonable
rates, the deficiency in parking
areas, and the growing fear to do
something as simple as walk
home from the library.
It is easy to stand around the
Diag or Dooley's complaining
about these issues. It is just as

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