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March 02, 1982 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1982-03-02

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OPINION
Page 4 Tuesday, March 2, 1982. The Michigan Daily

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Let's ignore the neo-Nazis

Vol. XCII, No. 117

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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

Saving the auto industry

TNIONWORKERS at the Ford Motor
U Company overwhelmingly approved
a new labor contract Sunday that will
trade worker's wage and fringe benefit
concessions for management assuran-
ces of job security. The unexpected
size of the approval - 43,000 votes for
the new contract, compared to 15,900
against - now almost'undoubtedly will
signal to other industry unions, such as
those at General Motors, that such
negotiations may be successful.
Though both labor and management
seem happy with the new agreement,
perhaps there are better ways to solve
the ailing auto industry's problems.
The Ford/United Auto Workers
agreement is decidedly short-term in
its vision. According to UAW
president Douglas Fraser, labor con-
cessions will save Ford $1 billion over
the next two and a half years, through
limits on wage increases and cost of
living expenses. In return, Ford will
:share its profits and guarantee con-
.tinuing wages to senior workers who
yget laid off. Supposedly this new con-
tract will allow Ford to cut its car
-prices and consequently save thousan-
:As of jobs.
These concessions, however, may
iot be the best method of reviving the
stalled auto industry. Because the
concessions focus on relieving the auto
ianufacturers current financial
problems, and not their long-run
dilemmas, the nation soon may hear
.more, cries of distress coming from
Detroit.
The problem that underlies so much
of the nation's economic troubles, and
which is also a central problem in the

auto industry, is a lack of foresight.
American industry-especially the
auto industry-has become obsollete
compared to the industrial innovations
and advances made in Europe and
Japan. Our plants suffer from an
abundance of inefficient equipment
and outmoded management
techniques. The cliched cry of "look
what the Japanese are doing" is unf or-
tunately appropriate in the auto in-
dustry's case. Productivity lags
because we are using plants and
following trends created forty years
ago.
If the auto industry would sink some
of its long-accumulated profits into
new plants and equipment, realistic
improvements in working conditions,
and attempts at worker/management
harmony, America might be able to
compete with the amazing success of
the foreign manufacturers. Instead
the auto industry's management still
pays its stockholders large dividends
and then bargains with its workers for
lower wages.
Certainlyslabor and management's
ability to achieve a compromise is
laudable. Hopefully General Motors
and the UAW will reach some sort of
equivalent agreement. But at the
same time there is a dangerous, and
potentially disastrous neglect of the
future built into these negotiations.
The decline of an industry cannot be
halted by a single agreement - long-
range, comprehensive planning
toward a more efficient future, coupled
with such agreements, offer the only
salvation for Detroit and the auto in-
dustry.

Suppose a handful of ill-educated rubes
sporting the latest in K-Mart paramilitary
fashions (you know, Dacron safari shirts,
black polyester double-knits, Nu-Vinyl jack-
boots, and plastic Darth Vader helmets) an-
nounced plans for a demonstration in front of
the Ann Arbor City Hall, complete with
crudely lettered signs and inarticulate
slogans. Would anybody care-or even
notice?
If they were members of the Revolutionary
Howard
Communist Youth Brigade or the Save the
Whales Foundation or the Women's Garden
Club, the answer would certainly be no. (Well,
okay-maybe the sight of the Women's Gar-
den Club marching around with helmets
might turn a few heads).
But these simian goons, these pitiful
morons, these backward dregs from the ef-
fluent of society will be wearing swastikas on
the arms of their Dacron shirts. Which tran-
sforms them from polyester clowns into
powerful neo-Nazis-or so you would think
judging from all the attention they are get-
ting.
LAST WEEK, while most of us were away
on vacation, the "S.S. Action Group," a
Detroit-based neo-Nazi group with a mem-
bership of 15, announced plans for a rally in
front of City Hall on March 20. -
Immediately the papers lunged for the

story and the television vultures started cir-
cling overhead, while back on earth various
community.groups planned strategy sessions
and the police department dusted off its riot
gear.
It all went off like clockwork. The neo-Nazis
set the time and the alarm started blaring.
Most Congressmen couldn't generate such
furor if they ran naked through the streets
promising to vote for a tax increase.
But the neo-Nazis can. And they know it.
They are perhaps the most skillful
manipulators of the media since Joe McCar-
thy. Year after year, in city after city, the
neo-Nazis have had only to announce plans for
a demonstration and the media have rushed
up like lap-dogs to a biscuit. And year after
year, in city after city, the public has com-
plained about the extensive media
coverage-all the while continuing to buy
papers and watch TV news.
MOST OF THE time the neo-Nazis don't
even have to show up for their scheduled
rallies. They have gotten so many column in-
ches, so many videotape reels simply as a
result of their announcement that they don't
need to rouse themselves from their seedy
mobile homes or polish up their vinyl. For the
cost of a phone call or a postage stamp, they
can double or even triple their ranks as a few
more crazies are attracted by all the free
publicity.
My question is this: Why repeat, this whole
pattern again in Ann Arbor? There is, after
all, something we can do about it. We can
manipulate the media just as the neo-Nazis
do.
First off, let's try to understand that the
media generally produce what sells. If a
newspaper editor senses that his audience is

only interested in one or two stories about
Zimbabwe, then that's all he's going to
publish.
By the same token, if a TV producer feels
that her audience wants two minutes on the
neo-Nazis every night for a week, then that's
what we're going to see. Economics is the bot-
tom line.
WHY DO YOU suppose most newspapers
don't publish the names of rape victims or
juvenile delinquents? Sure, some lofty ethical
principles enter into it. But mostly, the
audience won't stand for it.
If enough people write angry letters or can-
cel their subscriptions or stop patronizing ad-
vertisers or turn the channel, you can be sure
the newspapers and television stations will
quickly modify their coverage. So there's one
power we hold-and there are a lot more of us
than there are neo-Nazis.
But we have an even simpler, more effec-
tive weapon at our disposal. We can dismiss
the neo-Nazis for what they are-an incon-
sequentially tiny band of sociopaths not wor-
thy of the legitimacy that our attention gives
them-and ignore them.
Certainly anti-Semitism and racism are
growing problems in our society. But let's ex-
pend our anti-defamation efforts by educating
the bigoted and helping the oppressed-not by
reacting to the hollow taunts of some half-
baked neo-Nazis.
Just remember: The bigger the conflict, the
juicier the stories and the longer the film
clips. We have it in our power to determine
whether the neo-Nazis get a 20-inch story on
Page 1 or three inches on Page 10.

Witt's column appears every Tuesday.

-N

Sinclair

Higher education trends

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ANEW AMERICAN trend is
catching on in Europe this year.
But unlike the harmless fashion or
mnusical fads that often cross the
ocean, this new trend-drastically cut-
ting funds for higher education-may
bring harmful consequences if it
spreads rapidly.
A recent analysis by the Paris-based
Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development reveals
that the majority of free market
European countries currently are
following the Reagan administration's
policy of sacrificing support for higher
education for budgetary con-
siderations. The overwhelming con-
sensus among European university
leaders, the analysis reveals, is that
their governments have shifted
economic priorities and, imitating the
United States, have given education a
dangerously low status.
This is not the first time the United
States-has inspired European
educational trends. In the 1970s many
European countries attempted to catch
up with the broad American university
system by widening course offerings
and student access to their colleges.

Many European educators hoped that
the 1980s would usher in an easily ac-
cessible, broad-based university
system to rival America.
Instead of finding new opportunities,
however, Europeans will now rival the
United States only in the size of their
educational funds cutbacks. Univer-
sity presidents in both Great Britain
and France predict that their gover-
nments will continue the American
policy of foregoing higher education
support to meet economic difficulties.
Both the United States and Europe
have a similar need to salvage their
economies with new policies. But the
similarity should end there. The
disastrous consequences of repeating
educational cutbacks in Europe are
obvious. Cutting funds now will destroy
the potential an educated, vital youth
can give to an economy in the future.
Europe can avoid the Reagan ad-
ministration's shortsighted mistakes
by recognizing that higher education,
because of the benefits it brings to
youths and to nations, deserves con-
tinued and consistent support.
Europeans should realize that making
higher education an expendable item is
not a trend worth following.

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LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

F

GEO dictates rules to union members

To the Daily:
As a graduate student affected
by the recent ruling permitting
unionization on this campus, I
would like to know whether we
are being allowed to form a union
or forced.
I contend that the latter/is the
case. It is my belief that the
majority of students attempting to
work their way through graduate
school by holding positions in the
University structure do not want
or need the political hassles of the
Graduate Employees
Weasel

Organization. It .is a fact that
GEO is trying to force the issue
on the student worker. GEO is
demanding the same amount of
money from each student
whether the student joins the
union or not. If one joins, the
payment is "dues," if not, the
money is considered a "volun-
tary contribution." Isn't that an
interesting distinction? In case
the student balks at the choice,
GEO wants the University to fire
the student.

It is an outrage that this kind of
blackmail should occur at an in-
stitution of free minds. I
challenge GEO to demonstrate
that they truly represent the
majority or to reveal that they
are merely a dictatorial oligar-
chy. The proof can be found in the
vote tally on a single question. Do
the graduate students working in
the University system need or
want a union? This question can-
not be answered by returning
postcards indicating our

"preferred" mode of payment
No free choice is involved in tha
process.
I therefore urge all graduaf
students being shafted by GE(
not to return their postcards unt
GEO can answer that singl
question to the satisfaction of a
the student workers they claiml
represent.
-Catherine Markwiese
Graduate Student Staff
Assistant
February 16

Reagan

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By Robert Lence

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