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January 15, 1982 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1982-01-15

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I

OPINION

Page 4

Friday, January 15, 1982

The Michigan Daily

Edie mtudtsahnig an l
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Wasserman

A

Vol. XCII, No. 86

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, M1 48109

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

Eroding press freedom

RESIDENT Reagan's recent
move to restrict media access to
government information indicates that
the president is ready and willing to
forfeit free speech and free press prin-
ciples simply to spare his ad-
ministration from embarrassment.
At Tuesday's Cabinet meeting,
Reagan announced that in the future,
administration officials would have to
receive prior approval from the White
House communications office before
participating in major news inter-
views. .
Reagan cloaked his announcement
in innocuous terms. Using the frequen-
tly abused rubrick of national security,
he implied that his move was
necessary to block potentially harmful
leaks of classified information. White
House officials offered assurances that
use of the new directive would be
almost exclusively limited to em-
ployees in such sensitive areas as the
Defense Department and the National
Security Council.
But it is now apparent that what
provoked Reagan to invoke such a
restrictive gag order on his Cabinet

was not a national security question,
but rather disclosures on budget in-
formation he found embarrassing. And
now, Reagan plans to extend his gag
order to several other departments:
Labor, Treasury, and even to
Agriculture-not exactly a hotbed of
national security.
To put muscle into his new directive,
Reagan also disclosed plans to initiate
thorough investigations of any em-
ployees found to overstep the new
limits, hinting that even wiretaps
would be resorted to as a means of
stopping leaks.
It is clear that the only thing Reagan
truly hopes to accomplish with his new
restrictions is the total suppression of
information he doesn't care to release.
Reagan's move expresses dangerous
disregard of American free press prin-
ciples.
The order is especially appalling in
light of Reagan's recent denouncement
of free expression restrictions in
Poland. Reagan should realize that he
cannot claim to be a proponent of First
Amendment freedoms, until he
becomes a practitioner himself.

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Recognizing the market

F OR THE FIRST time in years the
United Auto Workers and General
Motors management have bargained
and both have truly compromised. The
result: A contract issue that is
amenable to both sides and one that
will ultimately benefit the consumer.
Earlier this week, the UAW announ-
ced it had agreed to wage concession
with General Motors-provided GM
passes its savings on to the consumer
in the prices of cars. For once, both
sides have seemed to recognize the
value of the market. The union has
recognized that if GM does indeed sell
more cars, more jobs will become
available. GM officials have finally

realized that if auto prices are lower,
more people will purchase cars.
But now that GM has been sold on the
idea, it's Ford's turn. Ford has con-
tinued to balk at the idea, insisting that
GM acted foolishly in making the
precedent-breaking agreement without
waiting for them. Obviously, however,
if Ford is going to be competitive in the
market, it eventually will have to
lower the price of its cars as well.
In GM's case, union and
management have taken long-term
planning into consideration, rather
than short-term greed. It is time Ford
takes on the same long-term con-
siderations, and reaches a similar
compromise with the UAW.

NON THE OTHER HMAP'~
~71
OleR
r s(J"
5 a Yr 1

MIAMI-One of the rings is
known as the "Veggie Group,"
because, its members own a
string of vegetarian restaurants
on both coasts. Another is called
the "Remodelers," after the
series of houses it has restored in
an eastern city. Even when the
rings have no name, however,
they are quietly recognized by
the bars, the clubs, the boutiques,
the apartment buildings and the
condominiums they have
established from the profits of
their trade.
They are, in the words of their
clients, the New Age Syn-
dicates-an ever-broadening
network of middle-class, college-
educated, financially savvy
cocaine dealers whose annual
gross sales have been estimated
as larger than those of all but the
seven largest corporations on the
Fortune 500 chart.
FEDERAL NARCOTICS agen-
ts have acknowledged for some
time that the cocaine traffic by
far is the most profitable drug
trade in merica, well above
heroin. According to the U.S.
Drug Enforcement Ad-
ministration, some 50 metric tons
of cocaine were imported into the
United States last year, with
street sales as high as $35 billion.
Unlike heroin, which is largely
a drug of escape and psychic
relief among the poor, who must
steal to support their habits,
cocaine is the elixir of the upwar-
dly mobile. As a result, its
proliferation has brought into
being a whole new layer of en-
trepreneural speculators which
did not exist even a decade ago.
"We're the true capitalists,"
argued Rick, a moderate coke
dealer who owns his own loft in
Manhattan. "We operate a pure
market system, like the black
market in Russia. There is no law
but the law of supply and
demand. No tax law. No quality
control."
MANY OF Rick's friends use
the drug trade to gather enough
capital to start legitimate
businesses. One, he said, had
opened a chain of hair salons on
the East Coast. Others invest in
high-yield paper-Treasury notes
or even Mexican Pemex bonds
paying 20 percent interest. But
real estate is an easier invest-
ment.
"First you buy false tax for-
ms-remember, there's nothing
that's not for sale. With the phony
tax records you can then go to a

bank and take out a regular mor-
tgage and purchase a run-down
building. Then you use your coke
cash to turn it into a palace. You
pay cash to the carpenters, the
plumbers, the electrical contrac-
tors. You can even buy the fix-
tures hot (stolen) and at the
same time buy inflated receipts
to account for materials.
Everybody loves it because there
Are no real records and no taxes.
"There's an old, East Coast
city where a bunch of us are
buying up -old houses. We have
between 10 and 15 so far-and
that's just our gang. There are at
least 10 different groups working
in the same town . . . that's
probably 100 to 150 houses being
remodeled. We're keeping a lot of
people in work."
RICK CLAIMS that Mafia syn-
dicates seldom are directly in-
volved in the coke and marijuana
traffic except as financial lenders
to the big Colombian and Cuban
wholesalers, or perhaps in taking
a cut for use of boats, barges and
trucks.
"It's so disorganized that
everybody's doing it. Housewives
are dealing on the side. The cops
just busted an 82-year-old gran-
dmother for dealing. Even if the
mob wanted into the trade, how
would they deal with an 82-year-
old grandmother?"
Michael Metzger, a former
federal prosecutor in New York
who now is one of the nation's
leading drug defense attorneys,
agreed. "It's an entirely new set
of people in the cocaine trade.
they're far more diversified than
marijuana dealers, or even the
old mob heroin dealers. These
are airline pilots, shipping

Cocaine:
America 's
8th largest
. industry

By Frank Browning

executives, manufacturers. And
the money goes into the economy
a lot quicker than before because
these people themselves are
already established."
TYPICAL IS the case of a Seat-
tle watei ski manufacturer, Herb
O'Brien, who was sentenced to 10
years in federal prison for
packing cocaine into hollow
pockets within his company's
skis.
O'Brien's company apparently
was highly sprofitable but ready
for a major expansion. Although
the coke trade . seemed a
reasonable way to raise the
necessary cash, unfortunately
O'Brien walked into the arms of a
federal narcotics agent instead of
a bonafide drug dealer.
Said Metzger, who still .is
working on a related case, "Here
was a man who wasn't a long-
haired, dope-smoking hippy-a
married man and father, the
owner of a big business, the sort
who by all outside criteria could
be pointed to as a model of
respectable American success.
And that's the way it usually is."
YET IN COLLEGE towns,
resort towns and even the idyllic
villages of the Poconos, cocaine
and marijuana profits have
become mainstays of the local
economy.
In Miami, universally
recognized as the cocaine capital
of the world (Dade County police
claim 80 percent of all the coke
snorted in the country transits
through southern Florida), some
19 banks have been under in-
vestigation for laundering
cocaine profits and several
bankers there have been indicted
on drug charges. According to

one prominent real estate in-
vestment analyst, 75 percent of
all houses in Dade County valued
above $250,000 are purchase4
with cash-much of it
presumably generated in the
drug trade..
The special popularity of--
cocaine among the affluent kid-
and young professionals account
for the vast opportunities that-
have opened to the so-called New
Age Syndicates. The Veggie
group, for example, is aandful
of bright men in their early.30s
who went to prestigious colleges
and who have established a
"syndicate" based around.,
vegetarian restaurants they
operate in Florida, New York and
the Northern California coastal
counties. The dealers, in other
words, come from the same.
world as their customers.
IT IS THEIR very background,,, -
and financial sophistication
moreover, that have enabled
them to permeate "legitimate"
businesses, especially land and,
housing developments, almost, x
overnight-something that took
nearly a generation for the heroin
smugglers of older syndicates.
Thus, if a major cocaine
operation is busted, the
economical consequences go farj
beyond the drug trade.
Sam, a San Francisco furniture
maker and one-time anti-war ac-
tivist, explained that he gets
nearly all his work from midlevel
to high-roller cocaine operators.
"They- only want the best," he
said. "A lot of them are kind of
paranoid. They always want fan-
cy walnut desks and armoires
with invisible compartments
built in. It's hard to take out theft
insurance on a quarter-million
dollars in coke, you know."
How big a role Sam's
customers play in sustaining the
San Francisco economy is im-
possible to assess, though it
clearly is significant. "Just say a
goddamned lot of carpenters,
roofers, and craftsmen would be
way up the creek if the coke trade
stopped tomorrow. And yeah,
maybe that lawyer's right. They
are greedy scum bags and mod-
squad robber barons. But until
the revolution comes, they're
keeping me in crackers."
Browning is the co-author
of The American Way of Crime. He
wrote this article for Pacific
News Service.

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
End U.S. involvement in El Salvador

To the Daily:
The time hii~as cme when this

to the corrupt and criminal pup-
net dietatnrshin in Fl Salvandor-

always demanded;. the right to

ministration has chosen to give
them terror-tortuire.and rdea~th-

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