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January 13, 1986 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1986-01-13

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I

OPINION
Page4 Monday, January 13, 1986 The Michigan Daily

Editn mdbtat ni t Mi
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

America the

beautiful?

Vol. XCVI, No. 72

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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

Balancing Act

0 THE GRAMM-RUDMAN Act is
' a powerful piece of legislation.
C Because of the Reagan Ad-
ministration's intended policies,
the act is likely to be harmful,
especially for the poor.
Under the provisions of the act,
the White House and Capitol Hill
must cut the deficit by $11.7 billion
this year, reduce the projected 1987
deficit by $50 billion, and make
similar cuts each year until the
budget is balanced in 1991. If
lawmakers cannot follow the
prescribed schedule, automatic
cuts, both in defense and social
programs, will go into effect.
The law itself seeks a favorable
end - a balanced budget. The
current budget deficit is a burden
to the national and international
economy. The federal gover-
nment's enormous demand for
capital to cover its debts keeps in-
terest rates high. As a result, long-
term investment decreases and
unemployment increases. In ad-
dition, short-term foreign invest-
ment in American banks, prom-
pted by high interest rates, leads to
an overvalued dollar, a slowdown
in exports, more unemployment,
and defaults on American loans to
foreign countries. Clearly,
reducing the deficit should be an
important'national priority.
However, the Reagan Ad-
ministration's method of cutting
the. deficit is to force the poor to
assume the cost. Reagan's plan is
consistent with earlier attempts to
increase economic growth at the
expense of those who are least able
to afford it.

Specifically, the President
proposes to eliminate programs
that currently aid America's
distressed cities, including $4.6
billion revenue-sharing programs,
$400 million in funds for develop-
ment grants, and the sewage
treatment program. Reagan also
proposes to freeze public-housing
subsidies and cut funds for mass
transit.
In addition, Reagan plans to cut
such programs as medicaid,
medicare, and student loans, all of
which are already underfunded. He
would have the public believe that
cuts, however unfortunate, in these
and other social programs are
necessary to achieve a balanced
budget. However, it is possible to
have both a balanced budget and
well funded social programs.
Under an administration more
concerned with the needs of the
poor, Gramm-Rudman could be a
positive act. Cuts in the forecasted
$286 billion military budget, steep
taxes on speculative corporate
takeovers, and a highly
progressive federal income tax
could constitute the revenue
needed to close the deficit gap in
accordance with Gramm-
Rudman's prescribed schedule,
and the entire society could benefit.
Such a conscientious ad-
ministration does not presently oc-
cupy the White House. In the mean
time, voters should urge represen-
tatives to resist cuts in badly
needed social programs, to support
overdue cuts in military spending,
and to increase the taxes of those
who can afford it.

By Brian Leiter
The widespread promotion and main-
tenance of illusions and falsehoods in
American public life is facilitated by the
fact that outward appearances suggest an
independent and critical mechanism - the
media - through which any claim about
public life must be filtered. This contrasts
markedly with the totaletarian societies
where the media cannot support a pretense
of critical independence because of the
widely acknowledged role of government in
the promulgation of all information; con-
sequently, the media can not function as a
legitimator of knowledge. American media,
on the other hand, are always careful to
foster debate between "opposing" views
and even, under special circumstances, to
admit a radically divergent perspective;
similarly, the media and its spokesmen are
continually busy remarking on and
celebrating - in an almost masturbatory
fashion - their independence and critical
acumen.
Yet an examination of how the major
media handle almost any issue and a com-
parison of this treatment with that afforded
in a host of equally if not more credible
sources (e.g. scholarly research, the West
European press, legitimately non-aligned
international watchdog groups and research
centers) reveals the existence of deep-
seated and pervasive norms and ideological
commitments which inform and shape
American news reporting.
And for this to be the case is really not
surprising 'if the character of the major
American media is considered more fully.
In totalitarian societies where disbursement
of information is subject to government con-
trol, no one doubts that Big Government -
which represents the interests and needs of
a particular power constellation, typically
the governing party elite - requires news to
conform to certain norms and ideological
purposes. American media, while not sub-
ject to explicit government control, are sub-
ject to corporate control, whether it be
Time-Life, Inc., the American Broadcasting
Company, or the New York Times, Inc. Big
Corporations, like their totalitarian coun-
terparts, represent the interests and needs
of particular power constellations, in this
case, the capitalist economy elite
(stockholders and top-level management
and facilitators). In both cases, we should
expect the principle to be the same: a power
constellation will not allow itself to be the
vehicle for information which upsets its own
power base. In terms of their instinctive
commitments, Time publisher John Meyers
and Mikhail Gorbachev have more in com-
mon than their superficial divergent
political views suggest.
The actual operation and implementation
of regulating norms and ideologies in the
American media is a complicated matter,
which I will say more about tomorrow. I
want to turn now, however, to an illustration
of this phenomenon: the media treatment of
U.S. foreign policy.
Media treatment of U.S. foreign policy is
governed by three regulating beliefs: 1. U.S.
Leiter is a graduate student in law and
philosophy.

foreign policy is driven by a desire to
promote freedom and democracy abroad; 2.
Given this motive, the U.S. is justified in in-
tervening in the affairs of other countries to
serve this end, especially where this in-
volves resisting communism, the primary
enemy of freedom and democracy; 3. When
the U.S. supports or commits atrocities or
rights violations it is either a. the product of
the force of circumstance (e.g. it's either
Botha or communism in S. Africa), or b. an
isolated and anomalous phenomenon
resulting from, for example, some over-
zealous anti-communism (a frequent liberal
line on Reagan's war in Nicaragua) or the
immoral and universally condemned acts of
particular individuals (e.g. My Lai and
Lieut. Calley). In all events, such crimes
are "misfortunate" and represent a depar-
ture from the norm of moral and idealistic
foreign policy.
Seen from a distance, these beliefs con-
stitute a very clever propaganda system
which any fascist regime would be proud to
implement with the same success enjoyed
by the U.S. media. This is not to suggest a
conscious campaign of deception; quite the
contrary, it is likely that the members of the
media themselves adhere to this, world-
view. That fact suggests the far-reaching
character of these myths.
But they are myths nonetheless. Belief 1 is
not only unsupported by the historical
evidence, but it is flatly contradicted by
almost every major foreign policy decision,
especially since WWII. Consequently, the
frequent invocation of Belief 2 is, not sur-
prisingly, almost without exception the
cover for the installation of regimes of
terror and exploitation. The brilliance of the
system is realized however in Belief 3. For
the inescapable fact is that when a country
is engaged in brutality and aggression on
the scale which the U.S. has been, it is
highly likely that unpleasant incidents and
facts will surface. 3 quickly assimilates
those events that surface into a framework
in which they are dismissed as anomalous
and universally subjected to moral op-
probrium, even by the very government of-
ficials whose directives these events are
only symptomatic of. Thus, theaU.S. and the
media turned on Lieut. Calley with a
vengeance, quickly obscuring the fact that
heavy civilian casualties were a regular
part of the U.S. war, that the U.S., along with
the Diem regime, had been involved in
systematic extermination of civilian
populist and democratic activists as early
as 1957, and that during the war the CIA was
involved in numerous extermination
programs aimed at striking fear in the
civilian populace, the most notorious being
the Phoenix Program between 1968-70.
The success of the implementation of this
belief system within the general populace
requires a review of some of the major U.S.
involvements since WWII to illustrate the
scope of the deception. Consider these even-
ts:
*The first applicaton of the Truman Doc-
trine was in Greece where, following the
collapse of the British-imposed royalist
government, the CIA organized the inter-
nment, exile, "re-education," and/or
execution of tens of thousands of Greeks
(communists and anti-government non-

communists) - all without trial.
eWith U.S. support, Thailand's post-WWlI
democracy was gradually undermined by
the military, leading to the return to power
of Thailand's pro-Axis dictator from the
war, Phobue Songkham.
*In 1953, the U.S. toppled the Iranian
government and installed the Shah.
eIn 1954, the U.S. overthrew the reformist,
Arbenz government in Guatemala
replacing it with a fascist regime,
predecessor of today's brutal military diec
tatorship.
*In 1957, the U.S.-installed Diem regime in
S. Vietnam commenced a campaign of rural
terror against widespread populist op-
position. This culminated with the U.S. in-
vasion in 1962 and the systematic bombing
of rural areas and the herding of villager
into concentration camps in order to flush
out the rebel elements. Before the first N.
Vietnamese troops entered S. Vietnai
(1965), this campaign had killed over 150,000
S. Vietnamese.
In 1964, the Brazilian government was
overthrown in a U.S.-backed military coup.
'I" 1965, there was a U.S.-backed coup iii
Indonesia followed by a tremendous influx
of military and economic aid; meanwhile
the Indonesian government pursued a Viet-
namese-style campaign of rural terror
killing some half million peasants; the U.S.
aid continued in the late '70's during the In-
donesian invasion of East Tim or and the eh-
suing genocide (the U.S. also blocked U.N.
action on the genocide).
eIn 1965, U.S. marines invaded the
Dominican Republic following the election
of a socialist; new elections were held iti
which an acceptable candidate won.
*In 1973, the CIA and several
multinational corporations organized and 6
backed the overthrow of the democratically-
elected Allende government in Chile,
replacing it with the brutal Pinochet
regime.
eIn keeping with its traditional foreign
policy prerogatives, the U.S. is now working
to overthrow the government in Nicaragua.
In addition to these quite explicit inter-
ventions, the U.S., usually via the CIA, has
been responsible for .training the secret
police in the Shah's Iran and the roami
death squads of Bolivia, Uruguay and
Paraguay. (The notable achievement of the
Paraguayan secret police has been alter-
nately the enslavement and the exter
mination of the Ache Indians.) The. U.S.
government also has supported and/or is
supporting government in the Phillipines,
South Korea, El Salvador, Argentina (in the
70's), Nicaragua (under Somoza), and Hon-
duras - regimes allknown for their
disregard for human rights and political.
liberties, their widespread use of torture,
and, in some cases, their commitment to
controlling the populace through terror and
murder.
All the regimes the U.S. has been involved
with have crushed popular movements (lef-
tist and non-leftist), destroyed labor unions,
resisted reform, and institutionalized the
economic and political power of business
and military elites.
Tomorrow, Leiter will examine media
treatment of the history of U.S. policy.;

Civilian victory

G UATEMALA has recently
witnessed the election of
Social Democrat Marco Vinicio
Cerezo Arevalo. Cerezo's un-
disputed victory establishes him as
the first civilian president since the
U.S. sponsored counter-
revolutionary coup in 1954. Since
that time, Guatemalans have suf-
fered under successive military
juntas that have indiscriminately
employed internal repression to
protect the oligarchy in the interest
of the status quo.
Although Cerezo and his fellow
Christian Democrats denounce
past military excesses and pledge
to instill true democratic principles
as promised in the social revolution
of 1944, they also pledged not to
take "vengeance" against the
existing military structure. En-
couragingly, Cerezo has stated that
he will curb military excesses by
limiting the army's role to defen-
ding against counter-insurgency in
the countryside. While this
realignment should limit
repression in the urban sector,
what relief can be expected in the
countryside?
In the past, most military abuses
have come in the countryside at the
expense of Indians who constitute
half the country's population. In
1985, these Indians earned an
average income of $85. Because the
oligarchy controls over 95 percent
of the country's arable farmland,
these Indians have been reduced to

Communists did accompany the
Indians' attempt for reform, they
were directed not by Moscow but
rather by indigenous grievances.
After the fall of Somoza in
Nicaragua and a revolutionary
coup in El Salvador in October
1979, General Romeo Lucas or-
dered a full-scale war on the
guerrillas. Following the exter-
mination of some 3,000 civilians
between 1979-1980, the country's
civilian vice president resigned
stating, "There are no political
prisoners in Guatemala, just
political assassinations." In
response, President Carter
publicly denounced the slaughter
and made further military aid con-
ditional on the respect of human
rights.
Current policy is based on the
Administration's publicly stated
distinction between
"authoritarian" and "totalitarian"
governments. As former United
Nations Ambassador Jeane Kirk-
patrick explains, authoritarians
preserve traditional societies and
maintain open capitalist
economies. Totalitarians, in con-
trast, rigidly control all phases of
the society and thus stifle capital
investment.
Today, in response to the
growing restlessness of guerrilla
factions, President Reagan has
reopened and significantly in-
creased assistance to the
Guatemalan military.

Wasserman Ut.WA

IN SIGNING %S1ISI lToRIC BIJD6ET NSVS% M4AMS SO NMANY OW50
BALANCING 1LE6ISLTION, I WOULD O MUCHl...
LIETO NOTE-
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COM~ES NEST?
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RK)I Wh!.AASY
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LETTERS:
A rticle misconstrues pound release "

To the Daily:
I am writing on behalf of the
Humane Society of Huron Valley
in response to the artical " 'U'
scientists defend animal resear-
ch" (12/11/85). The article
clearly confuses the issue of
pound release with the con-
troversy surrounding the use of
animals in research. Although
seemingly related, the two are
distinct issues.
The pound release system
allows animal shelters to release
pets from their facilities for use
in research. The animal shelters
(pounds) throughout Michigan
that practice pound release are
by choice the least developed in
terms of combatting pet-

concerning pet-overpopulation,
eliminating any impetus to solve
the problem. Consequently,
responsible animal shelters and
humanitarians across the state,
as members of the Michigan
Federation of Humane Societies,
drafted the Michigan Impounded
Pet Act (Senate bills 393/394) to
prohibit pound release and man-
date the spaying or neutering of
any dog or cat adopted from an
animal shelter as a long term
solution to pet-overpopulation. Of
importance here, is that the
proposed legislation does not ad-
dress the question of animals as
research subjects - it simply ad-
dresses the appropriate
disposition of shelter animals.

pound release was ignored in
favor of promoting the more
dramatic misconception that the
bills are aimed at eliminating
animals as research subjects by
focusing on dialogue defending
the use of animals in research
and dialogue questioning the use
of animals. It is a shame the
Daily opted for controversy in-
stead of good solid reporting on
one issue or the other. The
Michigan Impounded Pet Act
was not conceived as part of
some plan to eventually bring a
halt to animal research. There
may be people who would like to
see that happen, but it simply has

not been shown to occur in the
states that have already banned
pound release, including
Massachusetts.
The article points to the
research community's defensive
posture concerning their use of
animals. Imagine the goodwill
that could be generated if th'
University's researchers would
support us on this one. If they try
it, they just might like it!
-Leslie Coates
December 13
Coates is the director of
Community Education.

I

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