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August 07, 1981 - Image 8

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Michigan Daily, 1981-08-07

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Opinion

4

Page 8

Friday, August 7, 1981

The Michigan Daily

States have rights too!

By Mark Gindin

their tax dollars, block grants are
the best remedy.
EVENTUALLY the argumen-

waste, because the costly process
of filtering dollars back to the
taxpayers is simplified. With less
mirliin~m~s b etniahtv ha

safety in numbers, but danger in
collectivity. The original foun-
ders recognized that principle
dnr diinr fnrnn svr

The closer the government gets to the individuals it ts against rights for localites will miduwe-menstaningetween te ana mite the tederal gover-
governs, the better. When far off and detached from the come down to how much power to consumer and the government, nment.
citizens, government is hardly responsive to their needs. give them. In the past, rights there is less needless allocation of The states are now servants of
When close by and immediate, it can be more sensitive, were abused and people-par- valuable resources. the central government, exactly
more effective. ticularly minorites-were taken The economic advantages of opposite from the tradition of the
Local school boards, for example, are directly controlled advantage of. Clearly, too much block grants, however, pales in Jeffersons and Madisons
by those who are affected by their policies. The same ap- power was given them, and the comparison to the philosophical established. We have not benefit-
plies to city and township councils. The proximity of the constitutional guarantees of in- advantage-the increase in ted from collectivity, in fact, we
power base to the citizens makes for smooth leadership and dividual protection under the law freedom and autonomy for the have lost freedom.
active voter participation.
ON THE OTHER hand, the federal government often dic-
tates the policies of remote areas it hardly has any direct
communication with. Many environmental, labor-
management, and educational regulations do not ap-
preciate the unique needs of the diverse localities which
they control, and often they are unrealistic and un-
manageable.
Block grants proposed by the Reagan administration are
the intermediate step between federal and local control of were ignored. However, the states and localities. Ultimately, freedom is the
various programs, and they should be encouraged, rather abuses of the past should not be The United States of America issue. By centering the source of
than condemned, by the civil-minded citizens seeking uses o teptul otde Te U nited tates . Ame y cewer in the soue f
justice. For those who demand a more equitable return for used as a perpetual condem- are just that united states. They power in the hands of the federal
nation of the concent_ united for the common defense bureaucgnrats_ the will of the in-

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Also, local control leads to less

and general welfare. There is

divduLdbecomesinsignificant.,
dividual becomes insignificant.

The Michigan Daily
Vol. XCI, No. 57-S
Ninety Years of Editorial Freedom
Edited and managed by students
at the University of Michigan
Sadat's doomed
peace initiative
Anwar Sadat's visit to Washington this week
was filled with noble ambitions and high ex-
pectations, but now that it has concluded,
there's nothing to cheer about.
Recent events in the Mideast have had
several effects. Notable among these was the
decimated political influence of the Egyptian
president-once an integral force-who
helplessly watched the region-wide hostilities
intensify. Also, the escalating Israeli-
Palestinian conflict made it clear that mutual
diplomatic acknowledgement is crucial.
Israel's bombing of PLO headquarters ap-
peared more provocative than defensive, and
the Arafat-orchestrated retaliations did little
more than cement their bilateral disdain.
Sadat's discussions with President
Reagan-and his suggestion that the PLO be
included in peace talks-could have
ameliorated both of these effects. Reagan
could have used the opportunity to admit that,
yes, the Palestinian nation does exist and cer-
tainly isn't going away. By doing so, he would
have simultaneously re-established Sadat's
role as a prime mover in the lethargic region.
Instead, we heard more anti-Soviet tough talk
and a shallow vow to continue peace efforts,
without the PLO.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

States need federal laws

By Fred Schill
To a liberal Southerner like me,
"states' rights" reeks of racism
and Good 01' Boy politics. It was
under the guise of fighting for
states' rights that the boys of the
South fought to maintain the
racist status quo in the early
1960s.
The term has lingering con-
notations that frustrate efforts to
re-define it in its neo-Reaganist
context. Small wonder that the
administration avoids using the
phrase when foaming on and on
about returning power to the
cities.
ESSENTIALLY, the Reagan
administration believes one good
way to shrink the federal gover-
nment is to divest it of many
responsibilities, such as Social
Security, and endow them in-
stead on state governments. This
is a common idea among many
who feel the federal government
has become too pervasive.
This is perhaps the most reac-
tionary of Reagan's multifarious
return-to-the-good-old-days in-
clinations. The problem with too
many right-wingers is that they
seem to remember the "good old
days" a little differently than the
history books.
They seem to remember a
federal government that usurped
the power of smoothly-
functioning states, presumably in
an orgy of liberal government
gluttony. Only blacks and a few of
us pinki left-wingers seem to
recall the days of states' rights as
less than idyllic. .
IN FACT, THE problem the
courts and eventually even
Congress found with leaving vir-
tually all government to the
states was that ther wa s astoqn-
ding inequity in the application of

the Constitution and federal laws.
For instance, Southern states
had a markedly different idea of
how to interpret the Fourteenth
Amendment than did many other
states.
If Ronald Reagan had been in
office in the early 1960s and really
wanted to enforce his states'
rights approach to government,
blacks might still be forced to
take "literacy tests" that Ein-
stein couldn't pass in order to
vote.
Those who feel that such balony
is all parr-of the past should spend
some time in Birmingham,
Alabama or Michigan. White-
flight suburbanites are making
life very unpleasant for any
blacks who dare to venture into
Debutante-land, while the Ku
Klux Klan and other racist
organizations are aggressively
on the rebound. It is not beyond
my imagination to envision a
time in the future when racism is
again legislated.
NOR IS THE issue limited to
racism. Many states, again
notably southern ones, continue
to enforce all manner of laws that
discriminate against women. Not
coincidentally, almost no
southern state has ratified the
Equal Rights Amendment. Bias
runs deep in the human condition.
What it all boils down to is that,
at some point, the people (some
say the federal government)
determine that some issues are
too important to leave to the
whim of individual states.
Racism was hopefully such an
issue, and the intrusion of the
federal government into this
sector of state power was based
on unacceptable abuses of
'states' rights by those who
wielded power.
rStates' rights, even in less fun-
damental areas such as Social

Security, can only work smoothly
when disparities and inequities
are not too widespread. Anyone
who considers the expense cause
by state-to-state disparities in
even minor concerns-for instan-
ce, auto manufacturers must
make somewhat different cars
for California because of the
state's tough pollution
laws-should pause and think
awhile about transfering Social
Security and other programs to
the state level.
WHAT MIGHT happen if
several states decided not to
maintain Social Security, either
because they could not afford to
(Michigan comes to mind) or
don't want to? It is not incon-
ceivable that such a situation
could accentuate the migratory
trend to wealthier, less troubled
states.
But even if moving Social
Security to the state level
wrought no havoc, caused no con-
fusion, nor perpetuated inequities
or abuses, it establishes a
dangerous precedent. Many
reactionaries, Reagan among
them, would like to make this the
first of many responsibilities lif-
ted to the states.
Abuse of the so-called states
rights too blatant to be ignored
led to the Civil War in the 1860s.
History repeated itself when
abuse of states brought an on-
slaught of civil rights legislation
and a broadening of the federal
power base 20 years ago.
As Marx noted, when history
repeats itself once, it is a
tragedy. When it repeats itself
twice, it is farce.
Gindin and Schill will con-
clude their 4-round bout neat
Friday.

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