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July 13, 1984 - Image 6

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1984-07-13

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Page 6
Vol. XCIV, No.23-S
94 Years of Editorial Freedom
Managed and Edited by Students at
The University of Michigan
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the
Daily Editorial Board

Friday, July 13, 1984
wE'RE caT OF ofoNE/ --

Freedom restraints
O NCE AGAIN, President Reagan has per-
formed a remarkable policy pirouette for
blatantly political reasons. Remember the
emotional denunciation of air bags in the 1980
campaign? The pledge to "get government off
the backs of the American people?" No more.
The administration, in a shameless and incon-
sistent play to the safety lobby, has
wholeheartedly embraced a group of un-
necessary restrictions on automobile -
On Tuesday, Transportation Secretary
Elizabeth Dole announced that automobiles
operated in the United States will be required
to possess some sort of passive restraints-
regardless of the wishes of individual drivers'
and the market as a whole. In order to save
thousands of lives a year in the most1
economically efficient manner, the ad-
ministration will require cars to be equipped
with air bags, automatic safety belts, or
crash-resistant interiors.
In doing so, the government has ignored
some very important principals of liberal
democracy. Specifically, it is not up to the
government to save these lives. The gover-
nment is robbing the people of their basic right
to personal autonomy.
Everyone in a free society should have the
right to make stupid or regrettable decisions
- a point eloquently made by Reagan in the
1980 campaign. The lives they put at risk by
not buying air bags are their own. It seems
now that the president has illustrated his real
commitment to individual liberties.
Another, particularly disturbing aspect of
the administration' new stance is the subtle
blackmail it uses to coerce states into passing
mandatory seatbelt laws. Dole's announ-
cement stipulates that if states representing
two-thirds of the U.S. population pass man-
datory seat belt laws, the passive restraint
order will be rescinded.,
In one sweeping movement, the ad-
ministration has presented the state
legislatures with a sticky problem of deciding
how their citizens will be manipulated. They
can either allow the government to write their
criminal statutes for them, or allow the ad-
ministration needlessly to pre-empt the
choices of every automobile purchaser in the
Some choice.

wAT cAu wE DO?
- 2
Democracy emer
strength for a tr

By Franz Schurmann
As the Democratic Convention
approaches, it's worth noting that
democracy as a political system
is thriving around the world.
Faulted and corrupt as elections
often are, they nonetheless are
seen as indispensible by regimes
of all stripes.
While there is plenty of voter
apathy in the United States,
elsewhere one increasingly finds
big voter turnouts. Even when
people stay away from the polls,
if often is an act of protest rather
than one of disinterest.
THE TREND is especially
notable in Latin America, where
20 years ago one military junta
after another usurped power.
Washington grumbled but
rationalized the faits accommpli
with the argument that
authoritarian military regimes
could at least guarantee
economic progress. When the
Brazilian junta, which started the
process of militarization in 1964
generated an "economic
miracle," whatever was left of
U.S. concerns about democracy
vanished entirely.
Now, the economic miracles
have vanished and democracy is
reasserting itself.
The Argentinian junta is gone,
succeeded by a strong president
elected in a euphoric popular
election. Though the Brazilian
junta has. warded off intense
pressure for direct presidential
elections, that country, too, is
moving steadily toward
has clamped a popular opposition
figure in jail after his return from
exile, but pressures for a return
to traditional democracy there
also are increasing. And in Chile,
Augusto Pinochet Ugarte stub-
bornly holds on to power even as

democratic fri
breaking out allar
Venezuela and E
never went then
have working
systems. Peru i
economic shape a:
surgency, but eli
ue to be held. Bol
down an attem
smuggling rightist
military rule who
forces decidedt
In Central
Guatemala recen
tions even though
determined to ho
Flawed as the I
elections may hav
percentage of the
out as they did in t
election. The Sa
hold elections in ea
and even commu
begun to ginger]
with local election:
munist world, the
juntahwaS forced t
which it "won"
voter turnout
Solidarity's call
And liberal Hur
toying with the ide
democratically liv
All over Wes
national elections
despite the low t
European parlia
On the ne
democracy still s
to many African
dia's Indira Ghani
habit of imposing
rule" on state aft(
though no one beli
diversity and tur
country, that den
snuffed out there.
INDIA, IN fact
democracy has ti

The Michigan Daily
(,1-1--("E~ MONEY W WANTf
ging: Political
oubled world
eedoms are such an indispensible political
oundhim. system. There, as elsewhere,
r whi' h growing ethnic diversity and
military route, political sophistication have
democratic resulted in an upwelling of
s in terrible demands for civil and human
ad faces an in ihs
ections contin Villagers stream into
bvia just faced ballooning cities, and there they
apt by dope- acquire the political savvy, the
storeinstihe daring and the truculence toward
to stick with authority characteristic of urban
to sick ith people anywhere in the world.
America, Anger rises easily, and almost as
Amelec- easily forms into political op-
tly heldryi position. When that opposition is
the military is not allowed to vent itself at the
El Slo r. ballot box, it easily flows into
e been, a large illegal violence or insurgency.
voters turned All this should not make
theealie vr- Americans smug that "ur"
ndinistas will democratic system is winning
rly November, out. There is nothing American,
mist Cuba has per se, about democracy.
ly experiment Aristotle held that of the three
s possible forms of government
in the com- (tyranny, oligarchy,
olish mhlita democracy), none worked all
Polish military that well, but that a democracy
despite a low guided by people of character
because of and nobility was the least un-
for a boycott workable.
ngary also is DEMOCRACY IS the only
a of making its political system that makes sense
a more in a pressure-cooker world.
rely body. r Americans should also note
tern Europe that des ite the blase attitude
remain lively' owr democracy in the United
urnout for the States, the pressures are building
rnot r helec- here as well. The Jackson cam-
paign demonstrated that fact so
gative side' far as blacks are concerned. The
gamterisde Latinos have yet to be heard
eems too risky from. And, fcus ra
rulers, and In- fo. Ad of course, great
di continues her 'pressures will surely arise if the
strong "central current strong U.S. economic
er Indian state, recovery should go the way of the
ieves, given the earlier Latin American
'bulence of the "miracles."
nocracy can be
Schurmann wrote this ar-
, suggests why ticlefor Pacific News Service.
urned out to be




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