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August 10, 1984 - Image 6

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1984-08-10

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OPINION

Page 6
Vol. XCIV, No. 35-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
Hydroelectric giveaway
TN 1937, THE completion of the Hoover Dam
became a symbol of the power of gover-
nment to contribute mightily to the economic
well being of the nation. Now, it seems, the
Hoover Dam is about to become a symbol of
senseless government waste and political
hypocracy.
Just as the federal government is preparing
to run its largest budget deficits in history, the
administration, apparently with the support of
Rep. Carl Pursell (R-Mich.), is preparing to
virtually give away millions of dollars in
hydroelectric power from the Hoover Dam.
Under the original contracts for the dam's
power, electricity was to be sold to a group of
public and private utilities "at cost." Today,
because of Hoover Dam's tremendous ef-
ficiency, the "cost" of Hoover power runs
around one-half cent per kilowatt
hour-roughly one tenth the average rate paid
by Americans for electricity.
The "at cost" contracts were set to expire in
1987, until a group of Republican and western
politicians with the strong backing of
President Reagan forced a bill through
Congress to extend the bargain basement
rates for 30 years. One of the members of the
group was Carl Pursell.
The continuation of the law rates will result
in an unconscionable waste of an extremely
valuable federal resource. With very few ex-
ceptions, the government has an obligation to
manage its assets as prudently as possible for
the benefit of all of its citizens. If the gover-
nment has offshore oil it wishes to sell, it has
an obligation to sell it at the best price it can
get. The taxpayers and the citizenry as a
whole deserve nothing less. Hoover Dam, while
a slightly different type of asset, should be
subject to the same rules.
There's simply no compelling reason for
providing virtually free energy to a small area
of the country at the expense of the federal
coffers. Unlike the situation with the Ten-
nessee Valley projects, southern California
and the Southwest generally are hardly an
economically backward area.
Further, as federal and state energy plan-
ners have realized in the years since 1970's
energy shortages, artificially inexpensive
energy is no bargain. It encourages
economically absurd uses of energy while
discouraging innovations which could make
limited energy sources go further.
In an era when our nation is plagued by
shortages of energy and shortages of federal
tax revenue, giveaways of both are in-
tolerable. The new Hoover power contracts
promise to be an unmitigated disaster.

Friday, August 10, 1984

The Michigan Daily

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FELL TWI4CE ON T-ME SP~AESPOT

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THE YLA.NET MEESE- THE MILPOUS AAOO-
LAR&E BUT RECENTLY OUT OF VIEW ON T1E elSE N~jAA
Vietnam 's legacy continues,
but Watergate fades a way

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By Franz Schurmann
Vietnam has not been forgot-
ten, but Watergate just about
has.
The specter of Vietnam con-
tinues to press upon us-in the
media, in political debates, and in
the presence of tens of thousands
of veterans who still show the
physical or emotional scars of the
war.
BUT WE know that Watergate
is fading from memory because
its chief culprit, Richard Nixon,
is enjoying a resurrection. In
fact, far more than Gerald Ford
or Jimmy Carter, Nixon has
become the presidential elder
statesman, much sought after for
his views and counsel.
The Vietnam war was a war
that most people never under-
stood. We were drawn into it
because our government told us it
was vital to stop communism, but
meanwhile, we were on friendly
terms with the Soviet Com-
munists and preparing for our
current cozy relationship with the
Chinese Communists.
And, when we decided to pull
out of the war, our Vietnam vets
were treated almost like pariahs
by the bureaucracy. It was as if
they and not the government had
brought shame to the good name
of the United States.
Throughout the war and its af-
termath, the government attem-
pted to manipulate public opinion
with lies and half-truths. And
those lies have not been forgot-
ten.
WATERGATE, OF course, also
involved lies at the highest levels
of government. But Watergate
generated no dead or ravaged
bodies. A dozen or so Nixon of-
ficials and operatives went to
jail, and Nixon himself suffered
an Aaron Burr-like ignominy. But

it did no lasting damage to the in-
stitution of the presidency, which.
today seems as powerful an office
as ever.
Moreover, Nixon was hardly
the first president to resort to dir-
ty tricks. The revered Franklin
Roosevelt had J. Edgar Hoover
spy on his political opponents.
Lyndon Johnson used to let
Hoover regale him with confiden-
tial material on politicians'
secret lives. And there have been
the subsequent "-gates," like
Korea-gate, Billy-gate and,
lately, Debate-gate.
The Abscam scandals sent a
senator to prison. To many
Americans, all Watergate did
was to give Washington the
smelly aroma of a corrupt city
hall.
BUT FOR a lot of people, that
was precisely Richard Nixon's
greatest sin, one for which he
should have suffered much worse
punishment than he got. Until
Watergate, the American
president still aroused awe.
Franklin Roosevelt was revered
almost as a cult figure. John
Kennedy was like a young king.
Johnson looked like some evil but
awesome force in his latter days.
Nixon, so it appeared, made the
world's mightiest office into a
backroom for vulgar schemes.
Since Watergate, the White
House may have recovered its
power, but not its aura. There is
no longer any "imperial"
presidency. Yet while some
people hanker after the old days,
the public seems just as glad that
the presidential office has
assumed simple human dimen-
sions.
THE VIETNAM WAR brought
about a great change in the
public's attitude toward gover-
nment. Since the Depression,
Americans had looked up to
Washington as a source of

beneficent power, worthy of
respect. Now it is just a vast
bureaucracy, filled with
politicians, patronage appoin-
tees, and networks linked to
myriads of special interest.
Government is not that different
from city hall. And the president,
in many ways, is just the nation-
wide mayor.
But there is still one big dif-
ference. Unlike any mayor, the
president has the power to push
the nuclear trigger. And that dif-
ference helps explain the
resurrection of Richard Nixon.
People are more concerned.
about nuclear war than they have
been since the first atom bombs
were explored. And most people
over 30 remember that Nixon
gave the country a powerful
foreign policy that worked within
the context of detente with Russia
and China. The nuclear world of
Nixon's time was a dangerous
one, buta manageable one. There
is a strong desire to know from
the maligned ex-president him-
self how he put such a foreign
policy together.
AMERICANS ARE not anti-
government. They want gover-
nment to treat citizens with care,
operate efficiently and honestly
and protect us from a dangerous
world. Because Washington
failed on all these grounds with
the Vietnam War, Americans will
not forget it.
But Watergate only affected
politicians and their operatives,
not ordinary citizens. It was a
political battle which Nixon lost.
For these reasons, Watergate
weighs less heavily than it did 10
years ago, while Vietnam
remains etched in vivid public
memory.
Schurman wrote this article
for Pacific News Service.

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