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July 17, 1987 - Image 6

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly Summer Weekly, 1987-07-17

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OPINION

Page 6

Friday, July 17, 1987

The Michigan Daily

4

97 Years of Editorial Freedom
No. 9S
Unsigned editorials represent the majority views of the Daily's
Editorial Board. Cartoons and signed editorials do not
necessarily reflect the Daily's opinion.

Standard fare or quality care?

Out of focus

FOR A COUNTRY that can follow
incredibly intricate and complicated
soap operas, for any length of time,
it is astonishing that six days of
testimony by Lieutenant Colonel
Oliver North has thrown most of us
askew from the purposes of these
hearings.
Thanks to the power of televi-
sion, Oliver North has become an
overnight folk hero - with little
substance and a lot of rhetoric.
North is an impressive, articulate
speaker and a convincing witness;
but the purpose of these hearings is
to recover the shredded memories of
those who concocted the Iran-
Contra disaster, not to determine
North's patriotism.
Cries of "Olliemania" have
completely drowned the facts that
have emerged in his testimony.
Oliver North has confessed to
outright lying to the Congress, the
State Department, the CIA, the
Iranians, and to several of his
associates in this operation. He has
also accused the Congress - the
elected and legitimate body of the
American people - of being dis-
loyal, unpatriotic, irresponsible,
and has blatantly stated his plans
not to disclose a single word to
Congress." That general policy of
defiance has been endorsed by
Attorney General Edwin Meese III,
some sectors of the public and, im-
plicitly, President Reagan. It is a
position that simply cannot be
accepted if we are to remain a
democratic society.
Oliver North regards himself as a
law unto himself. Sectors of the
United States public seem to
endorse his actions based o n
identification with the man. They
are allowing his personality and
conviction to color their opinion on
the issue of funding the Contras. A
poll conducted by NBC indicates
that support for the Contras has
risen subsequent to North's
testimony. The formation of public
opinion in regard to important
issues as this should not be
influenced by television theatrics.
For eight years, the American
people have denounced aid to

criminals and thugs who call them-
selves the "Nicaraguan Freedom
Fighters." It is ridiculous for the
administration to justify diversion
of funds to the Contras by saying
that it was within the legal
constraints of the Boland
Amendment. It is not the job of the
administration to look for loop-
holes in laws passed by Congress.
Reagan described the Iranian
government as the "strangest
collection of misfits, looney tunes
and squalid criminals." Well, he
dealt with them. Reagan advocated
an arms embargo to Iran yet he
Sshipped arms to them. Reagan
condemned terrorism, "refusing to
deal with terrorists," and then paid
ransom for hostages. So, having
lied and contradicted himself so
many times, how can one believe
him when he denies knowledge of
diversion of profits to Contras -
his pet project?
Besides, William Casey,
Reagan's close friend and former
director of CIA knew it. Admiral
John Pointdexter, his NSC advisor
knew it, and so did his predecessor
Robert McFarlane. Even if Reagan
did not grant explicit aproval, he is
still culpable. If Reagan did not
know what was going on under his
nose, he then needs to be held
responsible for incompetence and
criminal negligence.
The hearings themselves need to
be significantly modified if
anything is to be achieved from
them. They have degenerated into a
circus between top lawyers who are
out to make an immense reputation
for themselves, in addition to
outrageous fees in the region of
$250 per hour. The Senators and
Representatives are having a field
day with the hearings since it
provides a forum to give free
speeches to large audiences.
If constructive policy changes
are to be arrived at, Congress must
restrict questioning of future
witnesses to the bare minimum and
eliminate unending speeches by
committee members. If this is done
properly, the hearings will
demonstrate why those who lie,
deceive, forge, and shred are not
national heroes.

THE UNIVERSITY RESIDENT
doctors have been negotiating for
new contracts for six months.
They are requesting a guaranteed
two days off per month and to serve
no more than one 36 hour shift
every third evening. Currently,
estimates on the number of hours
they work per week range from 84
to 120. Resident doctors are
physicians-in-training at the hos-
pitals. They work longer hours,
treat most of the patients at the
University Hospital and are paid
significantly less than other staff
members.
When contract talks began the
administration refused to discuss
hours as a negotiable item. The
residents argued that their mental
faculties are impaired when they
have not slept in over thirty hours
and that health care would improve
substantially if hours were not as
extensive. The administration re-
torted that they are unaware that
sleep deprivation has resulted in a
decline in the quality of patient
care. A decline in patient care is not
the issue.
Patient care is currently not as

good as it could be. Residents
cannot use their skills in the most
effective manner when they are
struggling against excessive fa-
tigue. The administration accused
the resident staff of using this issue
as "a bargaining tactic." A grand
jury investigation in New York
City proved that depriving resident
doctors of sleep has led to the death
of a patient in at least one instance.
Hospital administrators argued
that it is a long standing tradition
for residents to work long hours.
They consider the intense program
to be necessary in order to instill
discipline in young doctors. Disci-
pline and tradition are standing in
the way of optimal quality care. If
given the choice, patients would
prefer the latter.
Resident doctors could effec-
tively debilitate the hospital by
striking, but they have consistently
rejected this tactic. They do not
want to jeopardize health care for
the community. The administrators
are exploiting this concern in an
attempt to establish a dominant
position at the bargaining table.
The resident's demands are not

unreasonable. They ask only for
those things that will allow them
to utilize their training in the most
optimal way.
The issue of grueling hours is
not exclusive to the University
Hospital. It is a national problem.
The University could set precedent
for the rest of the country and prove
that they are committed to
improving health care. This method
of improving care would not cost
nearly as much as some of the other
measures the University imple-
mented.
It is standard University fare to 4
force its employees to desperate
measures before it will love on
contract negotiations. The Graduate
Employee Organization can attest
to a very similar response from the
University during contract nego-
tiations last spring. The University
dragged its feet until GEO called in
a state mediator. The resident
doctors have also been forced to call
for a state mediator. There is no end 4
in sight to the negotiations. Mean-
while resident doctors are struggling
to keep their eyes open while
simultaneously attempting to
diagnose emergency situations.

The king is dead

4

LOOKING FROM A distance can
sometimes provide one with a
clearer perspective. A foreigner
speaking in Detroit recently termed
the Iran-Contra affair "a military
coup." U.S. citizens are not used to
thinking of their country's politics
in terms of military coups, but
such analysis is, under present
conditions, appropriate. The official
story is that an Admiral and a Lt.
Colonel took over and directed a
vital sector of U.S. foreign policy.
From the defenses offered
subsequent to this coup, it seems
like the insurgents were attempting
to reestablish monarchy in the
United States. Apologists for
diversion of funds to the Contras,
notably Senator Henry Hyde and
Col. North himself, have attempted
to shift blame for the illegalities
onto the Congress. They claim that
Congress is at fault for passing the
Boland amendment in the first place
and "interfering" in foreign policy.
These monarchists contend that
foreign policy is the domain of the
executive branch, or president, and
that the Boland amendment, which
cut-off funds to the Contras, was an
unconstitutional infringement upon
such executive privilege.
Such an interpretation of the
Constitution is totally without

basis. The congressional branch has
always been invested with power
over foreign policy decisions,
including the ultimate foreign
policy decision - to declare war.
As any high school student can tell
you, the government of the United
States was designed to guard against
the domination of one branch over
the others, as was found in the
British monarchy. Accordingly, the
"Founding Fathers" divided the two
major sources of power, "the sword
and the purse strings," between the
executive and legislative branches.
The executive branch has the most
control over the military sword but
the Congress can refuse to let loose
the financial purse strings need to
fund foreign adventurism. Recent
public and clandestine maneuvering
has been an attempt by the sword to
cut the purse strings.
Those who wish to disassemble
the system of checks and balances,
even if their aims are undemocratic,

must pursue their goals within the
current democratic channels. If the
executive branch felt the Boland
amendment was an uncon~stutional
usurpation of power, it should have
challenged the law through the
courts. When the executive branch
felt the Gramm-Rudman bill was
unconstitutional, it unsuccessfully
challenged the legislation in such a 4
way.
Yet, the monarchists chose to
conspire and deceive, negating the
law's significance through admini-
strative fiat. Fanatically committed
to policies which lacked both
popular and constitutional support,
the monarchists resorted to a
"military coup" to achieve their
desired ends. In amisguided quest to
impose their distorted concept of 4
democracy on Nicaragua, the
monarchists subverted democracy in
the United States. Those who
cannot accept and function within
our democratic government should
resign from it.

Can you draw? Do you want to depict
political or cultural criticism? The Daily is
looking for people with cartoons, collages
and other graphic works. Call 747-2814.

4

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