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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (March 12, 1975)
Stop with the buttons and start with a policy
I . . -i z m v
Public relations men are taking over Washington. And somehow
they are convincing every administration that economic problems
can't be solved without a gimmick.
Roosevelt had the New Deal, and it worked well until his
opponents said "big deal" and asked him to deal again. Nixon had
Phase l...and Phase 2. . .and Phase 3. ..and so on until the
program was finally phased out.
Not to be outdone, the Ford administration developed WIN
(Whip Inflation Now), a smooth little campaign that somehow got
perfectly sane people to wear red and white WIN buttons as if they
were some magic talisman that would ward off inflation. The
campaign died a quick death last weekend.
Presumably President Ford devised WIN for some other purpose
than keeping the campaign button industry going until the next
election. The concept was a kind of bandwagon approach to
economics: if we all get together and talk about how bad inflation .
is, how can it help but go away?
But WIN got off to a bad start immediately. Americans didn't
rush to the post office to place their orders for buttons, probably
because they realized that anything free is also worthless. If the
government had charged 25 cents and two boxtops, things might
have gone better. It's a wonder they didn't think of it.
If WIN proved anything, it proved that the American public
isn't as gullible as Washington thinks. Local and individual
volunteer efforts to fight inflation are idealistic. Realistically, the
final solution must be achieved in Washington.
Perhaps now that WIN has lost, the administration can stop
designing buttons and start designing a viable economic policy.
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Civil disobedience draft resister's moral duty
As the amnesty program for Vietnam era draft
resisters comes to its ambiguous end, it might be
worthwhile to take a final look at this bitterly
contested issue before it fades into historical
An amnesty program is a wonderful thing if the
society who has considered an individual a social
criminal, removes that label and admits that the
resister's position was correct. The world would
doubtless be more sane and peaceful if societies
recognized their .mistakes and injustices, were willing
to admit them and, indeed, reward those who sensed
the wrong early.
But, alas, there is no such movement afoot. The
justification for President Ford's limited amnesty
program was not in recognizing an American mistake,
nor in allowing those who had assessed the situation
correctly to return as redeemed hcros.
No indication that America may have been wrong
appears as a justification of the program, rather
amnesty is regarded as a tool to relieve personal and
family hardships and to heal the nation's wounds.
Clearly the amnesty program is not a reward for
having been morally right.
I would not argue that one who views a law as
unjust should allow himself to play a part in
perpetuating the injustice of that law by following its
dictates. Neither do I think that those disagreeing
with a portion of law (such as a draft law) should
allow themselves to be imprisoned, simply because a
society cannot exist without law and thus all
laws-both just and unjust-must be honored in order
for a social order to be maintained.
But allowing oneself to be imprisoned as an act of
civil disobedience is more fruitful than leaving the
country and thus allow things to remain the same.
Civil disobedience has been a means of defying
injustice in the State since ancient times. Socrates in
drinking the hemlock, Antigone in sprinkling dust on
the body of her brother, Christ in carrying the cross.
Thoreau in refusing to pay his poll tax, and Gandhi in
advocating mass violation of offensive laws each was
committing an act of civil disobiediencc.
It is not only necessary to feel that a law is unjust,
but also to make a positive committment against it.
Feebly expressing one's desire that justice should
prevail does little tangible in its favor. One who feels
strongly enough about the injustice of a law to
disobey it should also be prepared to do the utmost
to change it.
rhymes and reasons
I find it somewhat difficult to sympathize with
those who left the country as a result of a moral
conviction that the Vietnamese war was unjust.
Leaving the country to avoid prosecution for
disobedience is admitting the authority of the
government to control its citizen's thoughts and
consciences. By remaining within a society and not
changing one's views even in the face of punishment,
one is proving that conscience is superior to brute
pwoer. To leave while one disapproves of the laws or
measures of a government is in a sense yielding
allegience and support to those measures and laws.
All men serve their society with either their minds
or their bodies, few men serve with their consciences.
These latter serve as what Socrates called "a sort of
gadfly which all day long and in all places is always
fastening upon you, arousing and persuading the
Thoreau comments that, "if injustice is part of the
necessary friction of the machine of
government. . .and it is of such a nature that it
requires you to be the agent of injustice to another,
then, I say break the law. Let your life be a counter
friction to stop the machine".
This is the case of those who saw injustice in the
Vietnam was and are now in Canada or Sweden. Even
though injustice was a "part of the necessary friction
of the machine of government" during the Vietnam
war, they recognized that fact, they offered no
counter friction the machine in fact ran even more
efficiently without them.
The estimates of the number of draft resisters and
deserters from the Vietnam era run anywhere from
15,000 to 50,000 persons. Had there been this many
persons either imprisoned or with pending legal
action it is unlikely the war would have lasted as long
as it did.
Those who left the country can claim no moral
victory. They did little to remedy the evil of an
unjust war. They recognized the evil, but that is only
half the battle.
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Wednesday, february 12, 1975
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