The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, October 08, 1991, Page 4, Image 4

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Coneressional perks
Bad checks shed light on other abuses
If the U.S. House and Senate met in the University of Ne
braska-Lincoln Administration Building, UNL would have
a parking garage overnight.
The garage would have special, oversized stalls for limou
sines. And free gas pumps. No meters. No parking tickets.
Centennial Mall would become a private airfield. Private
shuttles would whisk members of Congress from the Admini
stration Building to the field so that the trip home to their
constituents would be quicker.
The Lee and Helene Sapp Recreation Facility would be
divided into the Lee Sapp Recreation Facility for the Senate
and the Helene Sapp Recreation Facility for the^House. Or,
perhaps an entirely new recreation center would be built to
accommodate both chambers’ needs.
Then again, there is a budget crisis. Members of Congress
might have to pass a bill before construction could begin.
Not to worry. There was little debate when they approved
legislation for a pay raise.
Congressional perks range from petty (cheap cigarettes) to
practical (checking out books from the Library of Congress) to
practically illegal (fixed parking tickets in Washington for
House mem
receive free
medical care,
drugs and the
services of a
Navy ambu
lance. They
collect lucrative
pensions, to
which taxpayers
contribute 50
cents for every
dollar a mem
ber pays.
Senators and
use separate,
private health
^ onlyZg ry
Robert Borzekofski/DN arcn t SUppOSCd
to be able to do
is write bad checks. But it took just that, a report that members
bounced more than 8,000 checks last year, to focus attention
and outrage on the myriad of benefits they receive merely for
being elected.
The checks were bounced at Congress members’ private
bank. Now, that bank will be shut down. Problem solved,
No. The bad checks have become a metaphor for Congress’
other failings. They provide fodder for the obvious rhetorical
question: If members of Congress can’t balance their check
books, how can they manage a budget?
Beyond the issues of bad form and hypocrisy, however, the
check-writing scandal and the focus on congressional perks
shed light on other abuses of the system.
Some of the perks help senators and representatives get re
elected. Members can mass-mail press releases to their con
stituents, free of charge. They can tape themselves in action
and broadcast the shows through television and radio stations
in their home states.
At a time when the movement to limit congressional terms
gains credibility and momentum, the least that could be enacted
is a ban on these name-recognition-boosting benefits, which all
but mark most voters’ ballots.
The worst offense that the bad checks display, however, is a
remarkable arrogance. The perks are both a cause and a symp
tom of that attitude.
Cats better equipped than
kids for survival outdoors
While I sympathize with Andy
Frederick’s concern for his neighbor
hood felines (“Little problems need
attention,” DN, Oct. 7), I find his
suggestion that cats remain indoors
ludicrous. A cat may be less intelli
gent than the average 3-year-old, but
no toddler with whom I am acquainted
is outfitted with four sets o? razor
sharp claws, jaws capable of reducing
small herbivores to hamburger, a fur
coat, the ability to land on all four feet
with little or no injury, night vision,
ultra-sonic hearing, a hunter’s instinct
and lightning-fast reflexes. Most cats
with whom 1 am acquainted, how
ever, are, and to suggest that the two
may even remotely be similarly ca
pable of prowling the borough for
squirrels at sundown seems prepos
Paul Souders
English and German
Weapons cuts pose problem
asi week, President Bush in
vited the Soviets to come in
from the cold. The Cold War,
that is.
Bush offered to release unilater
ally all U.S. strategic bombers and
part of the intercontinental ballistic
missile force from their 24-hour alert
responsibilities. He also nixed further
development of mobile versions of
the MX Peacekeeper and Midgetman
ICBMs. The eventual elimination of
all land-based multiple-warhead
missiles and ground-based tactical
nuclear weapons may have figured
strongly in Bush’s plan.
So docs a strong political agenda.
Bush has heard the theory that for
every action, there is an equal reac
tion. He is counting on it.
The president urged the Soviets to
“go down this road with us.” Bush’s
agenda prefigures a specific Soviet
response — first, the assertion of central
government control over all Soviet
tactical nuclear weapons and second,
the elimination of mobile ballistic
missiles capable of reaching the United
The last time there was a reduction
in nuclear arms for either country was
Aug. 29,1949 — the day the Soviets
exploded their first atomic bomb.
The stockpile has grown consid
erably since then.
Currently, the United States and
the Soviet Union share almost 23,000
strategic warheads — 12,081 for us,
10,841 for them.
Bush, Soviet President Mikhail
Gorbachev aid Russian President Boris
Yeltsin face a large task.
However, the biggest question is
not how or when either side is going
to ratify the already-signed START
treaty, which will mark the beginning
of arms reduction. The question is
much more important and difficult:
What are we going to do with all
those warheads?
Here are a couple of possibilities:
Some people suggest that inmates
on death row be given more responsi
bility. They could be given the right
to be locked into a bunker 50 feet
below the ground in a lot of concrete
dismantling the weapons and forging
fine jewelry from them for commer
cial use.
Some members of the opposition
to “living wills” could issue a state
ment concerning the warheads, advo
cating “one in every home. Make
little salt and pepper shakers out of
that’ll make 'em think twice
about thinking of death when they’re
still livin’... make ‘em like french
tries and eggs a whole lot less, too.”
Sun worshipers such as George
Hamilton could tout more construc
tive uses: “Beaches. Beaches made
real cheap with a lot of sun and no
lizards. Fences will keep the cock
roaches out. Talk about civil engi
neering. I never liked L.A. anyway.”
Limiting the explosion of nuclear
arms to special occasions such as
presidential inaugurations and the
Fourth of July promises to gain some
spare change for the government as
well as a light show bright enough to
enjoy from your home. Even if you
don’t have windows.
Nebraskans could still drive to
Missouri for fireworks — but sneak
ing the goods back across the border
would be a different problem from
what it once was.
Several motion picture companies
already have made serious inquiries
concerning the private purchase of
such fireworks, which would make
their special effects budgets much
In the meantime, storage of the
warheads doesn’t seem to be a prob
lem . In Nebraska alone there is plenty
of room.
Check out the faculty parking lots
any day of the week, at any time.
What about the Centrum?
There always seems to be a seat on
the Supreme Court that the Republi
cans are having problems filling. That
might be an option, too.
This game of arms control feels a
lot like playing hot potato. The United
States doesn’t want them. The Sovi
ets don’t want them.
Give them to someone who does.
Saddam Hussein wants them. Give
them to him. With 23,000 of the little
buggers floating around, we’ve got
more than enough to go around. The
Middle East could use a little
Stock is a senior English m^Jor, a Dally
Nebraskan A&E senior reporter and a col
Limiting the explo
sion of nuclear arms
to special occasions
such as presidential
inaugurations and
the. Fourth of Julv
promises to gain
some spare change
tor the government
as well as g light
slum bright enough
to eniov from vour
home. Even if you
don’t have windows.
aignea siaii eauoriais represent
the official policy of the Fall 1991
Daily Nebraskan. Policy is set by the
Daily Nebraskan Editorial Board. Its
members are: Jana Pedersen, editor;
Eric Pfanner, editorial page editor;
Diane Brayton, managing editor;
Walter Gholson, columnist; Paul
Domeier, copy desk chief; Brian
bhcllito, cartoonist; Jeremy Fitzpa
trick, senior reporter.
Editorials do not necessarily re
flect the views of the university, its
employees, the students or the NU
Board of Regents.
Editorial columns represent the
opinion of the author.
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