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8The Daily Tar Heel Monday, August 25, 1986
94 th year of editorial freedom
Randy Farmer, Managing Editor
ED BRACKETT, Associate Editor
DEWEY MESSER, Associate Editor
Tracy Hill, Neus Editor
GRANT PARSONS, University Editor
LINDA MONTANARI, City Editor
JILL GERBER, State and National Editor
Scott Fowler, sports Editor
DENISE SMITHERMAN, Features Editor
ROBERT KEEFE, Business Editor
Elizabeth Ellen, Am Editor
DAN CHARLSON, Photography Editor
IF p LHD Fouom
Two developments last week are
good news for those who believe
ev eryone's entitled to their share of the
economic pie but bad news for those
whose main concern is making money
For one, the congressional Joint
Economic Committee released data
showing America's wealth isn't as
concentrated at the top as previously
believed. The committee found that
the top one-half of one percent of U.S.
population held 26.9 percent of the
nation's wealth in 1983. That's up from
25 percent 20 years before, but
considerably lower than the 35 percent
figure incorrectly reported last month.
The other, significant item of good
news was the tax bill hammered out
by a House-Senate conference com
mittee, which appears an able tool to
keep national wealth in the hands of
the many, not the few.
The bill (which analysts believe will
easily win congressional and presiden
tial approval) represents tax reform
and tax simplification at once two
ingredients so desperately needed in
the tax code. Two rates of taxation
would be used under the legislation,
not 14 as before. Six million people,
ideally those below or just above the
poverty level, would be dropped off
the tax rolls. Loopholes would be
And no, the overhaul will not cause
or, more precisely, is not intended
to cause government revenue to
decrease. The bill was crafted to be
"revenue neutral," meaning that tax
burden wouldn't be lessened just
shifted from one class to another.
Unfortunately, "revenue neutral"
also means that lawmakers aren't
seeking to raise money during a time
of record deficit. But how could one
expect otherwise, given the current
Democrats have long argued for
higher taxes to fend off the monstrous
debt, while stressing an equitable tax
structure. Meanwhile, Republicans
Ronald Reagan, especially have
opposed any tax increases since before
the president's re-election. The bill,
which raises taxes for some (upper
middle and upper class individuals)
and lowers them for others (those with
low incomes), is a compromise of those
two views, a compromise that regret
tably neglects the deficit.
However, it scores points in the
equitability category by shifting, over
a five-year period, $121.7 billion of the
tax burden from individuals to cor
porations many of which, through
various loopholes, have avoided
paying their fair share of taxes. In fact,
the bill incorporates well-designed (but
not oppressive) checks on America's
One provision would tax long-term
capital gains on assets held six months
or longer a second home, for
example as ordinary income. Only
40 percent of such gains are currently
Another provision involves individ
ual retirement accounts (IRAs). Single
taxpayers earning more than $25,000
could no longer deduct earnings from
individual retirement accounts, pro
vided the taxpayer is covered by
another retirement plan. Although
some members of the middle class
might be unjustly affected by the IRA
plan, it largely takes from those whose
income is high enough to stave off
financial worries upon retirement. It's
all a part of the bill's overall fairness.
It's ironic that those "hurt" most by
the bill are the ones who can best
afford the lobbying efforts such
monumental legislation typically
requires. If only all legislation could
be crafted without such interference.
An apple for a better teacher
Nearly 30 years ago, the Soviet
launching of Sputnik startled the
United States into a more concerted
emphasis on education. Combating
increased foreign competition with a
public school system that has come
under fire, the United States needs
another push for stronger public
At the National Governors Associ
ation conference in Hilton Head, S.C.,
this weekend, a report titled "Time for
Results" was released. If state govern
ments adopt the report's recommenda
tions, American public education
and this nation as a whole will enjoy
a much more prosperous future.
The 171-page report offered several
reform proposals, including the estab
lishment of national standards for
teachers, the year-round use of school
facilities and more influence from
parents on where their children attend
school. But the most revolutionary idea
urges states to take over school districts
that do not meet minimum standards
to ensure the quality of education.
It is no great surprise that such a
sweeping list of exciting educational
reforms would come from the leaders
most willing to take chances in edu
cation. Governors from states like
Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas (one
Republican, two Democrats) stuck
their political necks on the line with
such controversial educational reforms
as teacher competency tests and Texas'
"no-pass, no-play" rule for students.
Despite vociferous balking from
teachers, the programs have survived.
The governors offered suggestions
that can only better public education.
It is time for the schools to act on them.
The Daily Tar Heel
Editorial Writer: Kathy Nanney
Editorial Assistant: Nicki Weisensee
Omnibus Editor: Sallie Krawcheck
Assistant Managing Editors: Jennifer Cox, Amy Hamilton, Donna Lei n wand and Jean Lutes.
News: Lisa Allen, Andrea Beam, Rick Beasley, Helene Cooper, Michelle Efird, Jennifer Essen, Jeannie
Faris, Scott Greig, Mike Gunzenhauser, Maria Haren, Nancy Harrington, Suzanne Jeffries, Teresa
Kriegsman, Laura Lance, Scott Larsen, Alicia Lassiter, Donna Leinwand, Mitra Lotfi, Jackie Leach,
Brian Long, Guy Lucas, Karen McManis, Laurie Martin, Toby Moore, Kathy Nanney, Felisa Neuringer,
Rachel Orr, Gordon Rankin, Liz Saylor, Valerie Stegall, Rachel Stiffler, Efisa Turner, Laurie Willis
and Bruce Wood. Jo Fleischer and Jean Lutes, assistant university editors. Kelly Hobson and Eric
Whittington, wire editors.
Sports: Mike Berardino, James Surowiecki and Bob Young, assistant sports editors. Bonnie Bishop,
Greg Cook, Phyllis Fair, Paris Goodnight, Laura Grimmer, Louise Hines, Greg Humphreys, Eddy
Landreth, Mike Mackay, Kathy Mulvey, Jill Shaw and Wendy Stringfellow.
Features: Eleni Chamis, Jeanie Mamo, Kathy Peters, Katie White and Susan Wood.
Arts: James Burrus, Alexandra Mann and Rob Sherman.
Photography: Charlotte Cannon, Larry Childress, Jamie Cobb, Tony Deifell and Janet Jarman.
Copy Editors: Karen Anderson, assistant news editor. Dorothy Batts, Beverly Imes, Gerta Gallop, Lisa
Lorentz, Sherri Murray and Sally Pearsall. " ;
Editorial Cartoonists: Adam Cohen, Bill Cokas and Trip Park.
Business and Advertising: Anne Fulcher, general manager; Patricia Benson, advertising director; Mary
Pearse, advertising coordinator, Angela Ostwalt; student business manager; Eve Davis, student advertising
manager, Ruth Anderson, Jennifer Garden, Kelli McElhaney, Christy Mennitt, Beth Merrill, Anne
Raymer, Julie Settle, Peggy Smith, Kent Sutton and Ashley Waters, advertising representatives; Mendell
Rosenberg, office manager and Mary Brown, secretary.
Distributioncirculation: William Austin, manager.
Production: Brenda Moore and Stacy Wynn. Rita Galloway, production assistant.
Printing: The Chapel Hill Newspaper
Ma. imassacire: Lesson off a lifetime
Surprisingly, it was quiet except for the
moans and groans. Roger Nelson, witness
t is difficult, perhaps impossible, for us
to imagine what Roger Nelson saw last
JLL Wednesday morning. He was at work
in the Edmond, Okla., post office when Pat
Sherrill, a fellow postal employee, came in
with a bagful of ammunition, two .45-caliber
automatic handguns and a .22-caliber
handgun, and before he had finished,
murdered 14 people, wounded six others and
killed himself. .
In the field of human experience, such
an incident is indeed among the foulest and
most distressing, and, worst of all, leaves
us no answers, only questions. The principal,
and natural, one to ask is "Why?" What
becomes so unbearable in someone's life that
the methodical murder of others is the only
outlet of expression?
The answer is not an easy one, and most
certainly is as disturbing and subtle as
Sherrill's mind was to perpetrate such an
act. The police speculate that Sherrill's
problems at work and the possibility of being
fired from his part-time job were contribut
ing factors to his deadly rampage.
But. to an extent, such speculation is
worthless. After all, Sherrill had senselessly
murdered his fellow employees, which took
away family members and friends, as well
as violated the highest code of human
conduct the sanctity of life. He shook
the foundation of what we as civilization
consider to be civility, and left us with no
means of recourse. All that remained was
another scar of human tragedy.
But what is most disturbing about Sherrill
is that he is not alone, as The Associated
Press reminded us last week. The news
organization came out with a list of the seven
other worst one-day massacres. Here's part
of that list:
B July 18, 1984: Twenty persons were
fatally shot in a McDonald's restaurant in
San Ysidro, Calif., by James Oliver Huberty,
who was killed by a police sharpshooter.
B Sept. 25, 1982: Thirteen persons,
including five children, were killed in Wilkes
Barre and Jenkins Township, Pa. George
Banks, 43, was convicted of 12 counts of
murder and sentenced to death.
B March 30, 1975: Eleven persons,
including eight children, were killed at an
Easter gathering in Hamilton, Ohio. A
relative, James Ruppert, was convicted of
two killings and found not guilty by reason
of insanity in nine others.
B Aug. 1, 1966: Sixteen persons were
killed in Austin, Texas, by Charles Whit
man; most were hit by sniper fire after he
climbed to the top of a campus tower at
the University of Texas. Whitman was killed
The names listed are mind-boggling, and
those are just a few. And although it wasn't
a massacre, last August the effect of the
kidnapping and murder story of Sharon
Stewart on the sleepy college town of Chapel
Hill was the similar to the Okla. incident:
It's depressing and frightening stuff, all
of it. It's humans at their worst. And it's
not particularly pleasant reading or writing
material either, but one that deserves
contemplation because it shows us our
potential for evil. We never know, I think,
what to do about those times when our
darker side does come out. But somehow
we hold on tightly, perhaps naively, to the
belief that for the rest of us our altruistic
qualities will overcome such destructive
On the subject of life and death, Norman
Cousins, an American editor and essayist,
said something worth noting: "Death is not
the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss
is what dies inside us while we live." Last
Wednesday, Roger Nelson wasn't the only
one to witness that. We all did.
Randy Farmer is a senior history major
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A bestiary off nairiiiiecessary things
ometimes it seems that people are just
.getting too smart for their own good.
Scientists, engineers, artists and
designers come up with thousands of new
things for consumers every year, and for the
most part, the inventions are brilliant and
useful. But still, there are always a few fads
that somehow catch on that the human race
would really be better off without.
For example, there's all those futuristic
heavy-metal cartoons and all the Fisher
Price toys that go along with them. Those
shows are a real menace to the mentality
of children everywhere. 1 suppose Gene
Roddenberry started all this, but Voltron
is a far cry from Mr. Spock.
Another thing that's corrupting our youth
is those "fun" cereals that have sprouted up
in the past few years. Let's see, there's Pac
Man, Donkey Kong, Ghostbusters and
Smurfs cereals. I'm sure there are scores
more, but you get the idea. Anyone starting
the day off in this manner deserves whatever
ill fortune befalls him.
And did you ever have to use one ot those
new-fangled water faucets? The ones that
require you to push down and then move
really quick? I suppose they save water when
they're new, but sooner or later, the spring
wears out and they don't work anymore.
: Then you have to wash one hand at a time,
, which is no mean feat when soap is involved.
Has the state of human affairs really been
improved by these things?
In the world of transportation, there's
those fancy third brake lights you see in rear
windows these days. Supposedly, they were
created to enable drivers to see a car vay
ahead of him hitting the brakes. But alas,
all cars aren't the same height, so they're
a useless eyesore most of the time and a
helpful eyesore only part of the time.
Then there's those yellow, diamond
shaped signs everyone hangs in their car
windows. You know, the ones with all those
incredibly witty sayings. Actually, they're a
traffic hazard: you're so busy trying to read
the sign in the car your're passing that you
don't notice the car in front of you stopping
suddenly. I'm still looking for a sign for my
car that reads, "Why don't you watch where
Speaking of witty sayings, the human
animal could function very well indeed
without those bumper stickers and signs that
say, "Life, Be In It." It just seems that if
you are able to read these things, then you
must be alive and "in life." What's the point
of encouraging everyone to be alive if they're
already alive? Maybe the signs are to
discourage death. Or maybe they're to
encourage reading ...
Then's there's everyone's favorite, those
dreaded, embarrassing TV commercials for
products that promise to pacify, rectify and
mollify jock itch, indigestion, cold sores,
constipation and various feminine discom
forts. Scientists are now working on a theory
that these commercials are a main cause of
dysentery, intestinal flu, 'blocked sinus
passages, marital distress, warts and ingrown
toenails. The ads are a definite turn-off when
you're kicking back in front of the tube with
your main squeeze. Or with a peanut butter
and banana sandwich. Or both.
Along a similar vein of tackiness, there
are the supermarket tabloids. 1 noticed the
other day that Bill Cosby and Mikhail
Gorbachev are related. It's true. But that's
obvious, whether you believe in creationism,
evolution or divine causality. It's no wonder
the writers for these scandal rags are paid
so well they have to be fairly creative
to be so stupid.
New Coke has to be the biggest menace
to the sanity and patience of consumers to
date. After a while, diners were asked to
choose between New Coke and Classic
Coke. When Confronted with this idiotic
query, I usually say, "Duh . . . make it a
Pepsi." You see, consumers have to find a
way to express their disgust with such
Black Reeboks may be fashionable, but
they have to be the most hideous and sorriest
excuse for foot apparel mankind has yet
devised. There's only one good thing to say
about them: someday, people will move on
to other ugly fashions.
And last, and certainly the most disgusting
fad, is Joan Rivers. Self-explanatory.
So, there you have it. There are things
people like and dislike, and everyone has
their own list. So don't feel bad if IVe stepped
on your black Reeboks. Hey, it could
happen to anyone.
Dewey Messer. a senior journalism major
from Whit tier, also hates the jingle. "Dewey,
you do me right . . . ." '