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PAGE 4 -A, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 1994
Nothing Would Work
Without Those Workers
There's more to be celebrated on Labor Day weekend than
the last blast of summer and the coming of beautiful autumn in
the South Brunswick Islands.
It's time to celebrate working folks ? not the ones who bank
the profits of summer's boom (their investment is its own re
ward) but the ones who work for them.
Even Labor Day is a busy workday for those who bag gro
ceries, flip burgers, pump gas, bus tables, harvest crops, clean
cottages, haul garbage, wait tables, rent out videotapes, and keep
the peace. They're the front line workers who take our abuse
when we don't like their bosses' policies or when the equipment
malfunctions. They're the ones who often work combinations of
low-paying jobs to make the rent or pay tuition. They're the ones
who show up even when they're sick, the ones who stay as long
as it takes to get the job done. Many will start counting the days
this Labor Day until they're laid off for the season.
It's a good time also to celebrate those with a second, unpaid
work day that begins when they clock out and go home to the
Second Shift ? the remainder of the day that must be devoted to
cooking and iaundering, bathing, tutoring and counseling, and all
the other family maintenance chores we now compress into a
fraction of the time it would take to do the job the right way.
Experts say the American workday is getting longer and va
cations, fewer and shorter. For most of us, the eight-hour work
day is long gone, if it ever existed in the first place. And vaca
tions? Maybe next year.
The Knights of Labor gave us Labor Day in 1882, and the
U.S. Congress made it official in 1894. Nonetheless, many of us
will spend Labor Day laboring, because that's what it takes to
keep our little corner of the world turning.
The poet Walt Whitman wrote much about workers and
working. This is from Leaves of Grass:
This is the carol of occupations;
In the labor of engines and trades, and the labor of fields,
I find the developments,
And eternal meanings.
For workers on the front lines, the job often feels eternal and
meaning seems scarce. But on Labor Day especially, they should
take pride in the knowledge that nothing else would work with
ml am the people ? the mob ? the crowd? the mass.
Do you know that all the great work of the world is done
through me? ? Carl Sandburg
ml have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat
mThe only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this notion
rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for re
al work, and that writing didn t require any.
? Russell Baker
mScrs laborers have hard hands and old sinners have brawny
? Anne Bradstreet
Did You Feel Any
Tremors On Aug. 6 ?
Where were you Saturday, Aug. 6, and what, if anything, did you
feel at about 3:54 p.m.?
That's what Christine Powell wants to know. As I've mentioned be
fore Powell is the state's leading
earthquake expert and a geology
professor at the University of
North Carolina. She directs the
Central N.C. Seismic Network, a
series of sensitive machines that
show earth movement across the
state. None of the machines are
located in eastern N.C. because
there has been so little seismic ac
On that Saturday, however, the day Assistant Superintendent of
Brunswick County Schools Jan Calhoun was married somewhere back
east, an earthquake of modest proportions ? a 3.6 on the Richter scale ?
occurred somewhere in eastern North Carolina, though probably not in
southeastern North Carolina. It was an unusual event but did no dam
age. It did apparently scare some people.
If it was noticeable in Brunswick County, I missed it ? or attributed
it to excavation-related explosives, the mysterious "Seneca guns" or a
sonic boom. What about you?
Because the temblor occurred on a Saturday and some electronic
line were not working at the National Earthquake Information Center in
Golden, Colo., Powell couldn't confirm the quake until Aug. 8.
"At first the center said a sonic boom caused the noise and vibra
tions people felt," she said. "We were almost certain they were wrong."
Poweli wants to hear from people in Onslow, Pamlico, Pitt,
Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, jones and other eastern counties (including
Brunswick) to find if they did or did not feel the quake. If so, what did it
sound like? Did dishes rattle and chandeliers sway? How strong were
the vibrations? Was there damage?
"It is just as important for us to hear from people who felt nothing at
3:54 p.m. two weeks ago Saturday because that'll tell us where the
quake did not occur," says Powell.
So, if you want to contribute to not only knowledge of the earth
quake, but of the geology of the state as well, you can fill out Powell's
detailed questionnaire. Send for it by contacting Powell, by way of the
Geology Department, Campus Box 3315, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27599
Do Health Reform Right The First Time
BY JOANNA L. SHAKER, R.N.
We've all heard the adage. "Why
is it there is always ?ime to do some
thing over but never enough time to
do it right in the first place?"
Public opinion poils suggest that
most Americans favor "reform" of
the health care system. But "reform"
means many different things to dif
ferent people. Never mind. Congress
is rushing to pass a health care re
form bill without any national con
sensus on what "reform" really
How did we get into a situation
where groups of lawmakers are
proposing brand new health reform
bills every few days ? bills that have
never had a public hearing of any
kind? It might help to look at an in
stant replay of the last 32 months.
Let's go to the videotape.
In 1991, Sen. Harris Wofford (D
Penn.) takes polls in his state that
show people are worried about los
ing their jobs. Moreover, the polls
show what worries people most
about losing a job is the loss of
health care benefits that go with the
Wofford campaigns for a spccial
1991 election on a theme of "doing
something" to protect people from
the loss of health insurance benefits
after losing or changing jobs. Wof
ford, whose campaign is managed
by Clinton ally James Carville, wins
his race against former Republican
Governor Dick Thornburg and polit
ical pundits everywhere discover the
health care issue.
Carville brings the Wofford cam
paign experience to bear in design
ing Bill Clinton's campaign for pres
ident in 1992. In 1993, the Clinton
administration decides it will do
something to "address" health care
"reform," but without setting any
priorities as to what "reform" should
Some in the administration think
that reform should emphasize the
"containment" of rising health care
costs. Others look to the Wofford
election and try to emphasize
"portability" of insurance from one
job to another and between jobs.
Still others, including First l^dy
Hillary Rodham Clinton, say that
"universal coverage" should be the
major goal of reform, without being
able to define what that term means.
What eventually emerges from
the secretive Clinton Health Care
Task Force is a Rube Goldberg con
traption which not only attempts to
reconcile mutually exclusive policy
goals, but creates a new government
bureaucracy that resembles a Great
Society piogram gone Supernova.
Meanwhile, out on the fringes of
the health care debate, first cousins
to the Clinton policy wonks are
cooking up comical schemes like
"single payer" systems modeled af
ter the so-called success of systems
in Canada or Germany.
Why, one might well ask, would a
country with 250 million citizens
want to emulate the systems of
countries with less than one-third
(Germany) or less than one-tenth
(Canada) its population which have
resulted in rationing of health care
During 1994. no fewer than five
committees of the House and Senate
begin work on health reform bills.
While one House committee gives
up without reporting a bill to the
floor, four others report out some
thing. President Clinton, with vari
ous degrees of enthusiasm, endorses
elements of all four and none of
them can pass. Democrats therefore
try to compromise among them
selves and two leadership bills
emerge which Clinton also endorses
and which also cannot pass
Finally, in August of 1994. no
madic bipartisan tribes of lawmakers
begin casting about tor tne "middle
ground" and "compromise solu
tions" to the health care "crisis."
All of this frenetic activity was
best summed up by humorist Dave
Barry when he visited Washington
this summer. Barry said he learned
two things, hirst, that America has
the best health care system in the
world. And second, by golly, we
should do something about that.
Common sense tells us that haste
makes was<c. Congress attempted to
overhaul one-seventh of our econo
my after only a few months of delib
erations without a national consen
sus on what the goal of reform
should be. It should not surprise
anyone that Congress is having a
difficult time passing a bill. The
process should be difficult and it
should take some time.
The country will lose very little if
a reform bill is passed in 1995, after
a truly open debate and thorough
discussion with the American peo
ple We used to call such a process
"deliberation."' But one truth is clear,
we may lose a great deal if a bad bill
passes now and we have years to re
gret the mistakes of 1994.
Joanna I. Shaker is chief executive
officer of the American Council for
Health Care Reform.
A Fight Against Crime, Or Class Warfare?
A gun is a tool; no better or worse
than the person who uses it.
? Alan Ladd
in the movie "Shane"
As the haze of battle slowly lifts
from Congressional debate over the
so-called crime bill, it seems like a
good time to separate the "gun
smoke" from the "smoke screen."
For weeks, supporters of the bill
(mostly Democrats) represented
themselves as get-tcugh crime fight
ers struggling an against an evil
GUN LOBBY, which they portrayed
as a self-serving cartel of arms man
ufacturers with the awesome power
to snuff out the re-election hopes of
anyone in its path.
Opponents (mostly Republican)
tried their best to avoid the bill's
gun-ban provision and pointed to the
billions of dollars in hidden social
spending (headed mostly to Dem
ocrat districts) as their major reason
for fighting the bill.
But every now and then, someone
had the courage to stand up and sug
gest another reason for opposing the
bill: Because it seeks to make out
laws out of millions of otherwise
law-abiding Americans solely be
cause a lot of frightened, small
minded people don't don't under
Adopting the socalltd "assault
weapons ban" had absolutely noth
ing to do with disarming criminals.
The facts are indisputable that a lot
more violent assaults are committed
with knives and clubs and bottles
and rocks and fists than with any of
the outlawed firearms.
No, this was a classic case of fear
and ignorance prevailing over rea
son and responsibility. Bccausc the
battle over guns isn't about fighting
crime. It's about class warfare.
On one side you have millions of
every-day citizens who actually
make up the fearsome GUN 'X)B
BY. Most grew up around firearms.
Their parents taught them how to
handle guns safely, how to clean and
care for them, how to aim only at a
target you intend to shoot and to be
sure of your backstop.
Significantly, the majority of gun
owners also happen to be working
class folks who tend to live in more
rural areas and who generally have
more faith in themselves and their
neighbors than they do in govern
On the other side you have a lot
of college-educated people who
spent their entire lives in cities or
suburbs. They trust in government,
especially the police, to serve and
protect them. They see guns only as
"killing machines" and understand
no reason in the world why a private
citizen should be allowed to own
All my life, I've walked a fine
line between these two groups. I
learned to shoot at about the time I
entered school. I used to go hunting
and target shooting with my dad. I
eagerly absorbed all the information
I could about the guns in his collec
tion. Eventually, I bccame a compet
Then I went off to a big northeast
ern university with a lot of people
v.'hc didn't liovc much to do with
guns. After graduating. I entered a
profession where it is profoundly
believed that the pen is mightier
than the gun and that "we" arc much
smarter than "them."
So I have seen first-hand the irra
tional fear and self-righteousness ac
rimony that results from an igno
rance of firearms. I've watched
faces turn pale and hands shake ner
vously when friends discover that I
actually own a couple of pistols and
meekly ask to examine one, obvi
ously for the first time.
I suspect it is people like that who
form the majority of the anti-gun
movement. They find it impossible
to accept the fact that non-violent,
rational, well-educated professionals
just like themselves can also be pari
of THE GUN LOBBY.
They want to continue believing
that only two kinds of people could
possibly want to own guns: violent
criminals (who must be treated with
understanding because they are eco
nomically deprived) and crude, ill
mannered country folk (who should
be disarmed before they do some
thing stupid and hurt somebody).
A shining example of this liberal
elitism appeared on Page 1 of Sun
day's Wilmington Star-News Life
style section. There, a full-color
9xl4-inch staff illustration (the
largest image in the paper), shows
the disdain most editors have for
those who choose to exercise their
Constitutional right "to keep and
The shopping-mall style carica
ture depicts an unshaven young man
wearing a military shirt, torn blue
jeans and heavy work boots. (One of
~ satiiag r.is
thumb and clutching an "assault
weapon" as if it were a baby blan
ket The gun's banel is smoking.
He is sitting in a pool of blood
streaming from the dead bodies of a
man. a woman and a child lying be
hind him on the floor Pinned to his
chest are two buttons? a yellow
"smiley" face and a ted badge bear
ing the letters NRA (National Rifle
Association ? -get it?).
Since the illustration has no logi
cal connection with the accompany
ing story, it appears the Star-News
commissioned it to suggest that
those unsophisticated, childish,
working-class boobs who make up
THE GUN LOBBY are responsible
for the murders of women and chil
With that attitude, is it any sur
prise that the mainstream media
made a concerted effort to hammer
home the falsehood that the crime
bill "would only ban 19 types of as
sault weapons," knowing full well
that several hundred types of guns
and millions of "those people"
would be affected?
Ironically the giant editorial car
toon appeared with an article titled
"Don't Blame Me!" that examines
the disturbing frequency with which
Americans are willing to accept ex
cuses for committing hideous
crimes: "Mob frenzy" in the at
tempted killing of Reginald Denny.
"Marital rape ' in the Lorena Bobbin
mutilation case. "Child sexual
abuse" in the Menendez murders.
It's a shame the writer failed to
identify the most pervasive example
of blame-shifting, which was right
under her nose: blaming weapons
for crime while making excuses for
the criminals who wield them.