The staggering dimensions of the
national debt have been dramatized
effectively in a mailing piece out of
the National Taxpayers Union, a
bipartisan organization based in
The net is that U.S. taxpayers "are
now on the hook for $9 trillion —
almost $113,000 for each and every
Of course, says the National Taxpayers Union, that's not all. "Much
of your money is being wasted."
Then follow detailed charges, not
particularly new but shocking when
brought together as follows;
• $3 billion stolen annually from
health programs — yet the federal
government has fewer people investigating than it has manicuring the
White House lawn.
• $250 billion for foreign aid,
including $10 million to Uganda's
mad former dictator, Idi Amin, and
money for the U.S. to finance both sides
in 14 wars during the last 20 years
• Billions wasted annually on
900,000 "totally Ineligible" welfare
• $200 million annually to perform
useless research and shower favored
professors with grants. There are 24
biographies of Isaac Newton in the
Library of Congress, yet the federal
government wants to spend $10,000
for another one.
What to do? The Union is working
for constitutional amendments to (1)
"prohibit government from taking
more than 25 percent of your
income" and (2) balance the
Nothing very new, but the national
mood today — amid today's problems — may be as favorable to some
positive action as it's ever likely to
be. Thirty states have approved the
balance-the-budget amendment proposal and, the N.T.U. reports, "more
than 180 members of Congress have
joined in sponsoring our proposals."
Judge Prefers Light
It was inevitable that at least some
judges would themselves see the
negative public relations in what
Chief Judge Lawrence Cooke of New
York State's highest court has
termed "the trend of pulling the
shades on the courtroom windows."
He made it clear in an interview
that he was not commenting directly
on the recent U.S. Supreme Court
decision permitting judges to close
pre-trial proceedings. Still, intended
or not, his comment fits.
Cooke believes there are exceptions — "certain things the public
shouldn't be allowed in to see, sex
cases or private family matters
But, hitting on an angle rarely
noted by judges, Cooke said "courts
have a lot to gain by opening their
doors. There have been so many
derogatory things written about the
courts and judges."
Which recalls the creed of E. W. Scripps; "Give light and the people
will find their own way."
In any case, Cooke's low-key discussion — amid media response to
the Supreme Court decision that
some readers criticized as over-kill
— should be welcome all around.
Panama Controls Press
Panama, which put its best foot
forward in many respects during the
Canal negotiations, has now given
the communications world a bit of a;
shock by licensing journalists.
Licensing journalists is a form of
state press control. A "World Press
Freedom Committee" was formed
only a couple of years ago to oppose
even the appearance of government
press control anywhere. Other organizations also fight this dangerous
Now under a law passed last
October, a journalist must carry an
official card to work in Panama. The
Panamanian newspaper LaRepublica
reports that "certificates and identification cards" have been presented to 298 journalists approved by the
"Technical Junta on Journalism"
from among 595 applicants.
As for broadcasters, a station's
license may be suspended when and
if commentators give "false or
slanted news or obscenities."
Wherever such licensing is
imposed, it takes no great imagination to anticipate what will happen to
card holders who report truthfuliy on
dissent and disagreement and not
just government official statements.
Miller is former chairman of the
board of directors of Gannett Co
Member of the Gannett Group
Frank Gannett, Founder
Stuart A. Dunham, Editorial Chairman
Read Kingsbury, Editor of the Editorial Page
Maurice L Hickey, Publisher
Robert H. Giles, Executive Editor
Nancy J. Woodhull, Managing Editor
Published daily except Sundays and holidays by Gannett Co., Inc., 55 Exchange St.,
Rochester, N.Y. 14614. Allen K. Neuharth.
chairman and president.
Member of The Associated Press
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