The Battalion. (College Station, Tex.) 1893-current, March 03, 1992, Image 9

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Tuesday, March 3, 1992
The Battalion
Page 9
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The Battalion Editorial Board
DOUGLAS PIUS, Editor-in-Chief
BRIDGET HARROW, Managing Editor
BRIAN BONEY, Opinion Editor
JASON MORRIS, Night News Editor
MORGAN JUDAY, Night News Editor
SCOTT WUDEL, Sports Editor
ROB NEWBERRY, Lifestyles Editor
The following opinions are a consensus of The Battalion opinion staff and senior editors.
Even competition
Later drinking hours mean fair trade
The subject of alcoholic beverages
continues to stir up controversy on
college campuses and in communities.
Last Tuesday, the Bryan City Council
provoked a local debate when it
approved a plan to extend city
drinking hours to 1 a.m. The plan will
become a city ordinance if it passes
another majority vote on the second
reading, scheduled in early March.
The proposal, which
would allow nightclubs
and bars to serve
alcohol at the same
hours as businesses in
College Station, was
supported by a 5-2
majority in last week's
The communities of
Bryan and College
Station need to consider
all aspects of this proposal when
deciding on its fate. Since these cities
often act as a 'joint community' on
many issues, the businesses in the city
of Bryan should have the same rights
as those in College Station. It is not fair
that Bryan's club and bar owners must
stop their alcohol sales at midnight
while their nearby competitors can
operate an hour longer. Businesses
should not be penalized simply
because of their location.
Some citizens in the area expressed
concern that the longer drinking hours
would have negative effects on public
safety. Some questioned whether we
really wanted to dump 40,000 drunks
onto Bryan streets each year. Although
it is attracting much attention, their
fear is not based on fact. Extending the
drinking hours will not
cause 40,000 more
drunks to be on Bryan's
streets. In fact, the
proposal would actually
decrease the number of
people rushing through
the streets to get in on
the extra drinking hour
College Station offers.
When customers of
Bryan bars want to
drink after midnight, they have to
drive all the way to College Station for
the extra hour of business. Many of
these people are not in a condition to
drive, but they do so anyway just so
they can continue to drink.
By changing the law, a small piece
of the competitive spirit of American
business will be preserved in Bryan-
College Station.
©\ < m- TUE REOPRP
Less filling
End of big CD boxes signals less waste
After years of criticism from
environmentalists and consumers, the
recording industry has decided to
eliminate the long boxes that contain
new compact discs in the United
States. Quite frankly, it's about time.
CD long boxes have been annoying
and controversial since the
introduction of the product in the
United States. A decade ago, record
stores wanted the CDs in a package
that would fit into
existing shelves
designed for vinyl LPs
and that would deter
shoplifting. The
recording industry
responded by putting
new CDs in a cardboard
box twice as long as the
plastic box that protects
the discs.
Long boxes have
drawn fire from
environmental groups due to the
wasteful packaging. A large cardboard
box and the shrink-wrap that covers
the box seem rather ridiculous,
especially as sales of the discs soared
over the past 10 years. The waste also
seems hypocritical in an industry
whose artists thrive on environmental
issues. In fact, recording artists helped
pressure the industry to eliminate the
Many consumers are also critical of
the long boxes, which make the
product bulky and difficult to open.
Most people expect the CD
marketers to simply shrink-wrap the
plastic boxes that protect the discs, a
method that is now used in every
country but the United States. This
seems by far the most logical choice
for record companies. The music
industry tried a collapsible box/case
combination called the "Eco-pack"
over the past few years, but the case is
expensive and awkward to use.
Industry officials say
the Eco-packs never
received support from
consumers and
environmentalists to
justify its extra expense,
and companies have
never put the pack into
widespread use.
Record stores are
complaining that the
new packaging will
require millions of
dollars in refitting store shelves —
money they claim the record industry
should help reimburse. But the new
packaging will save record companies
money after some initial retooling, and
the savings can be passed on to the
music stores and to consumers.
The shrink-wrapped boxes are set
to appear in April 1993, and the long
boxes' reign will finally end.
In the meantime, collectors might
consider saving embattled long boxes,
which may become collectors' items
for future generations.
Pieces of injustice
Lawyers act like comic vultures when it comes to making money
W hat do you call 100,000
lawyers at the bottom of the
ocean? A start.
I hate to start off a column with a
joke, but I have difficulty talking
about lawyers without saying or at
least thinking something funny. We
have far too many lawyers in this
country doing far too much damage
to the republic's ability to compete in
world markets,
have fun,
criminals and
even rescue
Lawyers today
seem to be a lot
like dogs, except
dogs have leashes
and lawyers are
allowed to roam
free. Both chase
motor vehicles,
though lawyers
have a preference for ambulances.
Dogs can chew off a person's limbs;
lawyers can do far more damage.
Lawyers get paid to take frivolous
cases to court and sue the pants off
another person. Dogs have few legal
rights, but generally resent being
compared to lawyers.
This idea came up after reading a
little current events recently on the
exploits of some of our nation's
lawyers. You know about the cabby
who was sued for stopping a thief
with the bumper of his cab and who
now gets to fork over $25,000. Here's
a shocker: the thief won't even get a
good bit of the money. The lawyer
who represented him will be paid an
enormous sum of money for that
case. Why? Litigation fees, of course.
An inventor recently dosed a case
against Ford Motor Co. over claims
he invented the intermittent wiper.
He claimed Ford(and subsequently
everybody else) owed him cash for
patent infringement. He won a $10
million claim, but cannot afford to
continue litigation. His lawyers got
all $10 million.
The breast implant scare of late
seems to revolve around health and
safety. Dangerous or not, the
litigation world mobilized when the
Food and Drug Administration
forced a moratorium on the implants.
There is dissension in the ranks.
Some lawyers want the implant cases
tried individually, while others want
to present grievances collectively in a
single suit. Lawyers who are against
a collective suit say such case would
infringe on an individual plaintiff's
right to punitive damages. In either
case, no matter how the FDA decides
the issue, Dow Corning is dead meat
in the eyes of lawyers.
A few years ago, the German
automobile company Audi was
fighting for its corporate life in
America. 'Concerned citizens groups'
claimed that the Audi 5000 had a
habit of getting into gear and hitting
the gas pedal all by itself. Heavy
amounts of litigation followed. The
'unattended acceleration' claims were
completely discounted and blame
was placed on 'pedal misapplication,'
a fancy term for hitting the go-pedal
when you should have hit the stop-
pedal. The damage was done,
though. Audi paid dearly in sales and
law fees and has never recovered its
market share in America.
What's the difference between a
skunk lying on a road and a lawyer
lying on a road? The skunk's the one
with skid marks in front of it.
Exxon, the same corporation that
brought you the Exxon Valdez, was
given a strange sentence recently. The
company transferred an employee
working in a sensitive position on an
oil platform to a land job. The
employee was an alcoholic and
Exxon hoped to avoid another spill
like the one in Alaska. The man sued
Exxon to get his former job back even
though his new job paid identically to
his old one. Exxon lost the suit, and
not only had to give the man his old
job but also had to pay punitive
damages. That's right, Exxon had to
pay because it tried to remove an
alcoholic from a sensitive position.
A dollar was lying on a table near
Santa Claus, an honest lawyer and
the Tooth Fairy. The lights went out
and the dollar was gone. Who took
it? The Tooth Fairy: the other two are
figments of your imagination.
So far, the only person in the
government to mention just how
badly litigation is out of control is our
illustrious Vice President, J. Danforth
Quayle. Quayle set forth a plan to
revamp a good bit of the judicial
system to increase efficiency and
hopefully eliminte some of the more
obscene misuses of the courts. The
ideas he presented would, among
other things, curb contingency fees
and would force the losing side in a
civil case to pay the winner's legal
fees, a method used in most other
civilized nations(and even a few
uncivilized ones). He presented these
ideas in a speech to the American Bar
Association, the guys whose salaries
would be affected by new curbs on
litigation. Pretty gutsy move, I have
to admit.
Not surprisingly, the association
blasted Quayle for his ideas. They
also disputed his facts. Quayle
mentioned that the United States has
70 percent of the world's lawyers
even though it has only 5 percent of
the world's population. The
association countered that we have
only about 50 to 60 percent of the
world's lawyers, and may have
disputed the population quote. Of
course, the association also said
lawyers really aren't such bad guys.
Lawyers aren't entirely to blame
for the republic's judicial fiasco.
There are juries and judges in all
these cases who allowed this to go on
for years. Only now is the
government beginning to wake up
and take a peek at the mess it helped
perpetuate by enacting broad, obtuse
legislation with murky phrasing only
a lawyer could love.
What are the chances of getting
some real changes in the civil judicial
corner? I'll give you a hint: most of
our Congressmen are lawyers by
In the mean time, a Texas federal
judge suggested in a Wall Street
Journal article that lawyers could be
used instead of laboratory mice
because: there are more lawyers; you
don't get emotionally attached to
lawyers; and there are some things
the mice just won't do.
DeShazo is a sophomore
electrical engineering major
Boney takes wrong
stand on guns
I am writing in response to Brian Boney's
editorial on gun control. He is obviously very
uninformed on this issue and it is questionable
whether a person with less than adequate
information should be an opinion editor of a
college newspaper. His beliefs and proposals
outline a flawed rationale. I also must say that I
resent his character assault on those who believe
in the Second Amendment to our Constitution.
First, Boney states than a gun in the hand of a
victim is useless if the attacker strikes first. This
idea is false because thousands of people have
thwarted armed attacks of criminals whith these
"useless" guns. Next Boney claims that so-called
"assault weapons" can penetrate brick walls and
are too dangerous for civilian ownership. First,
an assault weapon is one that fires until empty
with one action of the trigger. The government
prohibits unrestricted trade of these weapons.
The question is: What does Boney describe as an
"assault weapon?" The media organizations
define an "assault weapon" as any gun modeled
after military designs, though they are
mechanically different. With some checking one
can find that these military calibers actually are
not as powerful as most bolt action hunting rifles
about which Boney writes. Restrictions on
purchasing guns fall into both federal and state
jurisdiction. To purchase a firearm in Texas you
must be a resident, 21 to buy pistols, and 18 to
buy shotguns and rifles. Federal law does not
allow convicted felons to own firearms. This
means it is not as easy for anyone as Boney
claims to buy a gun legally.
Boney uses* these arguments to lead up to his
cure all solution to end today's violence. His
solution is to ban all firearms except bolt-action
rifles and pump-action shotguns that have
legitimate sporting uses. Boney should know
that this ludicrous idea not only would be next to
impossible to enforce, but also would do gothing
to decrease crime.
His proposal to ban guns does not have a leg
to stand on simply because it does not address
the real problem. That problem is a criminal
justice system that does not provide adequate
deterrent to those considering using a gun to
commit an illegal act. Efforts should be made to
punish criminals with penalties fitting thier
crimes. Following this method of logic the
federal government should ban motor vehicles
that kill far more people annually than firearms.
Guns don't kill people but people do. This
mentality of placing blame on objects for society's
ills makes no sense.
Don't take away the rights of law-abiding
citizens. After all, if guns are outlawed, only the
outlaws will have guns. Does Brian honestly
think criminals who obtain their guns illegally
anyway will care if legislation is passed making
their possession of guns illegal in another aspect
of the law? The only ones who would be affected
are those who obey laws anyway. How does this
improve our society?
I am sorry, Brian, but banning guns won't
make our country a place where "shiny happy
people" like yourself and Michael Stipe will feel
Chris Homan
Class of'95
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