The Battalion. (College Station, Tex.) 1893-current, March 08, 2001, Image 9

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    Thursday, y
; trai=
:sclay, March 8. 2001
Page 9
Hi/erbal Agreements
:eping the &• ,
Military should honor its recruiters' old promises
r 1
:eping the
-sity Ladyjack^’
ic Texas Mi'
act on them
:y of Texas-,
)day at 6 p.u,|| he federal
4avs comeincB court of
2-1 losstolBals in
; Christi IsfepShington,
he Lady Ma ' C., decided to
verturn a dis-
are lead byt^fcal of a case
il Jones.Vii gainst the fed-
steals, Jones ral govern-
Mavs offeiJent. This case involves two vet-
IBs, William O. Schism and
an aggressid.
tball coach ];...
g to have top
:s and lii
nee lastsei
i A&M victor;
enter today's,
■ of their lastll
streak forth
leir recording
> No. 19ink
The Aggies
sanies wasaJ
king to coni
m kings, "sat:
me at a tiine.
the little thine;
is better and
vvill looktQ
tdges in thertj
tr future,
going to be
he mistakes
/ this season
nove up tk
i noticing us.'
recognition at
e team,
e were a
a,” said Col
to prove, amli
Robert L. Reinlie, who sued the
government for breach of contract.
The two joined the military dur
ing World War II, when recruiters
promised them and their dependents
free lifetime health care if they re
mained in the service for 20 years.
But in 1956, Congress said the re
tirees could have the health care on
only a space-available basis.
The military should honor its
word and give these veterans what
- m
the recruiters promised them.
The government argued that
there are no laws backing the re
cruiters’ promises and therefore,
they are worthless.
While there may be no laws sup
porting the promises, the men en
tered into an oral agreement with
the reemiters and the military, by
joining the armed forces and com
pleting their 20 years of service.
According to the appeals court.
wed from!
s, who kftst
weighed in;
FL Scouting
e on his wM
>omb.c shorn
ounds, a If
lays since 1
loss had
ice, as T(
the bench
ther early eni
an, perfontf
ered a
said. ‘‘He
le. I
er who ans* : |
“When the government forced the
retirees to rely on Medicare, it
breached the implied-in-fact con
tract.” By denying these veterans
health care, the military is tarnish
ing the ideals it teaches its mem
bers. One of the staples of the U.ST
armed forces is honor, and, by not 5
holding true to its word, the military
is defiling one of its ideals.
Many say that the government !
does not treat its servicepeople well
and that denying medical refunds to
these veterans is another example
of such poor treatment. Too often it
is heard that the military is under
paid and that many members leave
for better paying jobs, yet these vet
erans continued to serve America
with the belief that they would be
taken care of in retirement. The mil
itary failed to do that.
The military should repay these
men not only with money, but
with gratitude for their years of
dedicated service.
While this decision applies
only to Schism and Reinlie, the
military should not wait for a
class-action lawsuit by the remain
ing men who joined under the
same terms. By being proactive,
the government can save numer
ous extra costs that are part of
fighting new claims.
The government should act
quickly because these men and their
spouses are not getting any younger.
Many have already passed away,
and many more will if the case is
stretched over a period of years. It
will be wrong for these retirees to
die not knowing if their spouses’
medical costs will be covered.
When the military gives its word
through the recruiters that word
should not be broken.
These promises were made in an
„ era of “my word is my bond,” and
the Statements actually
had weight. If the government con
tinues to draw out this legal battle,
it will be doing an even greater dis
service to these men.
The government gave its word
and should face the consequences
for not honoring it. The best ap
proach would be admitting the mili
tary was wrong and paying these
men for their medical expenses over
the years. The government should
not stop with these two veterans —
it should pay the some 6 million
men and their spouses the benefits
they have been denied for years.
Brieanne Porter is a junior
political science major.
r 1
ud prices worldwide
have been on the rise.
from sur B '-- ™*P ri “ incr f s , e , is
intents in te« ua,1 y blamed on the 11
le to no si®' countr ’ es that make up the Or-
not to blame for high prices
ganization of the Petroleum
)ing prenye Exporting Countries (OPEC),
about 90 pC:®PEC produces about 40 per-
little hitchi: 06111 °f the world’s oil and
el all right," hoWs more than 77 percent of the world’s re-
ractice Rep!' A sizable portion of these countries are locat-
ed in the Middle East, and, partly because of
as the firsttiii America’s history in the region, OPEC makes a
is A&M Mgood scapegoat for higher oil prices. Blame for
lependenceD-cost increases can theoretically be placed on
vhat he saw. OPEC, as the group supplies so much oil to the
'as a goodslWorld. The only problem with blaming price in-
lere’s someBeases on OPEC is that it does not have the ef-
il youputthf|fect on American gasoline prices that many oil
the same. It companies try to claim,
le physical^ Part of the problem is that, for the common
it’s what it's consumer, high fuel prices are just another rising
lost in an expensive world. For some portions of
if Toombst ^America, especially Texas, high fuel prices often
hole at full: strengthen the economy. Because of the state’s
to a rums | |] ose tj es t 0 the oil industry, the strength or
ole as sophot Weakness of the oil industry is a major economic
n getting re i |f actor f or Texans to consider,
y Jones not| Since high prices are good for the oil industry,
de injuiy, 1 pi] companies do their part to keep them high.
: Cam fiijMhcy are aided by the fact that the public, especial-
ipantsatiulf 1\ Americans, never really fights the cost increases.
Americans continue to pay whatever it may cost to
drive, even as they buy larger and less-efficient ve
hicles. Many complain, but no effective protest is
|ver organized. Even during the height of the
970s gas crisis, drivers waited in long lines for
eir chance to pay too much for fuel.
11 have theilB ^ ne tbe current explanations for sustained
u^jojfcgh oil prices, even after last year’s OPEC pro-
° 1 Suction increases, has been the supposed lack of
Joe there al)
i. “We’re pi:
)ut he’s genu
fullback. F:
lack right Di*
to be a
i the Mondf
111 more
s : reserves around the world and here in America.
■Surplus oil production capacity worldwide is
currently near its lowest level during a non-dis
ruption period over the past three decades. It is
close to its lows after such events as the 1973-74
Arab oil embargo and the Iranian revolution. Es
timates of oil inventories worldwide, however,
indicate that the question of world oil supply ver
sus demand balances do not completely reflect
the current state of the world oil market.
Despite the recent large increases in produc
tion compared to past smaller increases in con
sumption, world oil stocks have not increased.
According to the OPEC fact sheet on the U.S. En
ergy Information Administration (EIA) Website,
“Official Energy Statistic^ from the U.S. Govern-
OPEC is certainly not a
perfect organization, but it
does deserveUnore credit
than it has peen given.
ment,” this fact implies 1 th it “production has been
overestimated, consum'pti m data has been under
estimated, or that the stbc : data is incorrect.” The
EIA calls this the “missinj
The most reliable aval
the industrialized coupjriJ
for Economic Co-opleffeti]
(OECD). OECD stocM, ij
around half of total world oil stocks, “remained
virtually unchanged in 2000 despite four increas
es in OPEC production quptas during the year,”
according to the EIA.
The balances available from the EIA for
supply and demand suggest that OECD stocks
should have increased by nearly 400,000 bar
rels per day during the year. “Since the stock
data do not show this increase, these barrels
have been characterized as ‘missing,’ with a
further unknown amount not showing up in
non-OECD stocks.”
These so-called “missing” barrels, if they
exist, would be very significant, as they totaled
almost 150 million barrels last year. That
; barrels” problem,
able stock data are for
I in the Organization
h and Development
elieved to account for
amount would be large enough to move OECD
stock counts up from historically low levels
into the average of their range over the past
seven years.
OPEC has expressed its desire and commit- <
ment to maintain a price range of $22 to $28 per
barrel for its oil. Any price higher or lower than'
that range warrants changes in production quota's.
While OPEC has been better about maintainihg
its quotas in recent years, there are still countries
that produce over their quota. The member nations
of OPEC, while certainly not the best of friends jp
the United States, do not want high prices any . q
more than the average driving citizen does. If fuel
prices are consistent and reasonable, OPEC makes
money. When there is a large increase in oil pricey,
more often than not, one or more of OPEC’s
members will get greedy and flood the market, at
tempting to make a quick profit. As the market be
comes flooded with supply, the prices drop dra
matically, and all of OPEC loses.
With many companies missing surplus sup
ply that may or may not exist, OPEC can be
portrayed as an evil oil empire controlling the
price of fuel. But if these barrels were “found,”
these companies would be out of excuses and
would have to pass the recent crude price drop
on to the consumer. Many Americans seem to
have completely missed that, despite OPEC’s
increase of quota in the summer of 2000, a cor
responding drop in pump prices was never
seen. OPEC is certainly not a perfect organiza
tion, but it does deserve more credit than it has
been given.
In the end, it may simply come down to the
fact that, throughout America, and especially in
Texas, the better oil companies are doing, the
better the economy as a whole is. Most people
would not want to give up the relative prosperity
the United States is currently enjoying in ex
change for paying 20 cents less for gas.
Andrew Stephenson is a sophomore
environmental design major.
Navy not tour guide!
A s the na
tion cau
awaits the con
clusion of an
investigation by
the National
Safety Board
(NTSB) and the
Navy, questions as to what caused
the collision between the U.S.S.
Greeneville and the Japanese boat
Ehime Maru remain unanswered.
The 360-foot nuclear subma
rine was on routine patrol south of
Oahu, Hawaii, when it surfaced
and collided with the Maru in ear
ly February. The collision spared
the lives of 25 but presumably
killed nine Japanese citizens as
they fished the Hawaiian waters.
The submarine’s failure to de
tect the fishing vessel above it has
aroused intense criticism because
16 civilians were on board the
Greeneville at the time of the acci
dent. It has not been clearly estab
lished whether the civilians were
indeed a distraction, but nonethe
less, the mere fact that they were
on board raises serious doubts.
Details reveal that the
Greeneville was practicing a ma
neuver known as an emergency
blow. Ideally, the crew is supposed
to use several forms of highly so
phisticated equipment to plot the
location, speed and course of any
vessel in an eight-to-10-mile radius
before the maneuver propels the
sub to the surface. Somewhere in
these prescribed measures, a flaw
occurred, and the crew failed to de
tect the Maru directly above it.
NTSB officials have said they
will focus on the civilians on board
as an indirect cause of the accident.
The 16 civilians, were on board
because as part of what the Navy
calls its “most effective public re
lations tool.” The Navy invites in
fluential citizens, friends and fami
ly of sailors, and journalists onto
ships to gain publicity and support
for its programs. In this case, the
civilians aboard the Greeneville
had donated money to a group that
pays for the maintenance of the
battleship Missouri.
In the court of inquiry that be
gan this week, testimony revealed
that the emergency drill was
pushed back by almost 45 minutes
because the civilians had to be fed
in two shifts. Cmdr. Scott Waddle,
second-in-command of the
Greeneville, apparently ignored
procedure after spending quality
time chatting with guests during
lunch and ended sweeps by the
sub’s periscope five minutes early
to make up for the delay. Regard
less of this inexcusable mistake,
others on the Greenville should
have picked up the slack.
Another procedure that could
have prevented the incident, a
sonar plotter procedure that listens
for sounds of other ships in the
water, proved ineffective as well.
A crew member had been tracking
the Ehime Maru with the plotter
less than an hour before the colli
sion but stopped because of over-
crowdirig in the control room.
John Jammerschmidt, a NTSB
member said the crew member
“was unable to finish his job plot
ting sonar blips because the civil
ians were in his way.”
Despite these disturbing find
ings, the NTSB has said that crew
members honestly thought “there
was nothing near them when they
did the emergency surfacing drill.”
Maybe they should face the fami- |
lies of the victims who perished in i
the collision and see how their mis-;
takes affected the lives of others.
Even more troubling, two civil- ’
ians were allowed to sit at two of
the three control stations, essen
tially controlling the rudder and j
levers that initiated the
Greeneville’s ascent. Although the
Navy adamantly says the civilians ;
were under close supervision,
Japanese officials were outraged. ;
“A civilian would not know
what to do at the controls,” said Ry-
oichi Miya, first mate of the Ehime
Maru. “It is absolutely unforgivable
if a civilian was operating it!”
The mayor of Uwajima, Japan, 7
alongside the families of those y
who were killed, vented his frus- I
tration with the United States for “i
failing to prevent the accident.
“Common sense dictates that
the rising submarine should have
been watching for what was above
it,” said Mayor Hiroshi Ishibashi.
Although the onboard presence
of civilians can be disregarded by _
some, Navy officials told CNN
that, if it had not been for the civild;
ians, the Greeneville would not 2
have been out there in the first
place. The civilians had originally
been planned to accompany the j
submarine on a trip several days :
earlier, but for some reason Wad
dle canceled it.
However, Waddle decided to . |
go ahead with the trip when he ;
learned that the civilians had al- .:
ready arrived in nearby Honolulu/;
Essentially, the decision to go on
with the tropical cruise caused the ;
submarine to be in the wrong
place at the wrong time — at the I
expense of nine peoples’ lives. ;
A disturbing revelation of ironic |
facts has additionally heightened , *
the sensitivity of the tragedy
among the people of Japan. The •
man who arranged for the civilians *
to be on board the Greeneville hap- \
pened to be the former commander «
of the U.S. forces in the Pacific, - I
Gen. Richard Macke. Macke was ■
forced into early retirement in
1995 after telling a reporter that the ‘
servicemen convicted for raping an
Okinawan schoolgirl should have "
paid a prostitute instead.
Additionally, this tragedy
struck at a time when the Bush ad- ‘
ministration has been vigorously '
vying for strong relations with the
Japanese because of their impor- «
tance in Asian affairs. %
Although the Navy has barred '
civilians from the controls of U.S.
nuclear submarines, they will still
be allowed on ships pending the
results of the investigation. Mean
while, President Bush has asked
Defense Secretary Donald Rums
feld to “review all policy regard
ing civilian activity during mili
tary exercises,” according to CNN.
Instead of doing their duty to
the fullest of their ability, the Navy
and crew members of the
Greenville were too busy enter
taining high-dollar VIPs and cram
ming civilians on the bridge of an
already tightly packed ship, plac
ing the lives of the civilians in
jeopardy as well.
The Navy should put these
civilian donors on a real cruise ship
bound for the Bahamas instead of
on a nuclear submarine. Perhaps
there, they can live out their fan- \
tasies on board a glass-bottom boat
with a professional tour guide.
J.J. Trevino is a senior
journalism major.
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