|August 31, 2001 9:45 p.m. -- It's an elementary principle of
psychology that we criticize in others that which we most don't want to
recognize in ourselves.
This seems to apply perfectly
Lately they've been saying
that the Democrats "have no new ideas," or better yet, that the
Democrats "haven't had a good idea in 60 years."
Aren't the Republicans
talking about themselves? When was the last time they had a
Virtually all the pieces of
legislation in the past 60 years that have made our society more just and
humane have been Democratic initiatives, and opposed by most Republicans.
Just to mention some of the
highlights, the Democrats were behind the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and
1991, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Fair Housing Act of 1968, Medicare
in 1965, the Environmental Policy Act of 1969, and the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990 -- not to mention being in the forefront to update
and adequately fund and enforce these Acts every one of the last 60 years
right up through the year 2001.
It could well be argued that
the only ideas Republicans ever have is to oppose all programs that move us
away from Darwinian survival of the fittest and the law of the jungle (and
to sometimes offer in their stead ersatz solutions which those supposedly
being helped invariably oppose).
Republicans don't have useful
ideas; they only offer mean-spirited vehicles to exercise the
fundamental lack of compassion afflicting that political party.
August 30, 2001
9:35 p.m. --
Two recent press reports illustrate the corporate media's willful blindness
concerning a critical, life-and-death issue, and the resulting ignorance of
the public concerning same.
about Mexico's attempt to play a bigger role on the world stage, notes that
a large percentage of the Mexican population is ill-nourished. The
telling of a drought creating a food crisis in Central America, reports that
even when there's no drought, 6,000 children die each year in El Salvador
Just think for a
second. Don't we get our fruits, vegetables and coffee from countries
like Mexico and El Salvador? Why are these countries exporting food,
when they have starving people within their borders? Why is the best
farmland in those countries used to grow food and other items for export,
while the farmers who grow food for themselves and their countrymen to eat,
have access to only the most marginalized land?
It's all part of the global
Enough food is
grown in the world to provide over 3500 calories per day to every man, woman
and child. That's more than enough to make everyone obese. So
how could there be so much hunger in the world? How could so many
people wind up starving to death? The answer is social injustice.
Small-scale farmers and their
families are a majority in many Third World countries. These farmers and
others go hungry because the fertile lands on which the farmers used to grow
affordable food for themselves and their countrymen have been stolen to grow
export crops, usually in conjunction with multinational agribusiness
corporations. The bulk of world hunger, which kills 12 million children
every year, is caused not by droughts, overpopulation or scarcity of food,
but by this type of injustice.
The United States
is a key player in this global food system. First, our huge,
comparatively wealthy population creates enormous demand for these export
crops, fueling the spread of export agriculture around the world.
Second, the United
States has always provided crucial support -- political, economic and
military -- to the undemocratic (or pseudo-democratic) governments which
rule in the interest of those who steal the land, and brutally crush any
protests against that theft.
So, in effect, we
steal food from the Third World poor by using our economic might to cause
the best farmland in these countries to be used to grow food for us, not for
the inhabitants of those countries.
And we insure their
continued starvation by our long-time support of the governments in those
countries which -- with our full knowledge -- torture and commit other
horrific human rights abuses against those who try to change the situation.
The corporate media
virtually never discuss the issue of world hunger in this fashion.
[For a more
detailed examination of this issue, see 12 Myths
About Hunger and the other resources provided by the organization Food First.]
August 29, 2001
9:35 p.m. -- As
a result of continued U.S. interference in the Nicaraguan presidential
election process, Sandinista (FSLN) party candidate Daniel Ortega has been
overtaken in the polls by Liberal Constitutionalist party candidate Enrique
Bolaños. Bolaños stands at 38.6%, Ortega 35.8%, and Conservative
Party candidate Alberto Saborío 4.5%, according to an August 24 article
in the Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa.
U.S. interference in the
Nicaraguan electoral process has taken three forms:
- direct pressure on the
Conservative Party so that its popular candidate quit the race;
- public warnings against a
Sandinista victory; and
- the allocation of
relatively huge amounts of money to "assist" in the election.
Direct pressure on the
Conservative party: The Conservative party used to have a far more
popular candidate, Noel Vidaurre, who was taking a good share of the
electorate in the polls. There was talk in Nicaragua that without
Vidaurre in the race, Bolaños would have a much better chance of defeating
Ortega, since Vidaurre's supporters would be expected to switch to Bolaños
proportionally more than to Ortega.
The Conservatives are in an
alliance with a number of other parties. Vidaurre was strongly in
favor of opening up the Conservative slate for lower offices to candidates
from the other groups in the alliance. After the head of the
Conservative Party, Mario Rappacciolo, decided against this course of
action, Vidaurre and his running mate quit the race on July 17.
The Conservative party's
replacement candidate is, as expected, garnering a much lesser share of the
vote than Vidaurre, and also as expected, Bolaños picked up more of the
defectors than Ortega.
The U.S. played a critical
role in Rappacciolo's decision and Vidaurre's subsequently quitting the
race, according to a July 18 article
in the Nicaraguan newspaper El Neuvo Diario:
- Rappacciolo extended a
visit to Miami just so he could meet with several members of the U.S.
Congress. The Representatives are said to have pressured him to
close up space within the Conservative party so that Vidaurre would
resign and the party could then throw its support to the Liberal
candidate, Enrique Bolaños.
- A delegation of Republican
Congressmen, headed by Cass Ballanger (R-NC), visited Managua in July
and let it be known that the Conservative party support should go to
Bolaños to ensure an Ortega defeat.
- The week of Vidaurre's
resignation, Rappacciolo met several times with U.S. State Department
officials in Managua.
- The morning of Vidaurre's
resignation, Rappacciolo had breakfast with the U.S. Ambassador to
Nicaragua, Oliver Garza.
- As La Prensa
summarized it, under a headline referring to "North American
Pressure and Interference to Line Up All Groups Against the FSLN":
A breakfast yesterday
with U.S. Ambassador Oliver Garza, and several meetings with officials
of that country’s State Department the previous week, seem to have
been too much pressure for Conservative Party President Mario
Rappacciolo who decided to put an end to what they were calling the
Public warnings against a
Sandinista victory: According to the British newspaper the Guardian,
a high-ranking U.S. State Department official and former ambassador to
Nicaragua, Lino Gutierrez,
made it clear in a barely
coded address to the American chamber of commerce in Managua that the US
would not look kindly on the Sandinistas' re-emergence.
Observers say the message
was that those opposed to the Sandinistas should bury their differences
or suffer the economic consequences.
That same message was later
couched in diplomatic language by a State Department spokesman In Washington
on July 24, who said
we will continue to have
serious concerns about the Sandinistas, absent clear commitments from
candidate Ortega that he is now prepared to embrace democratic policies.
And again, according to the Maryknoll
organization, U.S. Ambassador Garza has publicly warned in Nicaragua that,
should the FSLN win without changing its policies, the U.S. would not change
its hard-line policy toward the Sandinistas.
Most disturbingly, Garza made
the statement while standing with a group of recently arrived U.S.
troops. A photo of himself and the troops was widely circulated in the
Nicaraguan national news media.
This symbolism -- most likely
deliberate -- is quite powerful in Nicaragua, where people have raw
memories of the 1980's contra terrorist war the U.S. organized, financed and
directed against Nicaragua the last time the Sandinistas were in
power. Indeed, "many people have expressed the fear that if the
Sandinistas are returned to office, a renewal of the 1980s war with the U.S.
would be likely."
(In another ominous sign, a
delegation of former contra leaders went to Washington in April to seek help
in preventing a Sandinista electoral victory.)
Allocation of relatively
huge amounts of money to assist in the election: As discussed in more
detail in a previous column, the
U.S. has allocated $5.6 million for "monitoring" and other
"help" in the upcoming Nicaraguan presidential elections.
(That number may be changing somewhat, according to an official I spoke to
at the U.S. Agency for International Development, which will administer the
funds. The final number will likely be at least the figure reported on the
Proportional to the relative
populations of Nicaragua (4.4 million) and the United States (280 million),
the $5.6 million is the equivalent of a foreign country spending over $356
million to "assist" in a U.S. presidential election.
Such an action would cause an
enormous uproar here, and never be tolerated. Remember the trouble
caused by the much smaller Chinese contributions in the 1996 presidential
Indeed, how would the U.S.
react were government officials of an infinitely more powerful nation to
pressure the Republican or Democrat parties to change their candidate
slate? Or if such foreign officials warned the U.S. people of dire
consequences were the election to go in a way not desired by that foreign
The U.S. behavior in
connection with the Nicaraguan presidential election is obscene, treating
that nation as if it's a colony, or a wholly owned subsidiary.
Unfortunately, but not
surprisingly, the U.S. press has reported virtually nothing about this.
[Here's a link to a group
opposing U.S. intervention in Nicaragua. The group urges people to
call their Representatives and Senators to demand an immediate end to all
U.S. interference in the Nicaraguan electoral process, and for people to
also call the press to demand that they cover this story.]
August 28, 2001
9:45 p.m. --
During the 1980's, human rights groups reported again and again that
Guatemalan and Salvadoran soldiers who were U.S. trained, equipped and
financed were committing horrible atrocities. The mainstream press,
among them The New York Times, mostly ignored these reports.
Indeed, when a rare story in
that newspaper by Raymond Bonner about a massacre in El Mozote, El Salvador
drew angry denials from the White House and other criticism, The New York
Times recalled Bonner from the field. Bonner shortly thereafter
left the paper.
During the latter part of the
1990's, forensic evidence proved that there was, indeed, a terrible massacre
at El Mozote. The existence of widespread human rights abuses as
reported by the human rights groups is now generally accepted, and Bonner is
back reporting for The New York Times.
A recent editorial in The
New York Times, discussing the nomination of John Negroponte to be the
U.S. representative at the United Nations, states that
The Senate must also
establish whether Mr. Negroponte was aware of and made any effort to
prevent the death squad activities of a Honduran Army battalion trained
and financed by the United States.
I'm glad The New York
Times is editorializing this way now. It just galls me that the
newspaper is not required to add a phrase along the following italicized
The Senate must also
establish whether Mr. Negroponte was aware of and made any effort to
prevent the death squad activities of a Honduran Army battalion trained
and financed by the United States, which death squad activities, this
newspaper must admit, were made possible by our continuing refusal to
report these atrocities at the time they were happening.
I can dream, can't I?
August 27, 2001
9:45 p.m. --
The press has just reported
yet another condemned inmate being cleared by DNA evidence. Charles
Fain spent nearly 18 years on death row for the rape and murder of a 9 year
old girl. DNA tests now show that hairs found on the girl's body were
Thank goodness for the long
time periods customary between sentencing and execution, or else Fain would
have been long gone.
The current prosecutor in
that jurisdiction, as well as the girl's family, accept the fact that Fain
Amazingly, the original
prosecutor still feels Fain is guilty, based on an FBI shoeprint expert who
said shoeprints at the scene matched Fain's. The FBI also conducted
the now-discredited test indicating the hairs were Fain's.
Perhaps one should conclude that having been proven wrong once, the FBI's
experts in this case are not reliable?
The original prosecutor also
bases his continued belief in Fain's guilt on the testimony of two jailhouse
informers. We all know how reliable their testimony is.
In any event, I think the
Holy Grail of anti-death penalty work is to find a person incontrovertibly
innocent who was executed. There have been at least 96 instances
since 1973 of wrongfully convicted people set free before the states had a
chance to kill them. Since these are just the cases we know about
where a defendant was wrongfully convicted, surely there must have been
other such cases where -- because of a lack of outside intervention to prove
innocence -- the defendants were wrongfully executed as well.
Death penalty opponents are
often asked why such a case has not been found. The explanation
is that with their limited resources, death penalty opponents can't even
properly handle the cases of those still living, let alone delve into the
cases of those already executed.
Some wealthy, anti-death
penalty benefactor should, therefore, make an express grant for the purpose
of investigating the most promising cases where it might be proven that an
innocent person was wrongly executed.
Support for the death penalty
has been slowly eroding the past few years, based in part on all the cases
where DNA evidence proved innocent those about to be executed. If an
instance of actual wrongful execution could be documented, the death penalty
would take a much more significant dive in public support, perhaps enough to
get rid of it altogether.
August 26, 2001
8:50 p.m. --
The New York Times devoted one paragraph
the other day to a report that "welfare changes have led to rising
hunger and homelessness among the city's poorest residents." This
one paragraph item was buried on page 17.
Let's see what was on page
one that day: China facing an AIDS epidemic; the Condit interview; Bush
announcing the U.S. will quit the ABM pact. So far, pretty important,
To continue with the page one
stories: an analysis of the budget surplus-Social Security conundrum; rising
law school admissions; public records online cause privacy concerns; and
food shortages cause bears to enter towns looking for food.
Well, I'm no news editor, but
I'd certainly rank the welfare report above at least the last three items on
page 1. Not to mention a whole lot of the other stories in the
newspaper between pages 2 and 17.
But then again, I, like many
others, think stories detailing how government policies are hurting our most
vulnerable citizens are quite important, and the New York Times
editors -- at least as evidenced in this instance -- apparently don't.
[To see this
report, from the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, go here and then click on "New
2001 9:10 p.m. -- Do you ever get frustrated and
depressed when you watch a cable news channel?
The far right has Fox News,
the mushy-middle to right-of-center has CNN, and everyone else even mildly
progressive has nothing. (The conservatives rant on about
"liberal" CNN, but that's only compared to Genghis Khan.) If
you're really progressive, the outlook is even more bleak.
How can progressives hope to
win the hearts and minds of the country, when all the country hears is the
Last spring there were reports that
Barbra Streisand was floating the idea of Hollywood liberals buying a
cable-TV network for a Democratic-oriented news channel. If that meant
"Democratic" as in Democratic-Leadership-Council
Rockefeller-Republican "Democratic," then excuse me for not
getting too excited.
Even if the idea was for a
much more progressive cable station, it could probably never happen in that
manner. Movie stars are notoriously averse to financing films with
their own money, and would likely not want to pony up for something like a
cable channel. I could be wrong.
In any event, Streisand was
for her suggestion, and seems to have dropped the idea.
But imagine that, instead of
four rich white guys pontificating about how the average American is doing,
a news channel would actually have a regular forum where different union
officials and rank-and-file workers discuss what is happening in their
industry. How about a roundtable with different civil and human rights
activists discussing the issues that affect their constituencies?
Debates wouldn't have a far
right ideologue squaring off against a slightly left-of-center moderate, but
would pair the right-winger against someone equally far to the left.
There would be fewer reports
on tornados, more coverage of the latest corporate outrages committed
against workers and consumers.
There would be less obsession
with the daily Wall Street averages -- instead, there would be a daily
report about the growing income and wealth inequality in America.
If all a person ever watches
is the corporate media news outlets, he or she might, perhaps, have a hard
time envisioning what I am talking about. But if you receive mailings
from activist groups, or call up hotlines, or visit alternative news
websites (for example, those in links), then you
are aware of the vast wealth of critically important stories that presently
aren't reported regularly, if at all, but could be.
Such a progressive cable news
channel would have a good chance of success, because the expanded types of
hosts, guests and subjects would feed into the audience's attraction to
seeing themselves and their lives reflected on the screen. And debates
between two genuinely different points of view would illuminate issues in an
exciting, visceral way rarely seen in the current news channel gabfests.
A progressive cable news
channel sounds nice, doesn't it?
But how to achieve this,
there's the rub.
2001 10:10 p.m. -- One of the best measures of the
obscene and ever-growing income inequality in this country is this: in 1980
the typical CEO of a large corporation earned 40 times
what a factory worker did. By 1998, that ratio had ballooned to 419
(yes, four hundred nineteen) times. (In Great Britain, by contrast,
the ratio is still 35
times, and in Japan 20 times).
sports -- or at least major league baseball -- has also experienced such a
greatly widened income gap.
In this past Sunday's New
York Times, an anthropology professor was comparing
minor league baseball during his brief career some 30 years ago to
now. One of the differences is that the current average major league
baseball salary of $2 million is more than 100 times greater than the 1967
average of $19,000. But most minor league players, after adjustments
for inflation, make less than what the professor and his minor league
teammates made 30 years ago.
And analogous to the way
entry level service industry jobs don't today pay a living wage (as Barbra
Ehrenreich has recently documented), in minor league
Except for the few who receive large signing
bonuses, rookies earn so little ($900 per month) that some depend on
their parents' credit cards to get by.
So even in this professional
sport, it seems, those at the top aggrandize unto themselves such a huge
share of the available resources that there's not enough left for a living
wage for those at the bottom.
2001 10:05 p.m. -- After suffering a defeat last year in
their valiant attempt to stop a little boy from being reunited with his
loving father, the hard-line element of the Cuban-American community has
finally scored a major victory.
According to The
New York Times,
Months after announcing
to considerable fanfare that the Latin Grammy Awards would move to Miami
from Los Angeles, event organizers have pulled the show from South
Florida over fears that Cuban-American protesters would disrupt the
Why would some
Cuban-Americans object to the Latin Grammy Awards being held in Miami?
Critics of having the
show here argued that the ceremony could provide a platform for
pro-Castro Cuban artists.
But according to the Miami
Several Cuban musicians
are nominated this year, but none were scheduled to perform and it was
unclear whether any would be attending the ceremony.
Even if a
"pro-Castro" singer or band leader did attend, and did get an
award and did say something favorable about Castro, this fanatical element
of the Cuban-American community is so insecure that they need to prevent
And so much for free speech.
But we already know how much
this hard-line element of the Cuban-American community cared about such
things when they were the big shots in dictator Batista's Cuba, and, after
they came to the U.S., how much they have concerned themselves about such
Constitutional niceties here.
[see Cuban-American "Democracy"
2001 9:35 p.m. -- Yesterday,
Newsmax.com graced its home page with the wisdom of the eminent
African-American leader the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, who demanded that Jesse
Jackson drop his Reverend title.
Today, the American public
should again be grateful to Newsmax.com, this time for making room not only
for the insights
of another well-known "civil rights leader" in the
African-American community, Kevin Martin, but also for the further words
of Rev. Peterson, who called for all Americans to boycott the NAACP.
I understand that tomorrow,
Rev. Peterson and Mr. Martin will be holding a joint press conference to
announce the formation of a committee to build a memorial honoring that
great champion of African-American civil rights, Sen. Jesse Helms, who will
be retiring from the Senate after his current term.
2001 8:15 p.m. -- The headline on wacky-right Newsmax.com
reads "Black Leader to Jesse Jackson: You're No Reverend." The article
goes on to quote someone called the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson:
Now is the time to stand on moral
principle and demand that Jackson drop the title 'Reverend,' and [to]
speak out against this immoral man.
To the question, "Have they no
shame?" the answer as to Newsmax.com and Rev. Peterson is, clearly,
"They have no shame."
Newsmax.com, which has a large and
fast-growing conservative audience, is here shown in a pathetic attempt to
elevate one bigmouth with a phantom following (called Brotherhood
Organization of a New Destiny) into a legitimate African-American leader.
Rev. Peterson doesn't have the authority to call for a pizza delivery on
behalf of anyone, let alone to call for Jesse Jackson to drop the title
earlier, Newsmax.com and Fox News are both attempting to discredit the
established African-American leadership and substitute individuals of their
own choosing. Who's buying this con game is anyone's guess.
[more on others who need to shut up about Jesse Jackson]
2001 9:10 p.m. -- As many of us are aware,
the people who pick our fruits and vegetables are among the most exploited,
poorly paid workers in this country. Anyone who still receives
literature from the United Farm Workers
union understands that the plight of many of these workers -- who do some of
the most unpleasant, back-breaking work imaginable -- has not improved
significantly since the Cesar Chavez-led grape boycott way back when.
What most people don't
realize is how easy it would be to remedy the situation, at least as far as
Did you know that according
to a study by a researcher at
the University of California at Davis
...if a 35 percent farm
worker wage increase were fully passed through to consumers, and if
there were no productivity improvements in response to the farm worker
wage increase, the farm worker wages and benefits embodied in a $1 head
of lettuce would rise from about 7 to 9 cents, and the retail price from
$1 to $1.02.
Two cents for each head of
lettuce seems an awfully small price for American consumers to pay to insure
that those who pick this vegetable are paid enough to themselves be able to
feed and otherwise take care of their families.
What about other crops?
For all fresh fruits and
vegetables, the average American would spend about $34 a year more if
farm worker wages rose 35 percent, and $67 more if they rose 70 percent.
Gee, who among us can't
afford ten or even twenty cents a day!
All the more reason why
paying such pitiful wages to these hard-working people is an outrage!
2001 8:00 p.m. -- One of the central goals
of the Republocrat party is to increase the share of the nation's income and
wealth held by the rich, at the expense of the middle class and poor.
And that goal is being achieved.
The government's own data show that the
increasing inequality of income that everyone noticed in the 80's under
Reagan/Bush Sr. continued during the Clinton years. Indeed, it
may even have accelerated then. Democrat or Republican, it doesn't
matter. They both govern in the interests of those at the very top
rung of wealth and income.
Look at this chart...
...and this text excerpt:
[T]he share of the national income
after taxes that the top one percent of the population received nearly
doubled between 1979 and 1997. The CBO data indicate that by 1997, the
2.6 million Americans with the highest incomes — the top one percent
— had as much after-tax income as close to 100 million Americans with
the lowest incomes. Similarly, the 20 percent of Americans with the
highest incomes received as much as the other 80 percent of the
population. [chart and excerpt from Inequality.org]
Such findings are always
criticized by right-wing pundits, who seek to deny what is apparent to
anyone with eyes, ears and an increasingly empty wallet compared to the
rich. A detailed analysis,
however, shows that these findings of a continuing increase in income
inequality are valid.
The stealing of our nation by
the wealthiest few should be the number one economic story every night on
the news. Yet how often have you heard about this ever?!
Such lack of coverage is not
surprising, of course, given who owns the mass media.
2001 11:25 p.m. -- What could be more
infuriating than hearing bigmouths who never risked anything for anybody
continually criticizing the peccadillos of people who risked everything for
The bigmouths I refer to are
those like Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and others of their
ilk who continually criticize Jesse Jackson for alleged financial
irregularities and/or for having an affair. Sure Jackson can be
criticized if he acted improperly. But perspective and a sense of
proportionality are key.
Hannity, O'Reilly et al
elevate the wrongdoing to the sum total of the man, and then ask questions
about whether Jackson is through as a leader, blah blah blah.
People with half a brain and
an ounce of decency take into account that Jackson has for decades devoted
himself to speaking out for the voiceless. Do the conservative pundits
not realize that Jackson risked his life over and over again doing
civil rights work in the Deep South with Martin Luther King, Jr.? It
could have been Jackson who was shot on that balcony, not Dr. King. It
could have been Jackson, not Medgar Evers, who was shot to death.
Such courage and long-term
dedication mean a whole lot to unbiased, not-blinded-by-ideology people.
And what have Sean Hannity or
Bill O'Reilly ever done for anybody? I don't know every detail of
their lives, but I'd wager they've never risked their lives fighting for
social justice. I'd wager they've never risked even getting beaten by
a hostile police force, or bitten by dogs, or water hosed, fighting on
behalf of others.
Oh sure, they may claim
they're speaking for "the average American," for "the little
guy," for "working Americans." Well, even if they were,
talk is cheap, and speaking from the comfort of an air-conditioned TV set
for a huge salary doesn't go very far in granting criticism rights against
others who do far more.
But of course, they don't
really speak on behalf of those they claim to. Quite the contrary, the
policies they espouse and the guests they have (and exclude) show that in
reality Hannity, O'Reilly et al are just shills for big bucks corporate
America, befitting the status these hosts enjoy as part of the top 1% of
income earners in the country.
I wish they'd shut up and
realize their criticisms merely emphasize how small they really are.
Jackson has more courage and integrity in his pinky than Hannity, O'Reilly
et al have in their entire being.
Hannity, go risk your
life on behalf of others.
O'Reilly, go put it all
on the line.
Until then, you and the other
bloviating fraud conservatives should SHUT UP about Jesse Jackson!
African-American "Leader" Should Also Shut Up About Jesse Jackson]
August 17, 2001 9:55 p.m. -- One of the most
repeated mantras of conservative Christians on the talk show circuit -- and
of talk show hosts like Sean
Hannity -- is "No sex before marriage." A related
admonition frequently voiced by these moralists is "No cohabitation
This theology defies all
common sense. It would require that people bind themselves to a
lifetime commitment to have sex with only one person, and to live their
entire life as man and woman with only that person, without ever having had
sex with that person or having lived with that person. In what other
area of human endeavor would anyone make such a lifetime, irrevocable
commitment with so little basis to believe it will work?
Perhaps the moralists don't
even know that sexual preferences and compatibilities differ from person to
person. If your lifetime sole sex partner and you have vastly
different sexual needs, desires and capabilities, such a match will create
only a lifetime of sexual unhappiness.
Likewise with sharing living
quarters with someone. Common sense would dictate that there at least
be a trial period of living together before the lifetime commitment is made.
The moralists often respond
that a pre-marriage living together situation is not the same thing as
living together as man and wife once the commitment is made. That's
true, but it's certainly a better approximation of it than nothing at all.
Would you sign an irrevocable
lifetime contract to work for a company, or with a specific co-worker,
without ever having worked for such a company, or with that
Equally absurd is marrying
someone without even knowing if you are sexually compatible, and if there is
some basis for believing you can happily live together.
I'm not talking here so much
about promiscuity (which for some may be a good thing in any case) but
rather about two people in love who feel they may want to get married, and
who may already even be engaged.
And all this is not to say
that there aren't people who do want to wait until they are married to have
sex or live together. Fine for them.
But don't make that an
iron-clad "moral" rule that everyone is supposed to follow.
For those who do want to test
the waters before plunging in forever, such a course of action certainly
makes sense and should be supported.
2001 9:25 p.m. -- Our economic system used
to be set up so that if people worked full-time jobs, they would earn enough
to support themselves. No more.
Author Barbara Ehrenreich
proved that in her new book Nickel
and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. As she described her
findings in a recent article:
I spent a total of three
months, in three different cities, attempting to support myself on the
wages I could earn as an entry-level worker - as a waitress, a hotel
housekeeper, a maid with a housecleaning service, a nursing-home aide and
a Wal-Mart floor clerk. I could not make ends meet, not with one job
anyway. I averaged $7 an hour, an amount that fell tragically short of my
bare-bones expenses - gas, food and, above all, rent.
If someone is trying to
support a family, forget about it. Even with both parents
working. Even with both parents working more than one job -- which by
itself wrecks havoc with the family and one's own personal health.
While Ehrenreich is a saint
for doing this research, it's amazing to me that it was even
necessary. No college-level calculus is necessary to figure out that
$7/hour doesn't cut it. It's the deliberately thick-skulled,
closed-eye nature of too many Americans that necessitates research like
How have we allowed an
economic structure to be created that violates a most basic tenet of the
social compact? Again Ehrenreich:
Almost everyone - 94
percent of Americans, according to a 2000 poll conducted by Jobs for the
Future, a Boston-based employment research firm - agrees that "people
who work full-time should be able to earn enough to keep their families
out of poverty." When that proposition no longer holds true, then the
social contract, at least as I always understood it, is no longer in
force. And it is hard to imagine a more serious abrogation of
"America's core moral values" than that.