This Week

Issue: "Bible translation blues," Nov. 21, 1998

Hey Big Spender

How much will it cost businesses to prepare computers for Y2K? Publicly traded companies are now required to report these costs to the Securities and Exchange Commission, and this quarter's filings show large Y2K budgets. Aetna U.S. Healthcare, for example, will spend $110 million after taxes in 1998 and $85 million in 1999. Sears, Roebuck and Co. announced that half of its information systems are Year 2000 compliant and the rest will be ready by mid-1999. So far the company has spent $67 million on computer repairs and expects to spend as much as $143 million. These data show that big business takes Y2K seriously. John A. Tuccillo, consulting economist for the National Association of Realtors, said, "There will be noticeable and significant effects, including a restriction in transnational credit, but it won't be overwhelming for our economy."

Mr. Livingston, we presume

Social conservatives are getting the blame for the Republican Party's failure to expand its congressional majorities. Moderates, who are prepared to relinquish any principle in order to win approval from the establishment, now claim that only they can lead. Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.) is the most likely successor of Newt Gingrich as House Speaker. He was off to a good start when he told ABC's This Week program that the people want more honesty from their leaders. He said he would introduce a bill to repeal the Johnson administration's policy of putting Social Security off-budget. This might increase the deficit on paper, but it would be an honest budget. But here's what Republicans must do to recover from their near-disaster on Nov. 3.

  • They should create an agenda that every faction of the party can endorse. This would include tax cuts and a reduction in the size of government. This should include a "no more pork" pledge. How can Republicans be trusted when they loaded up the last budget bill with so much spending that it resembled a "swine bill of rights"?
  • To address social issues, Republican governors should convene a meeting of religious and humanitarian leaders. Governors could give special attention and encouragement to those pregnancy help centers that answer the question "who's going to take care of me and my baby if I don't have an abortion?" Many women are not aware of such centers or of compassionate alternatives to abortion because the press mostly ignores them. Abortion could be significantly reduced just by making such resources more widely known. Then, when the public knows the help is there, it might be persuaded to tighten legal restrictions against "convenience" abortions.
  • While shellshocked House Republicans wonder what became of their "revolution," the Supreme Court has allowed the real revolution to proceed. By a vote of 8-1, the court refused to block Wisconsin's program that allows poor children to attend the private or religious school of their parent's choice. Republicans should continue to support private scholarship efforts that offer poor people a choice of where to send their children to school. As initial data show, choice improves grades and behavior. The pressure will then build for universal choice in education, with tax dollars following the child. School choice will break the country's last big monopoly and restore quality education for all.

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Ronald Reagan's secret was not only his ideas: He restored the people's faith in themselves. When more people realize they can make it on their own if government will get out of the way, the real Republican revolution-which is now just revolting-will have been won. That is the message and the agenda that new Republican leadership must pursue.
-Cal Thomas, © 1998, Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Time to 'fess up

When nude pictures of radio host Laura Schlessinger appeared on the Internet, she denied they were real and sued the pornographers who bought them from her ex-boyfriend. After a California judge denied her request to force the 23-year-old photos off the Web, she came clean on her national radio show. She called her former beau "morally reprehensible" and said her life had changed because of her conversion to Judaism. "In my 20s, I was my own moral authority," Mrs. Schlessinger told listeners. "The inadequacy of that way of life is painfully obvious today. At the same time, my early experiences have taught me how much better it is to live by an objective and absolute standard of right and wrong, preferably a standard set by God." Mrs. Schlessinger, 51, calls herself "Dr. Laura" and advises callers on morality and family relationships. She recently published a bestseller on the Ten Commandments. Former talk show host Bill Balance, who snapped the shots, claims Mrs. Schlessinger was married when they were dating. She said she had filed for divorce and never hid their relationship. "I am mystified as to why, 23 years later, this 80-year-old man would do such a morally reprehensible thing," she commented. Seattle cyberporn king Seth Warshavsky, whose company made the pictures public, says the photos expose her as a hypocrite. "What makes them so interesting is that Dr. Laura has set herself up as some sort of stern archetype of virtue who mercilessly attacks callers if they reveal an extramarital affair," he said. Many fans wrote to her expressing relief that their own past actions are "buried in merciful oblivion," Schlessinger noted. "Would that I could say the same,'' she sighed.

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