Dispatches > The Buzz


Issue: "Mel Martinez: HUD's man," March 3, 2001
  • Medical relapse: Hillary Clinton's doing her health care thing again. Columnist Paul Craig Roberts noted that the freshman senator from New York gave her first Senate speech on the subject-and she's unrepentant. He argues that the usual Democratic view of medicine is based on faulty notions of class warfare that actually endanger patients. Red tape forces doctors out of private practice and into HMOs or other programs where treatment is viewed bureaucratically. The federal agenda (abortion, welfare, Medicare, etc.) destroys the duty of doctors to treat patients. Mr. Roberts writes: "A new bioethics has developed. It teaches that some people are obliged to die because they cost more to care for than they are worth to society." Thus a Hillary Clinton complains about the system and calls for laws that make the system even worse.
  • O.J. Clinton: Meanwhile, the unexpected backlash against Hillary's husband goes on. Canadian columnist Mark Steyn calls this the "remorseless OJfication of William Jefferson Clinton." Both O.J. Simpson and the former president beat their raps, but were still vilified by the mainstream media after they stopped being newsmakers. Mr. Simpson was and is blacklisted, while Mr. Clinton is getting clobbered for his speaking tours, the Marc Rich pardon, and basically embarrassing his apologists. (See Tim Graham's White House report, "The spotlight fight," p. 21.)
  • Educational malpractice: So-called civil-rights groups care about symbolic battles over Confederate flags and John Ashcroft and little about preparing underprivileged young blacks for the real world. So says Walter Williams, citing statistics that 73 percent of African-American students in the University of California system need remedial math classes. He says that most of these kids weren't troublemakers and were ripped off by their high schools. "When a diploma is conferred, it certifies that the recipient has mastered high-school level material," the George Mason University economist said in his column. "A student so certified who cannot perform at the eighth- and ninth-grade levels has a fraudulent diploma. It's like meat sold as fresh and, when you get it home, you find it maggot-laden."
  • Who pays? In his weekly column, Texas congressman Ron Paul challenged the idea that tax cuts favor the wealthy, even though the current progressive tax structure works against the wealthy. "The focus, as always, is on overhyped disparities in wealth," he said. Rep. Paul cited IRS statistics: Those making $100,000 are 6 percent of the population, but pay more than 55 percent of all income taxes. Those making under $50,000 annually are 75 percent of the population, but only shell out 17 percent of all income taxes.
  • Kill the death tax: One tax that deserves good riddance is the estate tax. Jim Martin, president of the 60 Plus Association, calls it the "death tax" (as does President Bush) and wants it repealed immediately. He also calls it the Grim-Reaper's Tax, Grave Robber's Tax, Cruelest Tax, Exit Tax, Departure Tax, and Success Tax. He said in a Washington Times article that a proposed 10-year phase out isn't enough and that a retroactive repeal to January 1 is better. The current system puts Uncle Sam "first in line of claimants for a loved one's earthly possessions," he said. Mr. Martin explained that the super-rich use foundations and other methods of escape, leaving the middle class to watch inheritances evaporate.
  • Button up: Tax cuts aren't the only things born from the economic slowdown. The Economist reports that the "business casual" style of dress may be in decline. "Suits are back," proclaimed an unbylined editorial, and "dressy casual" is the new thing. While many workers won't necessarily be wearing more formal attire, at least they will tuck their shirts in.
  • Bread & circuses: The movie Gladiator collected a basket of Oscar nominations-and Bill O'Reilly saw some symbolism. "These days more and more Americans seem to be ready to break out the togas and head down to their local Nero Sporting Complex for some good old-fashioned carnage," he said in his column. Mr. O'Reilly meant that Americans, half of whom don't vote, could not care less about big issues as long as there is bread on the table and circuses on the TV. Everything from porn to reality TV exists to keep people (of any persuasion) unconcerned about their world. What happens when the Huns show up?

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