Dispatches > The Buzz

QuickTakes

Issue: "Tax man's terror," April 14, 2001

SAT = SHOULDN'T APPLY TODAY: University of California President Richard C. Atkinson wants to get rid of the SAT test as a standard of aptitude. Why? It provides racially uneven results. Asians and Caucasians do well and are "overrepresented" while African-Americans and Hispanics fall behind and are "underrepresented." Columnist Paul Craig Roberts challenges this, calling it a dumbing-down of academic standards in the name of racial equality. "Individual merit has become racist," he writes. Mr. Roberts argues that civil rights have mutated from emphasizing equality in law to racial preferment, with potentially dire consequences for America. GLASS HOUSES: Remember Stephen Glass? He was an up-and-coming New Republic writer who got caught writing fabricated stories, including smears against conservatives and Christians. According to the Washington City Paper, Mr. Glass has moved on; he graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center and is now a law clerk for D.C. Superior Court Judge A. Franklin Burgess Jr. "I'm disturbed by the fabrications," the judge told reporter Jason Cherkis. "But I believe in giving people a second chance. He told me about it. I was satisfied with his explanations." FILE THIS ONE UNDER "NEVER": "When was the last time you heard a story on the national evening news about a citizen saving a life with a gun?" Yale Law scholar and gun control researcher John R. Lott Jr. complains in the Los Angeles Times that the mainline media consistently ignores the facts about gun use. Civilians' firearms stop about 2 million crimes per year, says Mr. Lott. That's five times more often than they are used to commit crimes. "In fact, in 98 percent of the cases, simply brandishing a gun is sufficient to stop a crime. Research at Florida State University and at the University of Chicago indicates that only one out of 1,000 defensive gun uses results in the attacker's death." YOU DON'T BRING ME FLOWERS ANYMORE: Barbra Streisand's three-page memo to Democratic leaders is even shriller than her music: "We have a president who stole the presidency through family ties, arrogance, and intimidation, employing Republican operatives to exercise the tactics of voter fraud by disenfranchising thousands of blacks, elderly Jews, and other minorities." Naturally, this memo took its share of punishment from pundits. Andrea Peyser of the New York Post called it a "single-spaced cry for help." The American Spectator's Mark Hemingway saw it as a sloppy rendition of the theme that anyone who isn't a yellow-dog liberal is a tool of big corporations. Newsmax.com simply reprinted the text verbatim, attaching an intro saying that "The country is already sick of Tinseltown limousine liberals telling America how to become a socialist paradise." POLITICAL ENTRAPMENT: David Horowitz is having a good laugh. He tried to buy a bunch of ad space in college newspapers to editorialize against reparations for black slavery and was predictably vilified as a racist extremist. In his token-conservative column in Salon.com, he wrote that his strategy to expose the campus left by baiting it into hysterics was a rousing success. Mr. Horowitz played his opponents as control freaks who go berzerk at the thought of dissent, making himself a reasonable moderate trying to administer a dose of reason in a ward full of fanatics: "What is at issue, really, in this campus tempest is not so much the right of an individual to publish his views as it is the right of an individual to publish reasonable views on race matters without being tarred and feathered or stigmatized for life." THE DEATH TAX'S VULTURES: Could the estate tax actually go away? A measure to eliminate it in 2011 is before Congress. Florida State University economist Randall G. Holcombe writes in Insight that big foundations fear its demise because that means the end of a major revenue stream. Founders set up foundations to escape the tax, and then trustees take them over after they die. Inevitably, these become cash cows for the left since trustees tend to be liberal and are accountable to no one. The Ford, Rockefeller, Carnegie, and other foundations are a powerful armada in the culture wars. "If people want to set up foundations with their wealth and turn over the control of their fortunes to people who answer to no one for their actions, that should be up to them," Mr. Holcombe writes. "But we should not encourage them to do so through our tax laws."

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