Dispatches > Quick Takes


Issue: "The Marriage Amendment," June 8, 2002

Running on empty

Hawaii's collective gas gauge is slipping toward "E." State lawmakers capped profit margins for gasoline dealers at 16 cents per gallon on regular unleaded gasoline, and the plan takes effect two years from next month. Economist Thomas Sowell says the price cap will mean shortages, because the state can't repeal the law of supply and demand. Artificially low prices mean that supply will move elsewhere for more profits, Mr. Sowell pointed out in his syndicated column. Meanwhile, demand will rise when the cap keeps prices below market prices: "If price control is such a great idea, why postpone its benefits for two years? The only reason that makes sense is that the public thinks price control is a great idea, but the politicians know its bad consequences, and they don't want those bad consequences to show up before this year's election."

Outlaws and their guns

Robbers in England simply refuse to abide by the nation's gun-control laws. Historian Joyce Lee Malcolm wrote in the Boston Globe that firearms ownership is virtually banned, but the number of London's armed robbery victims rose 53 percent between April and November 2001. The chances of being mugged in London are six times greater than in New York: "As the old slogan predicted, only outlaws have guns.... Worse, they are increasingly ready to use them."

The last laugh

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A British newspaper reporter said former President Bill Clinton's recent speech in China was not well-received. At one point, listeners removed headsets providing a simultaneous translation; during a question-and-answer period, most of the audience "burst out laughing" at one non-answer. But the ex-president laughed all the way to the bank, picking up $250,000 for his effort. Reporter John Gittings of the Guardian said Mr. Clinton gave a rambling talk about the World Trade Organization and the Chinese real-estate economy. Members of his audience had to wait for the speech (his plane was delayed), then were underwhelmed by what they heard: "Asked to predict the outcome of the Middle East crisis, Mr. Clinton smiled ingenuously and confessed: 'I don't know, I really don't know.' The entire audience, which included the mayor of Guangzhou and 300 invited foreign and Chinese guests, burst out laughing."

Man knows not his time

Sam Snead has played his final round. The golf legend known for his straw hats, homespun humor, and near-perfect swing died just a few days before his 90th birthday. Raised in the Depression, Mr. Snead taught himself golf playing barefoot in the backwoods of western Virginia. He started with clubs he formed from used buggy whips and discarded iron heads. He and his father carved a driver from the root and trunk of a swamp maple tree. The champion later said those clubs helped him develop the timing and rhythm of his swing. "His hands looked like they were born to have a golf club in them," two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange said. Mr. Snead drove to California with only $300 and joined the PGA Tour in 1937. For the next 23 years, he would win at least one tournament every year on tour (except one). He first won a sanctioned tournament in 1936, the last in 1982. He won 81 times on the PGA Tour, 11 more than Jack Nicklaus.

Out and about

Teachers in California's Hayward Unified School District may talk about coming out of the closet, but parents with moral objections can't have their kids opt out of the discussion. The district, located between San Francisco and San Jose, approved a unanimous resolution saying teachers may openly discuss homosexuality (including their own lifestyles). The Washington Times' Ellen Sorokin reported that officials claim state law requires such a rule-and that it promotes tolerance for gay students and teachers.

Midlife crisis

Title IX has turned 30. This law requires schools receiving federal money to provide equal opportunities for men and women. But instead of expanding opportunities for women, the law has restricted them for men. George Will, writing in Newsweek, says Title IX is responsible for the demise of 400 men's athletic teams. Mr. Will said men care more about playing sports and thus receive more attention, but feminists will not accept this: "Colleges must not just satisfy women's demands for sports, they must create demands. Until it is created, statistical proportionality often can be achieved only by cutting men's teams."


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