Work, not welfare
“The United States is a rich nation getting richer. … Reason to celebrate? Not according to those who worry about rising income inequality — the fact that the rich are getting richer faster than the poor are getting richer.
“Rising inequality makes for good political fodder. … Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and is seeking it again in 2008, based his first campaign almost entirely on the contention that we are ‘two Americas, not one: one America that does the work, another America that reaps the reward.’
“Edwards is one of a group of liberal politicians, policy makers and social activists who want to reduce economic inequality through greater taxation and redistribution of wealth. And their plan draws inspiration from a particular academic theory: that inequality is socially destructive because it makes people miserable.
“As a scholar working in the field of public policy, I have long witnessed hand-wringing about the alleged connection between inequality and unhappiness. What first made me doubt this prevailing view was not some new scholarly study but rather that when I questioned actual human beings about it, few expressed any shock and outrage at the enormous wealth of software moguls and CEOs. On the contrary, they tended to hope that their kids might become the next Bill Gates.”
— Arthur C. Brooks, writing on “What Really Buys Happiness?” in the summer 2007 City Journal.
“I haven’t written on this hideous story about dogfighting and the NFL because it seems obvious to me what is wrong about it. In a word: cruelty.
“It’s a vice we don’t talk of much, but it is essentially the aspect of the human psyche that sees a vulnerable person, animal or thing, and exploits that vulnerability with further violence or power. It’s evil. It’s why I despise torture in every form. It is not just the absence of love or respect; it’s the active presence of its opposite. And animals, creatures over which we have near total control or dominion, are more vulnerable to such cruelty than many humans.
“[Michael] Vick is an inhumane bully, an exemplum of cruelty and arrogance. That’s all I have to say.”
— Andrew Sullivan, writing on “Responding to Vick,” Aug. 21 on his Daily Dish blog at the Atlantic
Going the distance
“Going back for a high school class reunion sharpened my focus on certain realities. It was a milestone event for me this past weekend in Griffin, Georgia. … Our class had 181 graduating seniors, 70 of whom returned for this reunion. …
“Marriage is still a central feature of mainstream America: A clear majority of those attending the reunion were married within five years of graduating from high school and remain married to that original spouse — 42 of us.
“An additional three married later and are still married to the same person. Ten were divorced and remarried. Three were widowed and remarried and two were widowed or divorced and remain unmarried. Only one has never married.