- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 17, 2002

Clinton apologetics

Monday's editorial, "The Clintonistas' economic reality gap," was misleading. While The Washington Times is free to present its views, it also has the responsibility to do so without resorting to inflammatory rhetoric and unsubstantiated allegations.

The editorial, which focuses on routine revisions to official macroeconomic data for 1992 and 2000, concludes that "there is no evidence" that the Clinton administration unlawfully revised the data for political gain implying a crime may have been committed, nonetheless. Then it states that these revisions benefited Al Gore, implying a motive. If The Times wants to imply criminal allegations, they must be supported with hard facts. Without them, insinuating criminality stoops to the level of smear journalism.

Second, the editorial discusses the recovering economy of 1992 and the slowing economy of 2000. It makes no mention, however, of the record-setting economic expansion that occurred in the intervening years of the Clinton administration. During this period, free trade flourished, unemployment (especially among minorities) dropped and an extraordinary act of bipartisan will balanced the federal budget. The balanced budget reduced the federal debt, allowing more effective monetary policy and virtually nonexistent inflation.

The fiscal policies implemented by the Clinton administration compare especially favorably to our current economic situation. According to an Associated Press study run in The Washington Times on Aug. 7, Republican congressional districts in 2000 spent an average of more than $600 million more federal dollars than Democratic ones in 2000 (compared to $85 million more by Democratic districts in 1994). This binge in Republican spending is exacerbated by a large tax cut passed by the current administration.

Together, these factors have increased the size of government borrowing. Interest on the federal debt cost the Treasury $206 billion in 2001, already the largest federal expense after defense ($299 billion) and Medicare ($219 billion). (Amounts are in 1996 dollars to correct for inflation.) Imagine the permanent tax cut we could afford if government borrowing were less.

Finally, a word about the term "Clintonista." The suffix connotes Central American revolutionaries unilaterally seizing power. Yet President Clinton was twice elected by a sizable plurality of the electorate.



Europe's daydream believers

Is it really surprising that the children and grandchildren of people who believed a signature on a piece of paper signed in Munich in 1938 would stop Adolf Hitler today believe that a signature on a piece of paper (such as the Kyoto Protocol) would stop floods in Europe ("America did it," Page One, Thursday)?



One dead doctor does not negate affirmative action

I was horrified to read Michelle Malkin's column on the death of Patrick Chavis ("The life and death of Patrick Chavis," Commentary, Aug. 9). To use his unfortunate demise as a springboard for her right-wing diatribe against affirmative action was beyond all principles of decency or good taste.

That said, what Mrs. Malkin clearly is implying is that the end of Mr. Chavis' career demonstrates the weakness of the principle of equal opportunity through affirmative action. She also suggests that Mr. Chavis, as a black medical student, was admitted undeservingly through affirmative action to the medical school at the University of California at Davis. Alan Bakke later challenged the program, and the Supreme Court held that quotas were illegal, while also establishing diversity as a compelling state interest.

What Mrs. Malkin fails to acknowledge is that thousands of students of color have attended colleges and universities since the Bakke decision in 1978. With affirmative action, they have successfully graduated and pursued careers that benefited not only themselves, but their communities as well. Witness the accomplishments of Dr. Ben Carson, a celebrated neurosurgeon in Maryland, or Dr. Sampson Davis, Dr. George Jenkins and Dr. Rameck Hunt, who recently released a book ("The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream") about their journeys from the streets of Newark, N.J., to the medical profession.

It is unfortunate that Mr. Chavis will be remembered as a pawn in the war of words over affirmative action. His accomplishments as a successful obstetrician and his failures as a cosmetic surgeon, which led to the revocation of his medical license five years ago, have nothing to do with the continuing importance of affirmative action as a remedy for past discrimination. His life should be examined for what it was: a struggle against the odds, service to the community as an obstetrician and ultimately, a tragedy.


Executive director

Americans for a Fair Chance


The hidden costs of watching TV

Although Sunday's editorial "The inherent costs of HDTV" does not mention it, requiring digital tuners isn't the only way the government is making televisions more expensive. Federal Communications Commission rules enacted last year in compliance with the 1996 Telecommunications Act require that all televisions with screens 13 inches or larger include the V-chip, which can be set to block TV programming based on its rating. The V-chip is supposed to protect children from sex, violence and other content that their parents might deem inappropriate.

The V-chip, like digital tuners, increases TV prices and forces businesses to add a feature that the free market might not have been so quick to demand. The digital tuner is a government-forced innovation, and the V-chip amounts to government-facilitated censorship.

As a general rule, government intervention in business does not benefit consumers, except in the few cases in which the government encourages innovation. In such cases, the public enjoys cleaner air, more efficient cars, and new and safe pharmaceuticals, to name just a few gifts of regulation.

The effect of government regulations on television similarly is a mixed bag: While the V-chip effectively taxes people for a feature of dubious value, digital TV programming may help America maintain its technological edge, even if Europe beat us to higher-definition television many years ago.



No pay-back time

In August 1963, Martin Luther King stood before a crowd of 250,000 persons in our nation's capital to deliver a speech that would unite Americans in achieving his dream that one day "the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood."

Thirty-nine years later, the hustlers and charlatans who pass themselves off as his heirs will converge on the National Mall this weekend, seeking trillions of dollars from the public treasury ("Reparations backers to rally on Mall," Nation, Wednesday). Instead of sitting down and breaking bread with their fellow citizens, they will demand that those fellow citizens write them a check.

Most white Americans feel no personal culpability for slavery nor should they. The descendants of slave owners make up a tiny fraction of the current white population, and even they cannot be held responsible for the sins of their fathers. I, the grandson of a Polish immigrant and the son of a bus driver, do not believe I owe Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, not to mention Michael Jackson and Oprah Winfrey, a dime.

Success in life should be the result of hard work, not racial blackmail. In the case of Holocaust survivors and Americans of Japanese ancestry interned during World War II, we were able to identify the actual people who suffered crimes, or their immediate descendants, within our lifetime. We did not simply select an entire ethnic group and demand that those who had committed no crime pay money to the members of that group.

Blacks suffered under slavery but have since benefited from living in a free society. In fact, the black population's total earned income $543 billion in 2000 is equivalent to the gross domestic product of the world's 11th-largest economy.

The "legacy of slavery" is not the great problem facing blacks today; thus, reparations are not the solution. Blacks are suffering from the legacy of an educational system that continues to imprison them and other minorities in failing schools. March for school choice, not reparations.



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