- The Washington Times - Monday, June 20, 2005

Let dads be dads

“Child support can make men honest” (June 14, Nation) was a fine piece of anti-male propaganda. Nowhere in the article is it mentioned that men have no reproductive rights and that the decision whether to carry a pregnancy to term is completely a women’s choice.

Men do not have “the pill,” and they do not have a “choice” as to whether or not they want to be parents if a woman lies to them about using contraception. You know what they call men who believe a woman when she says “I can’t get pregnant”? Daddy, father, pop, papa — and my favorite is “the idiot who is going to supplement my income by 20 percent for the next 20 years.”

You may believe that child support makes men honest, but in fact, it is a huge incentive for women to be deceptive, even to the point of falsely claiming paternity.

However, a lot of men are wising up that 40 percent of the time when a man chooses to “commit” to a woman and have children it is a one-way ticket to financial ruin, borderline destitution, possible incarceration and separation from his children.

When the child-support goon squad is busy jailing, garnishing and crushing poor men, a message is being sent: Only fools have children. Let’s see how long our country lasts punishing men for being dads. Can we continue to survive with our birthrate falling? Is this not the root cause of an impending cutback in Social Security?

The article would have been very acceptable as an Op-Ed column but calling it a news story is a sad mischaracterization. The article was strewn with gross assumptions of motivations and demographics based upon a few statistics.

DREW TAGGART

Kohler, Wis.

Aiding or abetting?

Nat Hentoff’s “Sudan’s atrocities in Darfur” (Op-Ed, Monday) reports on the continuing genocide sponsored by the Sudanese government against black farmers. There is no question that this ongoing crime against humanity needs to end, and Mr. Hentoff challenges the Bush administration and Congress to act. While I, too, join the urgent chorus of those who want to end this massacre, my appeal is much broader.

We all know that the United Nations is ineffective in settling disputes. By the time the United Nations agrees on what to do, there won’t be any black farmers left in Darfur to protect because they all will have been murdered. Besides, sending U.N. peacekeepers to Darfur is not the right thing to do based on their recent history of rape in the Congo.

Instead, how about calling on those nations unwilling to send troops to the Middle East to send them to Darfur? Aren’t these nations even more culpable than we are, given that their armed forces aren’t stretched thin and could be dispatched to Darfur?

Mr. Hentoff refers to the genocide that occurred in Rwanda and blames Bill Clinton, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the “world” for not acting. It’s time that the “world” was called to account by name. Where are French, German, Canadian, Spanish, Russian and Chinese governments (among many others), and why aren’t they sending troops to Darfur?

Are they using their membership in the United Nations and their insistence that it be the sole arbiter of disputes to do nothing? It certainly seems so to me.

RICHARD W. RESSLER

North Olmsted, Ohio

Pros and cons of CAFTA

Rep. Tom Davis’ Wednesday Op-Ed column, “CAFTA and democracy,” was yet another example of misleading rhetoric masquerading as a balanced assessment of the trade agreement. In monitoring U.S. and Latin American relations, we at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs have been unable to find a single reference linking Mr. Davis to the region over a period of 30 years — a fact that prompts us to question his expertise on the matter.

In fact, Mr. Davis is partially correct that the United States stands to benefit from increased market access to the Central American and Dominican economies — although his acceptance of self-serving White House data that the Central American Free Trade Agreement will increase U.S. exports by $4 billion in the pact’s first year is wildly optimistic.

CAFTA nations, which enjoy duty-free access to the United States for nearly all of their exports, will experience just a minimal decrease in corresponding U.S. tariffs. While the United States tosses these peanuts to its neighbors, Central America will have to give up average tariffs of 10 percent on U.S. goods entering its markets. This, along with a decrease in U.S. purchasing power because of a weakening dollar, means that CAFTA will not be able to create the incredible economic boom in Central America that Mr. Davis predicts.

Instead, CAFTA is likely to weaken these vulnerable economies, which will be inundated by U.S.-subsidized agricultural products, a flood that will drown their all-important agricultural sectors. Let us recall that NAFTA — the model on which CAFTA was based — was responsible for 1.5 million agricultural job losses in Mexico, according to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. A similar impact on Central America’s fragile labor markets would register a devastating blow.

Without spurring economic growth, CAFTA will do nothing to solve the multitude of social problems Mr. Davis claims the agreement will address. He asks, “Want to curb the still-steady stream of illegal drugs to American streets? … Want to begin to ebb the growing flow of illegal immigrants from Central America?” His answer, “Pass CAFTA,” is ludicrous. If anything, NAFTA, which is an immensely larger trade bloc than CAFTA will ever be, has failed to cure any of these ills, as highlighted by a report in the same edition of The Washington Times showing that annual illegal immigration has increased significantly since NAFTA’s passage in 1994.

Additionally, drugs available on U.S. streets as well as drug-related violence have increased drastically, as evidenced by the recent eruption of violence in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico (on the U.S. border). CAFTA provides no additional protections to correct these flaws in NAFTA, and it will not be, as Mr. Davis maintains, a silver bullet for the region’s problems. Rather, it is little better than a giveaway to U.S. agro-industries and their Washington congressional lobbyists, with only marginal benefits for beleaguered Central American countries. Why else would the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce nastily threaten Republican legislators with financial repercussions if they dare to exercise their judgments and vote against CAFTA?

JOSEPH TAVES

Research associate

Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Washington

Taxes, jobs and deficits

In his Friday Commentary column, “A tale of two tax cuts,” Jack Kemp wrote, “Cutting tax rates in the right way clears jobs and boosts economic revenues.”

What about the deficit? Bill Clinton raised taxes on the rich. This led to a budget surplus and the lowest unemployment in 30 years.

President Bush cut taxes. This led to record deficits, a recession and a jobless “recovery.” As an unemployed person, I have not recovered.

Twenty-four years ago, Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts, for which Mr. Kemp was largely responsible, led to the highest unemployment since the Great Depression and a tripling of the national debt.

Republicans like high unemployment and budget deficits. A high rate of unemployment means employers can keep employees without paying them very much. Budget deficits make it difficult for the Democrats to fund programs to help their constituents. When lower-income people conclude that the Democrats do not help them economically, they usually stop voting or they vote Republican because of social issues.

JOHN ENGELMAN

Wilmington, Del.


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