- The Washington Times - Friday, January 19, 2007

Educational largess

Brian Riedl reveals the superficiality, even cynical nature of the Democrats’ claim to reduce the cost of college by a slight reduction in student loan interest rates (“Unaffordable student loan bill,” Commentary, Friday).

He points out that the average debt is $17,500 per debtor, and the current payment amounts to $114 per month. This, of course, must be balanced against the more than $1 million increase in the debtor’s lifetime earnings attributed to his or her education.

It still has not occurred to most of the public that every time Congress subsidizes education, universities ignore reforming themselves and instead suck up the money. The 529 plan is one of the biggest subsidies around.

This plan provides a subsidy to a small segment of the population, which then is recouped by the universities for unnecessary expansion and CEO — university president — salaries, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Because of the phenomenal subsidies, today’s universities are among the most stagnant, least innovative segments of the U.S. economy, and apparently that situation will continue.

In comparison, you might note that computers seem to get cheaper every year, as do most other appliances, and, believe it or not, the cost of an automobile seems to have remained relatively flat.

As a start to reform, Congress might at least pass legislation that would shine some light on how educational largess is being spent. I propose that all major universities file a 10-K annual financial report once a year — just like corporations — to expose the massive cash flows to which they have grown accustomed.

This would be a first step toward real reform.



Paying the price

In remarks made to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Sen. Barbara Boxer said, “Who pays the price? I’m not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old and my grandchild is too young. You’re not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, within immediate family. So, who pays the price? The American military and their families…” (“White House rips Boxer over Rice,” Page 1, Saturday).

Based on public information on Douglas Boxer, the son of Mrs. Boxer, I estimate his age to be between 38 and 42. The enlistment age for service in the Army was raised recently to 42, so if Mr. Boxer, who has never served in the military, had any national patriotism, he would do his patriotic duty and enlist now in the Army.

However, he will not serve in the military because it is quite evident there is no patriotism in the Boxer family. Mrs. Boxer was right that she would not pay a personal price, but it isn’t because her son is too old (he can enlist), it is because she is a senator and there is a lack of respect for the military.

Mrs. Boxer’s comments to Miss Rice were not just outrageous, they were ignorant and discourteous to her, plus denigrating and a slap at the men and women who volunteer to defend this country and, yes, the right of the senator to “free speech,” even if the speech carries a loathing, insolent, repulsive, cruel and rude tone.

We Americans should listen carefully to the speech of liberals. Just as they have double standards, they also use doublespeak. They say what their audience wants to hear, mostly rhetoric they have no intention of honoring but use for the purpose of getting elected. Mrs. Boxer may think she was “speaking truth to power,” but because liberals have no truth, she missed by a long shot.


Fredericksburg, Va.

Still waiting

Much to his credit, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke used an appearance before the Senate Budget Committee to echo and reinforce the views of his esteemed predecessor, Alan Greenspan, warning of the potential fiscal calamity to come in entitlement programs that threaten to break the back of our national economy (“Retiring boomers may hurt economy,” Business, Friday). In noting that rising health-care and Social Security spending could create a “vicious cycle” of rising debt and interest payments and that we are currently in a period of “calm before the storm,” Mr. Bernanke commanded the attention and agreement of many senators.

The question is whether Mr. Bernanke’s reasoned activism will have any significant effect and cause our leaders to change our ruinous path of spending the nation into oblivion. The past is the best predictor of the future, and using that gauge, it is clear that Mr. Bernanke is wasting his breath.

The nation will certainly not slow its spending path as we look to our big-government, profligate-spending president and his “fiscally-responsible” Republican Party, which squandered its monopoly control of the federal government to turn surpluses into massive deficits as far as the eye can see.

The United States is likely to follow its disastrous pattern of waiting until we reach a full-blown crisis to act. This time, given the magnitude of the fiscal meltdown, it may be too late.


Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

The Vatican and WWII

Cardinal Miloslav Vlk’s comment that the Catholic Church “has its own means and methods to cope with mistakes,” as quoted in the article “Warsaw archbishop not first to aid communists” (World, Sunday) is merely a euphemism for coverups and denials of misdeeds, sadly reminiscent of past Vatican policy regarding crimes committed by Catholic clergy. Regardless of whether the crime was a collaboration with communist spy networks, participation in crimes of genocide in the Holocaust or rampant child molestation in the United States, who in his or her right mind can still believe that the Catholic Church will police itself and fairly re-examine its misdeeds?

In World War II Yugoslavia, the Catholic clergy in Croatia participated fully in the genocide of hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews and Romany and helped plunder or raze 800 Orthodox churches and every Jewish religious or community building under their control. More than 60 years later, the families of the victims are still suing the Vatican for those crimes, for which the Vatican denies any knowledge or responsibility and will not even open up its archives to scholars. The notion put forward in your article (by Catholic clergy, of course) that the Catholic Church can be trusted to research its past crimes insults the intelligence of the public and mocks the memory of the victims. Only the stiffest legal and financial penalties from outside will ever alter that institution’s mind-set.



Jasenovac Research Institute

Brooklyn, N.Y.

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