Choice Now

Gender Equity: Political Feminism Goes to School,” by Lydia Percival Meuret, Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, http://www.cblpolicyinstitute.org/gender.htm.

Saint Juan Diego Activity,” by Sr. Elizabeth Ann, S.J.W, http://www.catholichomeschooling.com/curr/juandiego.htm, Heroes of Virtue: A Timeline-Manual of New World Saints and Blesseds, 2000

Politically Correct Math=Innumerate Children,” by Wendy McElroy, American Partisan, http://www.zetetics.com/mac/partisan/031800.htm, 18 March 2000,

Lessons from Vermont: 132-Year-Old Voucher Program Rebuts Critics,” by Libby Sternberg, CATO Institute, http://www.cato.org/pubs/briefs/bp-067es.html, 10 September 2001.

Lessons from MLK: The school-choice battle gets intense,” by Casey Lartigue, Jr., CATO Institute, http://www.cato.org/research/articles/lartigue-030611.html, 11 June 2003.

Choice Struggles On,” by Clint Bolick, National Review, http://www.edreform.com/index.cfm?fuseAction=document&documentID=1872&sectionID=37&NEWSYEAR=2004, 11 October 2004.

Evolution Sticker Shock,” by Will Wilkinson, “CATO Institute, http://www.cato.org/dailys/12-15-04.html, 15 December 2004.

First of All …,” by “Thomas,” tdaxp, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2004/12/15/still_better_than_tunisia_.html, 15 December 2004.

A poster named “Thomas” criticized the Still Better than Tunisia post…

“First of all we need to take the statistics you mentioned into account. We don’t pay teachers enough to get people who major in these subjects to teach them. They can make more money elsewhere.

We don’t specialize enough, but vouchers won’t solve this. All vouchers do is shift the problem. If you give some kids vouchers you’re just letting the others suffer. If you give all kids vouchers nothing changes because the poor can only afford those schools where the voucher pays for the entire tuition.

Our educational system does struggle, but as rosy a picture as is painted by vouchers, they just don’t make sense unless your only concern is making money off of a necessary thing for a society like education.

There’s a number of issues here. Clearly teacher salary isn’t the only variable, because Catholic schools (which pay teachers markedly less than public schools) show better test results. And the local gocery store is a for-profit enterprise, so clearly “making money of a necessary thing” isn’t necessarily bad. And vouchers aren’t perfect, because they mostly discriminate against home-schoolers. But there’s some things that are pretty clear.

First, its important to realize that we do have a problem. We have stagnated, and it aggrevates America’s racial problem

A collection of the facts reveals that, according to Education Week’s annual survey “Quality Counts,” 55 percent of blacks and 53 percent of Hispanics graduate from high school, compared to 76 percent of whites. While 34 percent of white 8th graders achieve at the proficient level on the math portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, only 5 percent of blacks and 10 percent of Hispanics do so. According to the Koret Task Force, which released a report as a follow-up to the landmark 1983 study, “A Nation at Risk,” reports: “U.S. education outcomes measured in many ways, show little improvement since 1970.”

and

“Sadly, the best thing going for the school-choice movement is the abysmal and declining quality of public education, particularly for minority children. Fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, the racial academic gap suggests we are nowhere close to achieving true equality of educational opportunity. Nearly 50 percent of black and Hispanic students drop out of high school, and 27 percent of all 20- to 29-year-old black men who dropped out are in jail. Despite high attrition rates, the average black high-school senior achieves at a level four academic years behind the average white senior — a gap that has increased by one-third over the past decade.

The most important consequence of school choice is that it forces accountability.

“School-voucher programs have shown the potential to close the racial academic gap by between one-fourth and one-third over four years. Perhaps more significant, competitive pressure from school-choice programs forces public schools to buck union pressure and adopt long-overdue reforms. Harvard economist Caroline Hoxby has found that public schools consistently improve when faced with competition from viable school-choice programs.

We accept this in higher education all the time. America has the best colleges in the world. We rarely accept this in primary or secondary schools. And we’re treading water above Tunisia.

Fortunately, school choice is an old and tested idea that has worked very well.

For more than a century, Vermont has operated a viable and popular voucher system in 90 towns across the state. During the 1998–99 school year, the state paid tuition for 6,505 students in kindergarten through 12th grade to attend public and private schools. Families chose from a large pool of public schools and more than 83 independent schools including such well-known academies as Phillips Exeter and Holderness.

Another benefit of school choice is that it prevents a lot of societal protests. Consider the recent bruhaha over Creationism in the classroom.

When ninth graders in Cobb County, Georgia grudgingly withdraw from their backpacks copies of Biology, by Kenneth Miller and Joseph Levine, they are faced with an “advisory” sticker hinting at dark forces at work within. It reads:

“This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.”

The sticker is there because the Cobb County school board put it there. The American Civil Liberties Union has sued. Why make a federal case of it?

But the Cobb County controversy is not really about the merits of the theory of evolution, or whether all the alternatives are, as the ACLU argues, motivated by religious faith. The bigger fight is about who gets to impose their beliefs on whom. It’s just the latest symptom of a deeper illness that necessarily afflicts a system of publicly provided education.

Public school boards and curriculum committees are like menu boards for our children’s minds. Isn’t what we teach our children more important than what we feed them? Bitter and divisive conflict over curriculum is inevitable. Miller and Levine’s Biology is to creationists what pork is to Muslims. Getting a Cobb County sticker with your biology book is like getting a little note with your pork chop: “Warning: Not Halal.”

The question we should be asking is not whether we should be worried about stickers on textbooks, but, rather, why we do education this way in the first place. We live in an incredibly diverse society, and there’s no way we’re all going to agree, even if some of us really are right about the best way to do things. Suppose you knew with absolute certainty that there was one objectively best diet. Would that justify forcing shrimp down unwilling throats? Why treat schools differently?

Granted, in a world where parents can choose what to say children, some tots may be exposed to horrors such as

1. Juan Diego’s _______________ name was “The Eagle Who Speaks”.

a. Spanish
b. Christian
c. Aztec
d. middle

But compared to math assignements such as

“A. If math were a color, it would be __, because __. B. If it were a food, it would be __, because __. C. If it were weather, it would be __, because __.”

And bizarre counter-factual text-book gender theories

So how widespread is this self-righteous trifling with our public school curricula? Increasingly, “gender equity” approaches are being introduced into every nook and cranny of our educational system. An an example, consider California’s guidelines for review of textbooks (60):

1) Illustrations must contain approximately equal proportions of men and women
2) In the representation of each profession, including parent, men, and women, must be shown in equal numbers
3) The contributions of men and women to developments in history or achievements in art or science must appear in equal numbers
4) Mentally and physically active, creative, problem-solving roles, and success or failure in these roles, must be divided evenly between males and females
5) The number of traditional and nontraditional activities engaged in by characters of both sexes must be approximately even

(You know, because there’s as many male as female elementary school teachers. And because so many women were famous artists in the Renaissance, because Europe wasn’t sexist at all. And women naturally have great upper-body strength. And no activities actually break down along traditional lines anymore. )

And life-science theories so insane they are medically dangerous

The Clearinghouse also suggests decreasing laboratory exercises involving the killing of animals or giving treatment that may be perceived as “particularly harsh.” They even wonder “if this laboratory is traditionally included in introductory biology. . .precisely because it serves as an initiation rite to discourage the students who feel too much empathy with animals from becoming biology majors,” (17).

The funny part is, absent our return to the stone ages, American education actually can’t get any worse.

That’s also the sad part.

Republic of Isolation

Paris is the City of Blight for culture-shocked Japanese: report,” AGF, http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/afp/francejapanhealth, 13 December 2004 (from Wordpark)

The other day, an entry was how Germans are complaining that they can’t integrate immigrants. The French have a similar problem.

PARIS (AFP) – A strange illness has descended on Japanese living in Paris, tipping many of them in a state of profound culture shock after realizing their ideals about the French capital were unrealistic, a study said.

More than a 100 expatriates a year are sinking into a state called “the Paris syndrome” which is characterized by feelings of persecution or suicidal tendencies, according to the mental health facilities of city hospitals, according to a study in the Liberation newspaper said.

Most of the rest is prattle. Europe is xenophobic. Too staid to work, still too rich to want to work, too scared of foreigners to let others work, Europe continues to sink into its isolation. With Japanese immigrants, one can make fun of the problem. Highlighting the much more catastrohpic effects of isolating Muslim immigrants, such as the street violence and synagogue burnings, might be too close to actual news.

I was going to end with a cheap shot accusing old Europeans of racism, then thought better of it. Then I read

Many of those feeling victimized by the experience are Japanese women.

“They are, in general, young ladies who have been spoiled and protected. Ill-prepared for Western freedom, they often go off the rails,” the head of the French association Young Japan, Bernard Delage, said

Racist and sexist in one neat package. Way to go France!

Left-Right Drug Imperialism

College Fails in Bid to Grow Marijuana,” by Donald G. McNeil, Jr., New York Times, 14 December 2004, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/14/national/14marijuana.html (from Democratic Underground)

What’s New in the Legal World? A Growing Campaign to Undo the New Deal,” by Adam Cohen, New York Times, 14 December 2004, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/14/opinion/14tue4.html

A related article and op-ed. Both have some baggage, but both deal with a fundemental issue. The first chronicles a big-government crackdown on a state institution. The latter deals with some implications of the counter-attack.

A longstanding request to grow marijuana at the University of Massachusetts so it can be tested for medical uses has been turned down by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The decision was faxed to the university on Friday and made public yesterday by the Marijuana Policy Project, an independent group that favors legalization of marijuana, particularly for medical uses.

Perhaps President Bush can save the states.

…And last month in the Supreme Court – in a case about medical marijuana – the justices found themselves having to decide whether to stand by Wickard.

In that case, two Californians who use marijuana for medical reasons argued that Congress, which passed the Controlled Substances Act, did not have the constitutional power to stop them. To pass a law, Congress needs a constitutional hook, and the Controlled Substances Act relied on one of the most important ones, the Commerce Clause, which authorizes Congress to “regulate Commerce … among the several States.” The Californians argued that their marijuana did not involve interstate commerce because it never left their state.

Cohen mentions the catastrophic effect FDR had for freedom and states rights

That is where Wickard v. Filburn comes in. Roscoe Filburn was a farmer who argued that his wheat crop should not fall under federal production quotas because much of it was consumed on his own farm. The Supreme Court held that even if that wheat did not enter interstate commerce, wheat grown for use on a farm altered supply and demand in the national market. The decision gave Congress broad power to regulate things that are located in one state, like factories and employer-employee relationships.

The effects of states rights conservatives have already been great.

Some leading conservatives want the court to overturn Wickard and replace it with a pair of decisions from the 1800’s that one brief filed in the case said would return “Commerce Clause jurisprudence to its settled limits prior to the New Deal.” That would be a bold move, but the court has already been heading down this path. In recent years, it has struck down the Gun-Free School Zones Act and a crucial part of the Violence Against Women Act for exceeding Congress’s power.

He courageously exposes right-wing hyprocricy

It may be, however, that the justices are quicker to limit Congress’s power when it does things they don’t like (like gun regulation) than when it does things they do (like drug regulation). They may be waiting for a more congenial case.

But then engages in some of his own

If the Supreme Court drifts rightward in the next four years, as seems likely, it could not only roll back Congress’s Commerce Clause powers, but also revive other dangerous doctrines. Before 1937, the court invoked “liberty of contract” to strike down a Nebraska law regulating the weight of bread loaves, which kept buyers from being cheated, and a New York law setting a maximum 10-hour workday. Randy Barnett, the law professor who represented the medical marijuana users, argues in a new book that minimum wage laws infringe on “the fundamental natural right of freedom of contract.”

??? A perfectly good editorial, then it degenerates into fearmongering. States rights means rights for the state. Let the several united States decide their drug policies. Let them decide their leaf-weighing policies. This is the reason that Alabama, with some of the stricted anti-drug laws in the country, helped defend California in the medical marijuana case.

The federal imperialist can be right wing or left wing. He can be FDR or John Ashcroft. Federal imperialisms destroys the civic life of states.

In its order, drug agency said the lone government-licensed marijuana farm, operated by the University of Mississippi, grew enough for researchers. It said that 18 medical studies using the drug had been approved since 2000.

But Dr. Lyle E. Craker, the professor of plant biology at the University of Massachusetts who applied for the license three years ago, said researchers complained that the government’s marijuana was weak and that it was hard to get permission to use it.

“We wanted to have a source independent from the government and with a known potency so doctors can run clinical trials,” he said. Researchers would still have needed D.E.A. permission to work with the drug.

It also destroys lives.

Derbyshire’s Homophobia

A Dance to the (Disco) Music of Time: A review of Homosexuality and Civilization, by Louis Crompton,” by John Derbyshire, The Claremont Institute, http://www.claremont.org/writings/crb/spring2004/derbyshire.html, 6 April 2004.

An interview with John Derbyshire,” Collected Miscellany, http://collectedmiscellany.com/archives/000047.php, 11 November 2003.

Derbyshire Interview Follow-Up,” Collected Miscellany, http://collectedmiscellany.com/archives/000058.php, 11 November 2003.

Here to Stay: We’re here, we’re mildly and tolerantly homophobic, get used to it!” by John Derbyshire, National Review Online, http://www.nationalreview.com/derbyshire/derbyshire200405140857.asp, 14 May 2004

In the middle of a fascinating interview on Wall Street, novel writing, and mathematics, a fascinating prediction and statement

This is probably going to happen to me sooner or later, actually. I am not very careful about what I say, having grown up in the era before Political Correctness, and never having internalized the necessary restraints. I am a homophobe, though a mild and tolerant one…

Defending his views in a follow-on essay

I described myself as “a mild, tolerant homophobe.” This means that I do not like homosexuality, and I think it is a net negative for society. As a conservative, inclined to give the benefit of the doubt (when there is doubt) to long-established practices, I cannot help note that there has never been a human society, at any level of civilization, that has approved egalitarian (that is, adult-adult) homosexuality. Male-male buggery has been proscribed in every society that ever existed. I am inclined to think that there are good reasons for these universal prohibitions. To say the least of it, male homosexuality is very unhealthy–much more so than, for example, cigarette smoking. A lot of the people who howl “Homophobe!” at me whenever I write anything about this topic are people who have to swallow a bucket of pills eight times a day just to stay alive. Is it any wonder I have trouble taking them seriously?

Earlier in a book review, Derbyshire questions the meaning of homosexuality

His topic is, of course, homosexuality, and this raises a number of problems right away. What is homosexuality? The term is currently used in reference to those who find erotic fulfillment only with coevals of their own sex. A great deal of Crompton’s book, however, deals with different matters. Much of it is about ephebophilia, or boy-love, a phenomenon whose connection to homosexuality is unclear. Indeed, many present-day homosexualist propagandists insist hotly that there is no connection at all.

And Derbyshire quotes Sir Kenneth Dover as writing

If Spartans in the fourth century B.C. unanimously and firmly denied that their erastai and eromenoi [i.e., senior and junior partners in an ephebophilic bond] ever had any bodily contact beyond a clasping of right hands, it was not easy for an outsider even at the time to produce evidence to the contrary, and for us it is impossible.

Further in the review, he breaks the situation down into four kinds

Reading Professor Crompton’s book, I found that the most useful way of thinking about his topic was as a sort of dance—a “dance to the music of time,” as it were. (Apologies to the late Anthony Powell.) The participants in this dance are not individual human beings but invariant components of the human personality, found in all times and places. Principal among those components I would list the following:

* Homosexual orientation. Some small proportion of people find erotic fulfillment only with members of their own sex.

* Ephebophilia. Some much larger proportion of adult men can be sexually aroused by contemplating the bodies of well-formed adolescent boys. Overt expression of this attraction has been approved in some societies (or among some social strata in some societies—this seems to be controversial), where it has led to open romantic bonding between adult men and boys. Some similar, but much less historically significant, phenomenon is found among women.

* Faute de mieux homosexuality. In societies, or institutions in societies—monasteries, prisons, etc. —where social custom or institutional imperative severely constrains access to the opposite sex, some large proportion of adults, perhaps a majority, will find erotic satisfaction, or at least release, with members of their own sex, when there are not strong institutional prejudices against this (as there are, for instance, in elite combat units of the U.S. military).

* Homophobia. (Note: This ugly and etymologically stupid word has entered general currency, so I use it here for convenience, though under protest.) The contemplation of homosexuality induces negative emotions—disgust and contempt, mostly, but also sometimes indignation, anger, and hatred—in many people.

The story told in Homosexuality and Civilization is in large part the story of a long dance among these four partners, with sometimes this one, sometimes that one taking the lead. The well-known proclivities of the ancient Greeks, for example, arose mainly from the union of the second and third of the factors I have listed.

But perhaps this is fiddling while Rome burns

My personal bet is that homosexuality will disappear before homophobia does — possibly quite soon, in a generation or so. Here’s my logic: One of the least controversial things you can say about homosexuality is this: Practically nobody wants his kids to grow up homosexual. Some people mind the prospect more than others, but practically nobody welcomes it — not even, I should think, homosexuals. (One of the rare exceptions is Sharon Osbourne, who recently remarked: “My only regret in life is that none of my children are gay.” I doubt any very large number of Americans take Mrs. Osbourne as a parenting role model, though.)

Now, the trend in current research on homosexuality, if I have understood it correctly, suggests that the homosexual orientation is indeed mostly congenital — the result of events in the mother’s womb, or in early infancy, with perhaps some slight genetic predisposition. The thing is, in short, mainly biochemical — part of a person’s physical make-up.

Supposing this is true, let us conduct a wee thought experiment — admittedly a fanciful one. A young woman in the late stages of pregnancy, or carrying a small infant, shows up at her doctor’s office. “Doctor,” she asks, “is there some kind of test you can do to tell me if my child is likely to become a homosexual adult?” The doctor says yes, there is. “And,” the woman continues, “suppose the test is positive — would that be something we can fix? I mean, is there some sort of medical, or genetic, or biochemical intervention we can do at this stage, to prevent that happening?” The doctor says yes, there is. “How much does the test cost? And supposing it’s positive, how much does the fix cost?” The doctor says $50, and $500. The woman takes out her checkbook.

Of course this is not happening anywhere in the U.S.A. right now. If my understanding of the state of current research is correct, however, it might very well be happening on a daily basis ten years from now.

Thus ending the first well-written defenses of homophobia I have read.

Republic of Hate

As Holidays Approach, French Find New Ban on Religious Symbols Cuts Both Ways,” William J. Kole, Associated Press, http://ap.tbo.com/ap/breaking/MGB720IZO2E.html, 13 December 2004.

France continues her anti-Catholic, anti-Islam, anti-God bigotry.

PARIS (AP) – They arrived as they do every December: gaily wrapped gifts destined for children at a kindergarten in rural northern France.

But this year, teachers unwrapped a few, took a look and sent all 1,300 packages back to City Hall. The presents were innocent, but strictly speaking, illegal: seasonal chocolates shaped like Christian crosses and St. Nicholas.

As Christmas approaches, France is awakening to the realization that a new law banning conspicuous religious symbols at schools – a measure used mainly to keep Muslim girls from wearing traditional Islamic head scarves to class – can cut both ways.

“It’s an unhealthy political affair. Absolutely regrettable,” said Andre Delattre, mayor of the northern town of Coudekerque-Branche, which has shipped the traditional chocolates to local schools for 11 years.

“What’s the point? It’s the children who are being penalized for this difference of opinion,” he said. “They’ve been deprived of a festive moment.”

The law, which took effect in September, bans overt symbols such as Islamic head scarves, Jewish skullcaps and large Christian crosses at public schools.

In the United States, religious expression is encouraged. The U.S. Justice Department recently intervened to protect a Muslim schoolgirl’s right to wear the head scarf. In France, they would make her a criminal.

No wonder our ancestors fled that continent of death and decline.

Hat tip Democratic Underground.

Fallujah

Marines clear out Fallujah
Sharon Behn
The Washington Times
http://www.washtimes.com/world/20041213-123025-1824r.htm

FALLUJAH, Iraq — Marines yesterday cleared bodies from buildings at the scene of their biggest battle since the fall of Baghdad, securing this former insurgent stronghold for the return of thousands of civilians and upcoming elections.
But six weeks before the historic vote, a U.S. official said, fewer than 1 percent of eligible Iraqis have responded to a voter-registration drive, forcing authorities to look for other ways to build up voter lists.

A city of geniuses. First, support an insurgency against the world’s only superpower and 80% of your fellow countrymen. Then, kill American civilians. Then, fight an idiotic battle which ends, predictably, with thousands and thousands of casualties. After all, guerilla wars are meant for holding ground. Then, bitterly refuse the send delegates to represent you.

Great job, guys. Fallujah: City of Geniuses.

Hat tip Drudge Report.

China Detains Dissidents

China Detains 3 Who Criticized Government,” by Joseoph Kahn, New York Times, 14 December 2004, Online at http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/14/international/asia/14china.html. (Linked to on the Drudge Report)

China is modernizing country. It has gone a long way since Mao. Its economy is very free and the people are connecting themselves to the Internet. Recently, China launched very high powered cell phone transmissions into North Korea, allowing dissidents to make cheap and hard-to-trace phone calls to the outside world and one another. And then you hear about something like this:

BEIJING, Dec. 13 – The Chinese police on Monday afternoon detained three leading intellectuals who have been critical of the government, apparently stepping up a campaign to silence public dissent.

Yu Jie and Liu Xiaobo, literary figures, and Zhang Zuhua, a political theorist, were detained in raids at their homes, relatives and friends said. Mr. Yu’s relatives were handed a warrant that said he was suspected of “participating in activities harmful to the state,” said his wife, Liu Min.

The detentions were the latest in a string of arrests and official harassment of journalists, writers and scholars who have spoken out against government policies or written articles or essays that officials have deemed damaging.

Since President Hu Jintao replaced Jiang Zemin as China’s military chief in September, leaving Mr. Hu in full command of China’s government, ruling party and army, analysts say the political environment has become more repressive. The scope for discussing sensitive topics in the state-run media has decreased, they said, while the authorities appear intent on punishing people who violate unwritten rules about the limits on free speech.

China is still a one-party dictatorship. China bans independent churches of all types. China has onerous censorship laws.

The Middle Kingdom has come a long way, but there is still a long way to go. The only long term solution is to keep increasing the Chinese people’s economic liberty and connectedness, and wait out the old regime.

*sigh*

Business for the People’s Party

An interesting editorial over at My Side of the Story

The whole thing is worth a read, but one paragraph stands out

Republicans, because of the lions without any courage Democrats, have been able to walk through the Heartland of America and convince people that if they want to succeed they have to sell themselves to business. Now, this is not intended to be a Marxist docrtine, but its the truth. Where were the Democrats? Why weren’t we out there telling people that the purpose of business is to provide for them, not vice versa. Business should work for us. That was the point of Unions; to get business to work for us. The more money each and every person, not just the wealthy have, the more they can buy. The more people buy, the more businesses can hire and the more products they can make.

This is why Bill Clinton was a great President, and how the current Democratic Party is letting him down.

Bill Clinton’s greatest achievement was cementing pro-business pro-growth policies as American policies, and breaking open doors for globalization. Under Clinton we achieved the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization, all with low spending and balanced budgets. Mistakes were made, some of them quite severe, but it is hard to quibble with President Clinton’s handling of the economy.

Thank God in the 1990s we had WJC instead of FDR as President. Roosevelt was a terrible president. Inaugerated before Hitler took power, he fiddled while fascism rose in Europe and Asia. Responsible for the Great Depression (it ended in 1932, until his increasingly insane policies restarted it worse than ever), it only ended when we enslaved (drafted) and/or killed-off our excess labor pool in World War II.

Besides (like the Republicans) mostly ignoring al-Qaeda, Clinton’s other legacy is the rise of morality in politics. After Clinton we have two modern and responsible political parties that agree on most economic matters. This leaves only the War and social issues as fields where the electorate can hope to influence party. The electorate is hateful of terrorists, suspicious of gays, and disgusted by late term abortions. Guess which party this helps?

Agriwelfare v. The Peoples

After NAFTA Comes CAFTA: Labor may object to the Central American Free Trade Agreement — but not nearly as much as do the sugar and rice industries,” by Robert B. Reich, American Prospect, 8 December 2004, http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=8918.

Following up both on the “Clinton was a great President” and Chinese textile themes, WJC’s former Labor Secretary comes out in favor of the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

In fact, the real issue surrounding CAFTA isn’t about manufacturing jobs at all. It’s about agriculture commodities like sugar and rice. U.S. sugar producers don’t want CAFTA. They want to keep their generous government subsidies and tariffs that result in sugar prices here being three times what they are on the world market. CAFTA would open the door just a crack to much cheaper sugar imports from Latin America, and America’s sugar barons won’t hear of it.

As to American rice growers — yes, there are American rice growers — they get more than a billion dollars a year in subsidies from Uncle Sam. A billion dollars is more than Nicaragua’s entire national budget. It’s even more than the total market value of all the rice that’s produced in the United States. Unless those subsidies are ended, CAFTA will flood Latin America with U.S. rice so richly subsidized by U.S. taxpayers that Latin America’s own rice-growing farmers will be forced out of business.

So you see, the issue behind CAFTA is really the same one that derailed the Doha round of global trade talks a while back: How to wean big agribusinesses off tariffs and subsidies so poorer nations can sell their food to the rich. To the extent CAFTA is a step in the right direction, it’s a good idea.

George H. W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George W. Bush. Three great Presidents, one great trade policy.

Turkey in Europe

Turkish Premier Slams German Opposition
Deutsche Welle
December 12, 2004
http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,1564,1426240,00.html

At first, a pretty typical story

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out in a Sunday newspaper interview at Germany’s conservative opposition for its drive to torpedo Turkey’s EU membership bid, accusing it of populism.

“Unfortunately, the opposition in Germany seems to believe that it can make domestic politics out of our wish to join the European Union,” Erdogan was quoted by the mass-market Bild am Sonntag newspaper as saying. “I consider that to be a fateful error.”

EU leaders are widely expected to give the go ahead for the start of membership talks with Turkey at a crunch summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, but under tough conditions.

While German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has strongly backed Turkish negotiations toward full membership in the EU, the opposition Christian Union parties reject this goal, calling for a “privileged partnership” with the predominantly Muslim country.

My first reaction? “Germany. Against the Liberation of Iraq. Against the Membership of Turkey. Against Muslims.” Pretty juvenile stuff on both mine and the Fourth Reich’s part, but then I read further:

The paper reported that the Christian Union parties would pass a motion in parliament Monday entitled “Do not close your eyes to the problems with Turkey.”

The document lays out what the opposition views as the dangers posed by Turkey joining the EU including “rise in gangland crime, Islamist threat and terrorist danger” in Germany.

Ah, because immigration problems in Germany are indicative of problems in… Turkey? It’s Germany that has the immigration problem. It’s Germany that’s invited thousands upon thousands of permanent “guest workers” into her borders, and gave them no way to integrate. Until very recently Germany even denied they were immigrants, or could ever be Germans.

As far as melting pots go, Germany is a nightmare version of the United States as it could-have-been. Desperate for workers, but unwilling to ever let the gaijan be “true” Germans. The problem is all on Germany’s end.

Expect the best of the new Germans. Even if his name is Gurkan or Safak.

The tDAxp eXPerience