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January 5, 2000     The Arlington Times
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January 5, 2000

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lnesday, January 5, 2000 OPINION The Arlington Times/The Marysville Globe , B3 Outrider by Garry Wdls Dishonoring Dr. King ohn McCain is trying to live down the fact that he voted in the Senate against a national Martin Luther King Day. That was the way we expected people to dishonor King. But the are not the ones we could expected at all. They are the man's own fami- the past, the Kings tried to get back papers left to others. They have ised the National Park which conducts accu- responsible tours of neighborhood, in order in lucrative theme franchises. They have exorbitantly for any from Dr. King's "I :a Dream" speech. They sued networks and pro- rs who showed clips it. omplain about places on work. Educators find they have to pay for the a speech that was addressed to the nation. It if Mary Lincoln had put a turnstile on the Address, coining money for her descen- every time anyone quoted it. is not done because the Kings lack They have royalties on commercial uses of They have a deal that Dexter King could bring them $50 million with Time for multimedia programs on King. Much of be justified, and should satisfy even the rapacious. But the scramble for money gets intense, not less, as more comes in. best recent evidence of that is well by John J. Miller in National Review. is trying to sell Dr. King's papers -- Christian Leadership collection they can cash in on later, King's own papers ~- to the Library of sition on the taxpayers who maintain the Library of Congress. Some literary figures (Miller cites Ralph Ellison) get royalties on papers in the library. But those papers were given in the first place, not pur- chased; and Ellison was a professional, a writer, not a public figure. Some in Congress, asked to authorize this expendi- ture, feel blackmailed -- as if they will be blamed Time to stand up to as McCain was of dishon- oring King if they do not the King family's submit to his relatives' shameful use of the schemes. After all, Coretta King has branded great man's works, anyone who opposes the family financial deals as complicitous in her hus- band's death: "The same evil forces that destroyed Martin Luther King are now trying to destroy my family." It is time to stand up to the King family's shameful use of the great man's work as their private milch cow. That was proved in a civil suit they brought against a man, Lloyd Jowers, who has claimed that he was in on the conspiracy that killed King and that James Earl Ray was not. The Kings were not after the truth in this suit. They did not call Jowers to the stand -- he is a totally unbelievable figure who has changed stories, told things manifestly refuted by the facts and flunked a lie detector test. They were not try- ing to punish him; they asked only for a $100 fine. " The judge in Tennessee, where the suit was brought, allowed into evidence a TV show of unsworn allegations. The case was ~f.ructured so that no one brought up Jowers' record of lying. Then, having opened a can of worms by winning their $100, the family said they would not pursue the matter further in court. Of course not. They want others to play up $20 million. They even describe this ' the cofispiracy angle for years to come, giving a t " ' ...... 7 heyhad an appraiser Who said then-i the o ortunit to ~har'~e anyope who wants are worth $~0 i~niIlion ................ ,, : ....... :. PP ,.Y - " to use me material m their care to argue for or records of historical figures come to the against the conspiracy. The Kings have said the as gifts, with tax credit for that. This pre- plot includes the FBI, the CIA, the press -- in fact, them for the nation, under the care ofjust about everybody except James Earl Ray. They curators and preservationists. The Kings are have been in negotiation with Oliver Stone for a a $20 million Sale; they want to movie to raise as much interest as his "JFK" did. In copyright for themselves after the sale. The fact, a King-Kennedy parallel is a lucrative conjunc- would get the possession but tion for them. of what is in its care, so the Kings It is interesting that the Kennedy family has triple-dip: They would get the initial pur- not been sleazy in trying to cash in on his name. fee, free custodial care of the papers and Doesn't Dr. King deserve the same respect, from royalties. That is an unparalleled impo- everyone, and especially from his own kin? GUEST EDITORIAL Microsoft lays siege to Washington Hightower house lobbyists, plus ten outside lobbying firms as mercenaries~ Among its hired guns are former law- they come -- the Microsoft~ makers like Republican Vin Weber and Democrats Corporation's personal army, tromp- Vic Fazio and Tom Downey, as well as former tromp-tromping up to Capitol Hill, to Republican Party Chair Haley Barbour, who is espe- ,open a new front in the company's war cially tight with House Speaker Dennis Hastert. its monopoly control over the world of One of the lobbying firms hired by Microsoft is operating systems, tightly connected to House legislative power bro- Microsoft has suffered heavy losses in its ker Tom DeLay, while another firm is plugged into in federal court, where it had Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. an elite battalion of lawyers and acade- Despite this firepower, Bill Gates' troops have to crush its opponents. So, Microsoft made major tactical blunders, such as a heavy- General Bill Gates is nOw re-deploy: handed (and unsuccessful) attempt to gut the the more hospitable battleground of Capitol funding of the very agency that Microsoft is facing hopes his money can overcome the in court. To smooth over such missteps, Gates & rebels. Roll Call newspaper Company also have become major players in the Microsoft agents already have campaign contribution game, liberally throwing Washington's political scene with a money at both Republican and Democratic law- :ieated pacification and propaganda cam- makers. that there's a sense of urgencyI at corpo- This is Jim Hightower saying... Microsoft's to move in the heavy political strategy is, if you can't win in court, buy Congress. and troops. ago, Microsoft had only one Radio talk~show host and author, Jim in Washington. Now, it has eleven in- Hightower is the former Agricultural Commissioner of Texas. a subscription to The Marysville Globe or The Arlington Times you can stay in tune with your community. GLOBE On the Right by W'dliam F. Buckley Jr. Pursuing crime prevention he recent crime report from the Milton Eisenhower people spurred a lot of talk on the subject, but not enough on smothered questions. The Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation did an update on a landmark study by the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence. This study was fired up by President Johnson after the assassi- nation of Martin Luther King in 1968. What it asserted, essentially, Is that the high crime rate in the United States is trace- able to poverty, dispari- ties in income, poor hous- ing and joblessness. So 30 years go by and a great deal has hap- pened, most conspicuous- ly a general elation over the reduced crime rate, especially in homicides. Elliott Currie, most prominently associated with the new report, is a criminologist with the University of California's legal-studies program. He does a pretty neat job of sobering the exultation of those who feel that the fight against crime is sub- stantially won. It is down, in the past seven years, but to conclude that a new age has arrived is on the order of noting, a year after Pompeii was destroyed, that casualties from volcanos had sharply declined. Today's crime rate "we would have said is a disaster when we went to work on that crime report 30 years ago." A key question of the commission was: Would you feel safe walking at night one mile dis- tant from your house? Back then, 31 percent said they'd be afraid to venture that far off. Now the figure is 41 percent, The commission seeks to explain a lot of things. One of them is that we have put in jail a great many people who might commit crimes. This, they seem to be saying, distorts the true picture. Though one.wonders why. If John Jones is in jail , rather than at liberty, he can't commit crimes as regularly as he otherwise might. What the commis- sion is in effect arguing is that too many people are sent'to jail rather than nurtured to stay away from jail, and educated in the ways of avoiding jail. Yes, and should we spend more time on the Ten Commandments when children are young? The commission goes on to remark another anomaly. In the 1980s there was a sharp rise in crime attributable, it transpired, to the wide use of crack cocaine. This drug fostered both an insa- tiable appetite for more of the same and a criminal determination to satisfy that appetite. The crack frenzy ebbed in one of those cyclical turns not eas- ily accounted for. True, some crack users ended up in jail, but others either went off drugs or off that Milton Eisenhower commission's chief enthusiasm is to deplore disparities in wealth. particular drug. The result was a downturn in crime, affecting statistics in ways not welcome by the Pollyannas who thought that the reduction was a tribute to better law enforcement. But we get quickly to the chief enthusiasm of the Milton Eisenhower commission, which is to deplore disparities in wealth. In this, the authors have a problem. Thirty years ago the commission was blaming poverty for the high crime rate. Poverty persists, but we are living, of course, in a his- toric boom, and one register of the commission's findings has to acknowledge that the reduction in crime has to have something to do with the flourishing economy. The job- lessness of 30 years ago is not a feature of life when only 4 percent are unemployed. The commission remarks the increase in firearms (double what they then were, rising to 200 million today), but comes to rest on: inequality. Crime has been exacerbated by a "vast and shameful inequality in income, wealth and opportunity." The report notes that more than one-quarter of U.S. children live in ooverty. What is missing in the report is incisive atten- tion to the causes of poverty. They are several, but one is pronounced, and it has very little to do with the kind of poverty one associates with "The Grapes of Wrath." The principal cause of poverty in America is the rise in the rate of illegitimate births. The commission might usefully have told how many of the children who live in poverty live with a single parent. Having discovered that that is the majority, the commJssion might have remarked that nearly 70 percent of black Americans are born to unmarried mothers, 18 percent of white Americans, and that the prospects not only of poverty, but also of crime and illiteracy, rise by a factor of 600 percent in single-parent households. , The new rich people, silicon millionaires, may be guilty of shameful behavior, but the commis- sion doesn't tell us just what it is that they are doing to increase poverty or to incite crime. It is true that we have doubled the prison population, true also that one-third of young blacks go to jail, certainly true that this is both sad arid deplorable, but unconnected with public policy of the type that permits entrepreneurs to profit from their work. The Milton Elsenhower people have for two generations struggled to make the same old point, which is that the welfare state should expand. They leave Out the question: How is it that since the welfare state began expanding, all the ends they sought -- better education, better behavior -- have been undermined? II Illl I I Ill I I I IIll! Inll I ~ I I II .... GUEST EDITORIAL Social Security:The phony crisis by Mark Weisbrot ention Social Security to anyone under 50 and the most likely response is a knowing smile, followed by, "I don't expect to see any of that money when I retire." If only they knew: Social Security's finances areremarkably solid. So solid, in fact, that we could leave the whole program on automatic pilot for the next 35 years, and everyone would receive their full, promised benefits. Projections beyond 35 years are little more than fortune-telling. But Social Security's Trustees plan for 75 years, so you should know this, too: to make the program sound for the whole 75 years would require additional revenues of less than one percent of our national income. All these are just the official numbers -- from the annual report of Social Security's Trustees. One of the worst things about projecting so far into the science-fiction future is that there is so much uncertainty surrounding the various eco- nomic and demographic assumptions. This makes it all too easy to come up with some kind of financing gap somewhere down the road. This gap, however small it may be relative to future income, is then magnified by Social Security's opponents into a "crisis" that undermines public confidence in the program. That scenario has reappeared this week, with the report of an advisory panel charged with exam- ining the Trustees' economic and demographic projections. The panel has actually recommended lowering the projections for wage and productivity growth, as compared to the numbers put forward four years ago. But the economy has been booming for the last four years. Perhaps they dismiss this recent growth as a fluke- but there is nothingin the record that could justify lowering the projec- tions. Now add this to the mix: there are Wall Street financial firms with a multibillion dollar stake in privatizing Social Security, and they don't mind investing in some think tanks and policy organiza- tions who make it their business to convince peo- ple that the program is in trouble. Then there are the right-wing ideologues in Congress who have never reconciled themselves to America's largest anti-poverW and social insurance program. And many liberals -- including the President, when he was looking for a legacy to displace impeachment -- have found it convenient for their own political reasons to pretend that Social Security needs to be "saved." And of course there are people who hon- estly believe it faces financial problems. So the game goes on, and will probably con- tinueuntil the voters discover the truth: that the only thing we need to do to protect Social Security is to keep Congress from changing the law and cutting benefits. Luckily, that's one battle we're winning -- so far. Mark Weisbrot is co-author, with Dean Baker, of "Social SecuriW: The Phony Crisis," published by University of Chicago Press. Together they direct the Center for Economic'and Policy Research in Washington, D.C.