Skip to comments.NYT Editorial: Real-World New Year's Resolutions (The Times tries to take off its Unreal-World Hat)
Posted on 12/31/2004 8:53:28 AM PST by OESY
This is the moment when we list our priorities for the new year, counting off the most important social challenges the country faces and the remedies we'd like to see our elected officials adopt. Normally, we urge that all this be accomplished in a spirit of bipartisanship. All that requires a leap of faith that's beyond us this season. Instead, we'd like to pick out a few areas that may be a little lower on the agenda, but where the need is aching and the potential bridges between the parties are already clear and sturdy. All it takes is a few people to start walking across.
WORLD HUNGER The collapse of international communism has produced one important political byproduct in the United States: foreign aid programs have become less politically charged. Something that was once seen as the province of the left has been enthusiastically embraced by many conservatives, as has the forgiveness of foreign debt. The Republican base within the evangelical community has also had a longstanding interest in helping the poorest of the poor abroad.
This is an issue where both political sides should be able to work together, and there is a great deal for them to do. The Bush administration, beleaguered by its deficit woes, has shown a disturbing inclination to backtrack on or delay previous commitments to help the needy in the third world. The Democrats might agree to forgo demonizing the president on this issue if their Republican colleagues would work to get the funds back on track.
SEX TRAFFICKING Some international programs, like those for AIDS prevention and women's health issues, keep getting caught up in the tensions between abortion opponents and family planning advocates. Fighting sex trafficking might be a good way for the groups concerned with helping women in the third world to find common ground. Liberal women's organizations have taken strong stands against the scandalous sale of young women to brothels around the world as a human rights issue, while religious conservatives have pressed the Bush administration into taking some of its most admirable actions in the international arena.
Lobbying by the right led to the establishment of a State Department office concerned with the sex-trafficking problem and a system to monitor progress in nations where such trafficking occurs, with penalties leveled in the form of reductions in United States aid. The challenge now is to ensure that this kind of exploitation of women remains on the agenda, and that the focus expands beyond the poor countries where trafficking begins to include the wealthy nations where the sex slaves are imported, including the Scandinavian countries, Japan and the United States.
QUALITY HEALTH CARE Health care is a political minefield, with Republicans and Democrats divided over ideological issues like government regulation versus market forces. There are even warring special interest groups - Democrats join forces with the trial lawyers against restricting malpractice awards, while Republicans fling their bodies in front of any attempt to regulate prescription drug prices. But everyone wants better quality. Various studies have shown that tens of thousands of Americans die from medical errors each year and that patients fail to get the treatments recommended for their illnesses almost half the time.
The outgoing secretary of health and human services, Tommy Thompson, started a batch of demonstration projects to improve quality in the first Bush term, and Democrats have long been interested in the issue, especially when it comes to health care for the poor. Prominent members of both parties have called for a greater infusion of computerized information technology into the paper-driven medical system to reduce errors and alert doctors to problems. Pressing ahead on this front should be a no-brainer - if the Democrats can allow the Republican majority to take most of the credit, and the Republicans can control their urge to bring the poison pill of malpractice tort reform into the discussion.
AGRICULTURAL SUBSIDIES Democrats and Republicans alike, including leaders within the Bush administration, understand that the nation can't afford the current system of agricultural subsidies, at the tune of roughly $15 billion a year. But they continually run up against a bipartisan roadblock of lawmakers from farm states.
Now even a few sensible legislators from agricultural areas, like Senator Chuck Hagel, the Nebraska Republican, have concluded that the current system is a sham: it fails to help small farmers while artificially inflating land prices, making it impossible for new families to enter the farming business. Trade officials know that the subsidies, particularly the unconscionable $3 billion the nation pays each year to prop up cotton farmers in a few states, are a source of constant friction with poorer nations around the globe, whose farmers cannot compete with the rock-bottom prices of subsidized American crops.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM The passage of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill in 2001 was a historic achievement that occurred only because principled Republicans - particularly Senator John McCain of Arizona and Representative Christopher Shays of Connecticut - were willing to buck their party leaders and join with Democrats to push for an end to the unregulated flow of "soft money" donations from corporations, labor unions and special interests. No sooner had the bill become law than party financiers found a loophole and created groups known as 527's, after the tax-code section that regulated them.
Theoretically unattached to any campaign, the 527's were in reality creatures of the presidential campaigns of George Bush and John Kerry. The Democrats led in the race to funnel money through the 527's, and because they were more successful, Republicans in Congress may look more favorably on closing the loophole. But in the end, the Democrats were hurt by the 527's more than they were helped, particularly by the work of the infamous Swift Boat Veterans for Truth committee. That experience should make both parties equally chary of allowing the practice to continue, and foster a rare path toward bipartisan action on this issue, so deeply sensitive to all elected officials with another campaign on the horizon.
But the real howler is this quote: "Theoretically unattached to any campaign, the 527's were in reality creatures of the presidential campaigns of George Bush and John Kerry. The Democrats led in the race to funnel money through the 527's, and because they were more successful, Republicans in Congress may look more favorably on closing the loophole. But in the end, the Democrats were hurt by the 527's more than they were helped, particularly by the work of the infamous Swift Boat Veterans for Truth committee. That experience should make both parties equally chary of allowing the practice to continue...."
And nary a word about their flawed presidential candidate-opportunist, or the Congressional abridgement of Freedom of Speech so dear to the Times.
whoever let this go out with the word "chary" should be shot. Since their observations are so offensive to me, I find I prefer to edit their statements.....
PJComix should start a thread based on the NYTimes editorial page...
This really isn't a bad list. At first glance, I think I can especially agree with them about sex trafficking, and farm subsidies. Working on world poverty is also a wonderful goal, but any serious effort on that topic involves spreading the free enterprise system -- something that liberals hate and will surely oppose.
A "problem" that could be eliminated tomorrow if the United States was granted the imperial power it deserves. We alone grow enough food to feed the world. It's not that the food isn't there or that it's not available; it's that corrupt powers within starving nations use food as a weapon. Allow the US free rein in seeing that its largesse is distributed fairly and the problem will disappear.
Oh come on. How big an issue is this really? And don't give me a lot of Phil Donahue boo-hoo about the tens of thousands of women and children sold into virtual slavery blah blah blah. I'm having trouble believing that, overnight, the flesh market has exploded.
QUALITY HEALTH CARE
Manufactured non-issue. Socialist agitprop.
Sunset them. Five years and they're gone. And this is coming from a guy in the heart of the Midwest.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM
Non-issue. Reread the First Amendment. Then overturn McCain-Feingold and do something about the MONEY, not the rhetoric.
I stopped reading right there. Such self-sanctimonious hogwash. People have been feeding the poor for eons before "the left" ever hatched. They've merely tried to glom the good works of others for their own political gain.
A real leap of faith would be for people to think that the media is capable of actually reporting the FACTS rather than injecting their america hating agenda into every story!
The goals can't be disagreed with, but the means can.
The way to end world hunger, for instance, insofar as that is possible, chiefly involves two things. First, most hunger in the third world is caused by wars, such as the war in the Sudan. And most of those wars are caused by Muslims. I don't know if we can venture to interfere in places like Africa, but it could be argued that it's in our interest to help the African Christians against the African Muslims, who are busy killing them. In the long term it will make a huge difference whether the Christians or the Muslims win the race for the soul of Africa.
Second, we need to help people help themselves. That not only means giving them farming implements rather than food. It also means deposing terrorist and socialist regimes who will not let their people farm safely. The former Rhodesia is a good case in point.
Sending out shiploads of wheat and condoms no doubt warms the cockles of the NY Times's editors, but it does little good for the recipients.
Isn't that vintage New York Times?
Coming up with a long list of New Year's resolutions for everybody else to do -- so we can all match their infinite perfectness?
Last one to leave, turn off the lights and take out Helen Thomas with you.
I'm chary of such a violent response.
one should be more 'leery' of my response...lol