Clicking on banner ads keeps JWR alive
Jewish World Review May 20, 1999 /5 Sivan, 5759

Mona Charen

Mona Charen
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Tony Snow
Dr. Laura
Bob Greene
Michael Kelly
Paul Greenberg
David Corn
Sam Schulman
Philip Weiss
Mort Zuckerman
Richard Chesnoff
Larry Elder
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Don Feder
Linda Chavez
Mona Charen
Thomas Sowell
Walter Williams
Ben Wattenberg


Say no to the Gore tax

(JWR) ---- (
AL GORE HAS ALWAYS more richly deserved to be a joke than has poor Dan Quayle. And now, at last, he appears to be embracing his destiny. When not hoeing tobacco, whipping his mule team up steep hillsides and inventing the Internet, our indefatigable veep conceived the brilliant idea of hiring former Rep. Tony Coehlo as his campaign chairman. This is like Mike Tyson hiring Marv Albert to buff his image.

Coehlo, famous for strong-arming big Democratic donors while serving as majority whip, resigned from Congress under a cloud in 1989, after failing to disclose a shady loan. Mr. No-Controlling-Legal-Authority might have thought of that. As for Coehlo's political instincts, well, when Coehlo was serving as a campaign adviser to the House Democrats in October 1994, he was asked, "How does it look out there?"

(The polls were terrible for Democrats at that point, and sure enough, a month later, Republicans swept into the majority for the first time in 40 years.)

"Great," Coehlo replied, "the Contract With America was the stupidest thing the Republicans could have done." Now, Gore will have the benefit of that political acumen.

But while most Americans know that the vice president thinks the internal combustion engine is the greatest threat to the world today, and while many may be offended by his cynical use of his sister's tragic death for political mileage, most voters probably do not know that he is responsible for raising their taxes by $1 billion, or $10 per household.

You constitutional sticklers out there may not like the idea of a tax passed by a federal agency instead of originating in the House of Representatives. But that is exactly what is about to happen if the Federal Communications Commission votes, as expected, 4-1 to add an annual hidden tax of $10 per customer to your phone bill. That is in addition to the hidden $10 we are already paying.

You campaign-finance and good-government types might want to consider that this tax amounts to a straight payoff to loyal Democratic constituencies.

The tax was announced amid fanfare, The Wall Street Journal reports, at a National Education Association meeting "by Gore loyalist (FCC Chairman) William Kennard ... where he stood beside Gore loyalist and NEA President Bob Chase."

Can a federal agency simply vote to impose a tax? Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth thinks it's illegal, but his is a lonely voice. He argues that while the 1996 Telecommunications Act gives the agency authority to establish programs for telecommunications services to schools and libraries, 70 percent to 80 percent of the funds that have already been raised have gone to equipment, which is not covered by the law.

What is the purpose of the tax? It's to wire every school in America to the Internet, of course. It won't exactly ratify Gore's boast that he invented the Internet, but he hopes it will give him the chance to say he wired America's schools. But, ahem, the administration's own Department of Education just issued a report saying that 80 percent of America's schools are already hooked up to the Internet.

Why is this a federal concern at all? Leave aside for the moment the notion that funding for education ought to be a local matter (that battle hasn't been completely lost yet), and ask yourself: How much does it cost to get wired to the Internet anyway? Once you own a computer, you have to fork over 59 cents for a telephone wire and then toddle over to the local Price Club to pick up some jack extenders. OK, maybe you'll need extra phone lines into the school. Should the federal government be taxing our phone bills to the tune of $2.25 billion per year -- as envisioned by the FCC -- for that?

Besides, many of our schools are failing to teach children the basics of reading, writing and mathematics. Those skills have been taught for centuries without access to the Internet, and Internet access is unlikely to improve instruction. In capable hands, it may be a useful research tool, but in the hands of lazy or incompetent teachers, it's easy to imagine its abuse.

The FCC was cowed by a public outcry when it attempted this last year. Perhaps history will repeat itself.

JWR contributor Mona Charen reads all of her mail. Let her know what you think by clicking here.


05/17/99:Baby Hope
05/13/99:Other high crimes
05/10/99:Three cheers for uniforms
05/05/99: Voucher opponents' worst nightmare
05/03/99: Lessons of Columbine High
04/28/99: Kevorkian is stopped
04/26/99: "Senseless tragedy"?
04/22/99: Hey, hey, ... Bubba
04/19/99: Why we are in Kosovo
04/15/99: Hooray for the NYPD
04/09/99: How to do something about taxes
04/06/99:Can the private sector handle foster care?
03/31/99: The Flower Child goes to war
03/29/99: Foreign-policy meltdown
03/25/99: 'Just doin' it'
03/22/99: Return of pay equity?
03/16/99: St. Hillary
03/10/99: Rodney King in perspective
03/08/99: Monica's story: No morals
03/04/99: Not home but library alone:
3/02/99: Tuning our racial sensitivities
2/27/99: Cease-fire in war between sexes?
2/23/99: Where were the religious voices?
2/19/99: Depends what you mean by "acting"
2/17/99: As Minn., goes so goes the nation?
2/09/99: Prepare for post-impeachment spin
2/03/99: Teaching morality
2/01/99: What did he say?
1/26/99: The truth about the Peace Process
1/22/99: The vulgar decade
1/19/99: Was Jefferson libeled by DNA?
1/13/99: The backlash picks up speed
1/11/99: Who invented politics of personal destruction?
1/07/99: Shall we dance?
1/05/99: Try him!
12/30/98: The price of virtue
12/28/98: The gift of giving
12/22/98: Party of shame, party of shamelessness
12/18/98: Wag the country
12/16/98: Is this impeachment constitutional?
12/14/98: Republicans find courage
12/09/98: Nappy Hair and other racial slurs
12/07/98: Stranger in a strange land
12/02/98: Dangerous ground
11/30/98: Involuntary fatherhood?
11/24/98: Lies, damned lies, and sex lies
11/18/98: Another victory for cowardice
11/16/98: Separatism plus welfarism equals a dead end
11/10/98: Did conservatism lose campaign '98?
11/06/98: Democrat venality, Republican timidity
11/04/98: Are girls being shortchanged?
11/02/98: Believe the children?
10/28/98: What 'Measure 58' would do
10/26/98: The officers are bailing out
10/20/98: Using Matthew Shepard's murder
10/19/98: The school voucher that saved a family
10/14/98: Are powerful women different?
10/09/98: Can just sex be impeachable?
10/07/98: Repeal Miranda
10/02/98: Understanding the polls
10/01/98: What school texts teach about marriage
9/28/98: Fear of choice
9/23/98: A fork in the road: Bubba's fate and ours
9/18/98: Christianity and the Holocaust
9/16/98: The national dirty joke
9/11/98: Are we in crisis?
9/09/98: Does Burton's sin let Clinton off the hook?
9/07/98: Liar's Poker
9/01/98: One, two, three
8/28/98: Fat and folly
8/25/98: When homework is a dirty word
8/21/98: The unravelling
8/18/98: The wages of dishonesty
8/17/98: Sex, honor and the presidency
8/12/98: Pro-choice extremist
8/10/98: Switch illuminates biology's role
8/05/98: The presumption of innocence and the American way
8/03/98: An American hero
7/29/98: Lock up those who need psychiatric care
7/24/98: Making the military more like us
7/22/98: The 'Net sex hoax... and us
7/20/98: Disappointed by Cosbys
7/15/98: Feelings, not morality, rule
7/10/98: Guns as the solution?
7/8/98: Teacher preacher
7/6/98: The China behind the headlines
7/1/98: What is the First Amendment for?
6/26/98: The Republican city
6/24/98: Poison pen
6/22/98: Clinton: inventing his own reality?
6/16/98: Senator mom?
6/12/98: Wisconsin: a trail blazer?
6/9/98: These girls say no to sex, yes to excellence
6/5/98: Lewinsky's ex-lawyer would feel right at home as Springer guest
6/2/98: English? Si; Republican? No!
5/29/98: The truth about women and work
5/27/98: Romance in the '90s
5/25/98:Taxing smokers for fun and profit
5/19/98: China's friend in the White House
5/15/98: Look out feminists: here comes the true backlash
5/12/98: The war process?
5/8/98: Where's daddy?
5/5/98: The joys of boys
5/1/98: Republicans move on education reform
4/28/98: Reagan was right
4/24/98: The key to Pol Pot
4/21/98: The patriot's channel
4/19/98: Child-care day can't replace mom
4/15/98: Tax time
4/10/98: Armey states obvious, gets clobbered
4/7/98: A nation complacent?
4/1/98: Bill Clinton's African adventure
3/27/98: Understanding Arkansas
3/24/98: Jerry Springer's America
3/20/98: A small step for persecuted minorities
3/17/98: Skeletons in every closet?
3/13/98: Clinton's idea of a fine judge
3/10/98: Better than nothing?
3/6/98: Of fingernails and freedom
3/3/98: Read JWR! :0)
2/27/98: Dumb and Dumber
2/24/98: Reagan reduced poverty more than Clinton
2/20/98: Rally Round the United Nations?
2/17/98: In Denial
2/13/98: Reconsidering Theism
2/10/98: Waiting for the facts?
2/8/98: Cat got the GOP's tongue?
2/2/98: Does America care about immorality?
1/30/98: How to judge Clinton's denials
1/27/98: What If It's Just the Sex?
1/23/98: Bill Clinton, Acting Guilty
1/20/98: Arafat and the Holocaust Museum
1/16/98: Child Care or Feminist Agenda?
1/13/98: What We Really Think of Abortion
1/9/98: The Dead Era of Budget Deficits Rises Again?
1/6/98: "Understandable" Murder and Child Custody
1/2/98: Majoring in Sex
12/30/97: The Spirit of Kwanzaa
12/26/97: Food fights (Games children play)
12/23/97: Does Clinton's race panel listen to facts?
12/19/97: Welcome to the Judgeocracy, where the law school elite overrules majority rule
12/16/97: Do America's Jews support Netanyahu?

©1999, Creators Syndicate