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Jewish World Review June 27, 2001 / 6 Tamuz 5761

Don Feder

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Libs choose to make up your mind -- LIBERALS believe in choice on sex -- abortion, pornography and euphemistically designated "life-styles." Everywhere else, they are committed to denying options, foreclosing possibilities and deterring dissent.

Last week, the latest federal education bill went to conference committee, after President George Bush's plan for school choice was jettisoned.

The president's proposal was modest -- 10 school districts in three states were to be allowed to funnel federal dollars directly to low-income students in hopelessly failing schools to be used for private education.

Senators rejected this by a vote of 58 to 41. "It sounds so good, but it has a number of serious flaws," intoned Sen. Hillary Rodham -- I sent my kid to prep school, that's how she got into Stanford, tough about yours -- Clinton.

School choice is popular for good reason. The latest National Assessment of Educational Progress found that almost a third of fourth-graders can't read. Among black and Hispanic students, that number rises to 63 percent and 58 percent, respectively.

Congress refuses even to experiment with vouchers. Inner-city parents who want alternatives are told to sit in the corner and wait for things to get better, while their children are educated for minimum-wage jobs.

Promoting another Bush initiative, Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill was in New York City on June 18, addressing a group of investment executives on the need for Social Security reform. The White House plans to put forth a proposal to allow young workers to invest some of their Social Security taxes in private investment accounts.

This has the keepers of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's flame sputtering. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka is urging union pension managers to boycott investment firms that support reform.

To prove their faith in Social Security, you'd think union honchos would give their pension money to Washington to invest in the mythical trust fund. Then again, dogmatic isn't synonymous with stupid.

According to the Social Security trustees' 2001 report, the system will go into the red in 2016. By 2039, the deficit could reach $300 billion. To restore equilibrium, Washington will be forced to cut benefits by a third or raise taxes 50 percent.

Even if the system remains solvent, baby boomers can expect a return of less than 2 percent on their forced investment, Gen Xers less than 1 percent. Liberals intend to see to it that they are stuck with this sucker's deal forever.

For the left, government programs have an aura of sanctity. What once was public can never be private, no matter how badly government mucks it up.

Relief from liberal compulsion may be on the way for the Boy Scouts. By a single vote, the Senate approved an amendment to the education bill denying federal money to school districts that deny the Boy Scouts use of their facilities. Earlier, the House passed a similar measure.

After the Supreme Court's narrow decision permitting the Scouts a choice in determining their leadership requirements (that they exercised by excluding homosexuals), liberals vowed to get even.

Various United Way chapters cut off funding, and more than 400 school districts evicted America's premier character-building organization from their premises.

Though the amendment, sponsored by Sen. Jesse Helms, barely passed, 49 senators in effect said it was all right to savage the Scouts for breaking with the herd. In the words of "1984" -- "Right thinking will be rewarded, wrong thinking punished."

The courts have become enforcers of liberal compulsion, hence the importance of Bush's judicial choices. If individuals opt for a politically incorrect position, the ACLU or People for the American Way will send a black-robed goon squad over to break their legs.

In 1999, the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously held the Boy Scouts are Motel 6 (a "place of public accommodation"). Last year, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Appeals Court ruled Cleveland's voucher program is a church ("an establishment of religion"). Vermont's high court forced domestic partnerships on a cringing state.

Liberals love choice -- as long as it's their choice. Since they consider ordinary folks too stupid, bigoted and unsophisticated on financial matters to make an intelligent decision, liberals will make it for them.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.

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© 2001, Creators Syndicate