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Jewish World Review June 22, 1999 /8 Tamuz, 5759

Paul Greenberg

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Amazing stories
from D.C. Comix --
IT'S GETTING HARDER and harder to tell the difference between News of the Weird and the kind out of the nation's capital.

For example: Did you know that the House of Representatives has passed a bill that would allow residents of the District of Columbia to pay the lower, in-state tuition at public universities nationwide?

Huh? Yep, the House has approved $17 million of your tax money to subsidize D.C. students, poor things, at the college or university of their choice. The feds would pay the difference between the in-state and out-of-state tuition for these students through a fund controlled by the mayor of Washington; the mayor would be authorized to hand out $10,000 scholarships every year to qualified students.

This ought to be a great comfort to all those hard-pressed families outside Washington saving for their kids' college educations. At least they'll know their withholding helped send some kid to college.

Think of it as a kind of state citizenship for tuition-purposes-only. Welcome, Honorary Residents!

If this idea grows the way most federal programs do, Washington could become one of the great student-exporting capitals of the Western world. And its mayor the most popular figure in town. There are few more effective, and painless, ways to make friends than by handing out other people's money.

The nation's capital has a public university of its own (the University of the District of Columbia), but apparently it's not good enough for Washington's students. Many of them might prefer to attend schools in nearby Virginia or Maryland or, under the terms of this giveaway, maybe in lovely bucolic Arkansas. We've got plenty of universities, at least in name.

Just what business the federal government has handing out honorary citizenship in the state of one's choice isn't clear. But few things are in Washington -- except that Gentle and Overburdened Taxpayer will get stuck with the bill. This amazing proposal, to adapt a line from Dorothy Parker, should not be cast aside lightly; it should be thrown with great force.

The same applies to another brilliant way to use a government fund for purposes other than that for which it was intended. No, it's not Social Security this time. Raiding that fund became an unassailable Washington tradition decades ago. With a punctilious regard for the proprieties, those doing the raiding always left behind a government IOU every time they break open the piggy bank.

And now Bill Clinton has proposed that the states do pretty much the same thing with their unemployment funds, allowing folks to draw unemployment for purposes other than tiding them over between jobs. The president suggests that the states use their unemployment money to pay people to stay home with a new child and, soon enough, doubtless for a whole array of other socially beneficial purposes. The unemployment tax doubtless will continue to increase, even if it's not being used to ease unemployment. Indeed, this scheme could encourage unemployment. Somebody ought to get the annual Doublespeak Award for this idea.

Where there's a lot of money, there's a way for politicians to spend it. At least if it's other people's money. By now that's less amazing than customary.

The amazing stories just never stop coming out of Hollywood East. The other day, it was reported that the next national census won't be recording whether Americans are married or divorced -- statistics that have been routinely gathered since 1890.

At last count, and I mean (ital)last(unital) count, Americans had the highest divorce rate in the world. But here's a nifty way to make the problem go away: Don't report it.

Amazing. So much for this administration's oh-so-deep concern for American families. How formulate family-friendly policies if we're not going to collect the most basic information about American families?

The president does, however, want law-enforcement agencies to start keeping tabs -- by race and sex -- on the people they stop and arrest. Which is just fine by me. It'll provide some statistical basis for the growing suspicion that DWB has become a common crime in this country. (Driving While Black.)

Every conscientious police chief in the country has probably already started keeping a count just to satisfy his own curiosity. What's amazing isn't that the president wants to collect more information, but that he wants only the kind that fits into his socio-political agenda. Information about race is welcome. Information about the American family isn't.

Here's an insight into the American order of priorities as this century winds down: The national census will continue to report how much our houses are worth, and even how much money we make, but not whether we're married or divorced. Which shows you what's really important in America circa 1999.


06/17/99: George W.'s first mistake
06/08/99: Hail to the chief?
06/02/99: In praise of failure
05/26/99: Betrayal in the making: let's not make a deal
05/20/99: Israel's big switch: new era or just a mood swing?
05/18/99: Free our kids: revive the land of opportunity
05/13/99: This war will end --- or spread
05/11/99: South Sider comes through
05/07/99: There is no substitute for victory
05/05/99: A Tale of two colonels
05/03/99: It's the culture, stupid
04/30/99: Bumpers' 'B.S.'
04/27/99: An American tragedy: the fall of Kenneth Starr
04/23/99: Presidents and the press
04/14/99: A revealing moment
04/14/99: War Day by day
04/12/99: Just a few questions
04/06/99: The problem with the Left
04/05/99: The problem with the Right
03/30/99: But can he convince himself?
03/26/99: Short bursts
03/24/99: Once more into the quagmire
03/17/99: Big time in Little Rock
03/15/99: Our own Roger Taney
03/09/99: A different ‘Waterfront’
03/05/99: Law and disorder
2/26/99: King Richard's revenge
2/25/99: Open season on the fetus, and a good word for the pagans
2/23/99: It never ends: Here comes the judge
2/19/99: After the storm: Going through the debris
2/17/99: Where's the closure?
2/12/99: Hussein the Hashemite: The wiliest player on the board
2/09/99: The social security game
2/04/99: Our own Inspector Clouseau
2/01/99: Night scene, night thoughts
1/28/99: The decay of the art of lying
1/26/99: Impeachment: Short subjects
1/22/99: Bounce, glitz and tedium: The State of the Disunion
1/20/99: Destructive engagement: How to encourage tyranny
1/18/99: Martin Luther King: The radical as conservative?
1/11/99: Why America is apathetic about Bill's date with destiny
1/06/99:The year of Moronica
1/04/99: Clinton’s janitorial crew of two
12/29/98:The Senate will be on trial, too
12/29/98:A look down the avenue
12/22/98: The surreal impeachment
12/17/98: Another moment of truth approaches
12/15/98: The President's defenders: witnesses for the prosecution
12/10/98:The latest miracle cure: CensurePlus
12/03/98: Sentences at an airport Sentences at an airport
12/03/98: Games lawyers play
12/01/98: Ms. Magoo strikes again, or: Janet Reno and the law
11/26/98: The most American holiday
11/23/98: Same game, another round
11/18/98: Guide to the perplexed
11/09/98: A vote for apathy
11/03/98: Global village goes Clintonesque
11/02/98: Farewell to all that
10/30/98: New budget, same swollen government
10/26/98: Of life on the old plantation -- and death in the Middle East
10/22/98: Starr Wars (CONT'D)
10/19/98:Another retreat: weakness invites aggression
10/16/98: Profile in courage
10/14/98: A new voice out of Arkansas
10/09/98: Gerald Ford, Mr. Fix-It?
10/07/98: Impeachment Journal: Dept. of Doublespeak
10/01/98: The new tradition
9/25/98: Mr. President, PLEASE don't resign
9/23/98: The demolition of meaning
9/18/98: So help us G-d; The nature of the crisis
9/17/98: First impressions: on reading the Starr Report
9/15/98: George Wallace: All the South in one man
9/10/98: Here comes the judge
9/07/98: Toward impeachment
9/03/98: The politics of impeachment
9/01/98: The eagle can still soar
8/28/98: Boris Yeltsin's mind: a riddle pickled in an enigma
8/26/98: Clinton agonistes, or: Twisting in the wind
8/25/98: The rise of the English murder
8/24/98: Confess and attack: Slick comes semi-clean
8/19/98: Little Rock perspectives
8/14/98: Department of deja vu
8/12/98: The French would understand
8/10/98: A fable: The Rat in the Corner
8/07/98: Welcome to the roaring 90s
8/06/98: No surprises dept. -- promotion denied
8/03/98: Quotes of and for the week: take your pick
7/29/98: A subpoena for the president:
so what else is new?
7/27/98: Forget about Bubba, it's time to investigate Reno
7/23/98: Ghosts on the roof, 1998
7/21/98: The new elegance
7/16/98: In defense of manners
7/13/98: Another day, another delay: what's missing from the scandal news
7/9/98:The language-wars continue
7/7/98:The new Detente
7/2/98: Bubba in Beijing: history does occur twice
6/30/98: Hurry back, Mr. President -- to freedom
6/24/98: When Clinton follows Quayle's lead
6/22/98: Independence Day, 2002
6/18/98: Adventures in poli-speke

©1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate