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Jewish World Review /Dec. 30, 1998 /11 Teves, 5759

Walter Williams

Things I wonder about

(JWR) ---- (http://www.jewishworldreview.com) THERE ARE THINGS THAT REALLY PUZZLE ME. For example, some insurers advertise bargain life-insurance rates provided you don't have a life-shortening lifestyle. Being a non-smoker is one of them.

That's actuarially sound policy because smokers risk a shorter life expectancy; but insurance companies don't advertise lower rates to non-homosexuals. After all homosexuals, as a group -- because of AIDS -- have a shorter life expectancy than either smokers or heterosexuals. You say, "That would be discrimination against homosexuals!" But my question is why is it acceptable for insurance companies to discriminate against smokers but not homosexuals?

Then there are those TV fund-raising commercials featuring emaciated, forlorn looking children in other lands. The speaker says we can help this little child have nutritious meals, and get a good education and better housing if we'd donate $21 a month.

Then later on in the commercial, the formerly forlorn-looking child is happy and playful. I say great! How come we can't do the same thing domestically? Twenty-one dollars a month is a darn sight cheaper than what we're paying for all our welfare programs.

Let's look at some statistics before my next puzzlement. The Census Bureau reports that the 1997 median income for 25- to 34-year-olds was $26,000; for those in the 55 to 64 age bracket, the median income was $31,000. Net worth (assets minus liabilities) was a paltry $6,000 for the under-35-year-old householder and a whopping $91,000 for the 55- to 64-year-old householder.

Older people having higher income and greater wealth makes sense simply because they've gained skills and had time to accumulate wealth. What I don't understand is why we have the senior citizen goodies -- discounts, rebates and handouts for people at the top of the income and wealth heap.

There are instructions that puzzle me, engendering considerable disrespect for my fellow Americans' intellect, such as warning labels on all manner of products that read: "Do Not Take Internally." Most often, the product isn't something one reasonably takes internally, like butter, a can of Coke or a candy bar. The warnings are on products like paint, bleach and other cleaning fluids.

I'm wondering how many grown Americans actually took a swig of something like Minwax, bleach and paint thinners. There's a warning label appearing on automobile sun screens that people buy to put on their windshield to keep their cars cool that reads: "Do Not Drive With Screen In Place."

Here's my take. A person dumb enough to drink Minwax, bleach and paint thinners, or drive with a sun screen in place, is probably also too dumb to read. In that case, warning labels are a waste.

Speaking of warning labels, there's a debate going on as to whether mother's milk is good or bad for infants, a preposterous debate considering the world's population. If the medical authorities conclude that mother's milk is hazardous, I'm wondering where they're going to put that warning label.

Finally, there's a seeming conspiracy against parents. You buy your kid all kinds of pets. In our case, it was birds for our daughter. Typically, the bird is in the house for a week, a month, several months and out of the clear blue sky the bird drops dead.

What bird survives? If you said the bird that you bought just before the kid went off to college, that's not allowed in the dorm, that you now have to care for, go to the head of the class. In our case, that bird lived through four years of college and lives on as I write this column, but fortunately, finally, not with us.


12/23/98: Unseen crime costs
12/21/98: How to become rich
12/09/98: Advancing national decadence
12/02/98: The Civil War wasn't about slavery
11/24/98:What's happened to us?
11/20/98:Tragedy in black neighborhoods
11/11/98:Family debasement
I11/04/98: Is it them or us?
10/28/98: Where are the poor?
10/21/98: The budget surplus hoax
10/15/98: Where union power lies
10/08/98: Race and sex in the military
9/29/98: Can Clinton run the economy?
9/25/98: Liberals and the constitution
9/17/98: Clinton and future presidents
9/11/98: Donate or sell organs
9/03/98: Common Sense vs. Experts
8/26/98: Mother Nature's unfairness
8/24/98: The pretense of superiority
8/13/98: Yours or mine?
8/05/98: I do my job well, so that means I can....
7/29/98: Education production

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.