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A Strong Sunday Tribune...

...although not at all from a literature standpoint. (The Books section was pathetically meager in content. Hey, if you want a weekend off, just say so. We won't mind.) Several excellent items, though.

Poverty in the Midwest
Buried under the barrage of Hurricane Katrina news coverage was a quietly disclosed and thoroughly unsettling report from the the U.S. Census Bureau.

Despite four years of steady U.S. economic growth and the most aggressive government stimulus effort since the New Deal, poverty nationwide grew for a fourth year in a row in 2004, and the Midwest took the hardest hit of all.

Detroit and other cities [including St. Louis, Cleveland and Milwaukee] had higher percentages of poor people and lower median incomes than New Orleans. Ravaged by the loss of industrial jobs in the face of ruthless global competition, the Rust Belt was exposed as a cistern of poverty and hopelessness for a distressingly large number of its residents.

So despite the terrible blow to the Bush Adminstration's image from its response to Katrina, the hurricane did provide one benefit to Dubya--it hid the latest evidence of the utter and complete failure of his economic policies. Hmmm...let all the factory jobs and an increasing number of white-collar jobs go overseas in the name of corporate profits and then underfund our education system. And then poverty rises. Gee, nobody could have seen that one coming.

The Philanthropy of Marshall Field
Local historian and writer Douglas Bukowski (Pictures of Home) writes a fine essay on the philanthropic largesse of Marshall Field and other Gilded Era Chicago tycoons, a degree of generosity which contrasts sharply to today's elite.

Field honored Winthrop with his own version of the Golden Rule: Anyone who made it big had to share it the same way...Today's Christian Right has forgotten this message of stewardship, while American businesses and their allies in Washington act as if it never existed. But Field and his ilk knew what they had to do to save their souls and at least some of their fortune. So, they spread the wealth before the government or enraged mobs could take it away.

Bear in mind that the U.S. federal income tax wasn't permanently established until the passage of the 16th Amendment, in 1913, or after Field's great decade of philanthropy. So Field wasn't motivated to give primarily for the tax writeoff, which is surely the driving force behind what little our modern day benefactors cough up.

In Praise of Studs
It's always bothered me that our media rarely honors a great person during his or her lifetime, and we often learn about their great works only after their deaths, on the obituary page. It's time we started honoring our exemplary citizens while we still have a chance to appreciate them. The Trib acknowledges this need for once, paying a nice tribute to Studs Terkel on yesterday's editorial page. I love the epitaph that Studs has already come up with for himself: "Curiosity did not kill this cat."

(Trib site requires registration...if not already registered, use "blurb@sofort-mail.de" to log on, with "noblurb" as the password. Thanks to bugmenot.com, as always.)

October 17, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink

Comments

as a White Sox fan I refuse to buy the Tribune. I just read my fiancee's copy.

Posted by: AngryJolietan at Oct 18, 2005 8:00:39 AM