Who is my neighbor? "Most of us, if pressed, would acknowledge that we belong not only to the community of our birth but also to the human community as a whole and that we have obligations of some sort to that community," writes University of Chicago professor of law and ethics Martha Nussbaum in "Toward Global Justice" on www.preview.fathom.com. "But because we are at a loss to say what those obligations are, we find it easier to lapse into inattention." What we need are--theories. "Good theory helps people get a handle on their choices, making it more difficult for them to ignore their obligations. Philosophical theories of global justice are, then, badly needed to give guidance to personal reflection and public policy." Among other questions, such theories "will have to face the toughest question of all: How far are we required to do justice to the urgent claims of others who live at a distance, when it means hurting the life quality of our own children?"
Things you wouldn't say to her face. In the November 28 "Chicago Flame," Jim Kopeny describes Madonna as an "elder statesman."
Ralph Nader's still wrong. "There is the danger that the Green Party strategy of attacking the Democrats will undermine progressive political forces at a time when there seems to be a chance of rebuilding a popular movement critical of corporate power," writes David Moberg in In These Times (December 25). "Rather than indiscriminately attacking the Democratic Party as an institution, there is more to be gained by supporting progressives within the party and challenging conservative Democrats in primaries."
"I dare any one of these new Harvard-volunteer types or foreign recruits to teach alone in my school for a week," a veteran inner-city high school teacher tells Substance (November). "They'd be running out the door screaming when the first gangbanger started a brawl and security didn't come in ten seconds. Vallas and Chico can talk all they want about mentoring, but it doesn't prepare you for three gangbangers stomping a kid half to death in the back of your room."
Yearnings rarely found on TV. Peg Cain, writing in the Golden Apple Foundation's "Report Card" (Fall): "Six years ago this month, and the ten Octobers before that, I was teaching Cicero's letter to his son, 'On the Duties of the Individual to the State.' Talk about character education! The concept of consistently subduing bodily appetites in small things in order that we might count on bodily discipline during real challenges is utterly antithetical to the majority of messages that our kids pick up from the environment. Every year, as each group of seniors discussed the letter, their yearning was obvious, a yearning to believe that they possessed that kind of steely will that Cicero described as essential in a good citizen of Rome."
"We can say with certainty that if there's more spending in a political campaign, there will be higher voter turnout," Jeff Milyo of the University of Chicago's Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies tells the Chronicle (November 2). "But no one has proved this is cause and effect. It's by no means clear that spending has this impact, that the advertising is bringing people out. Maybe it's simply because it's two closely matched candidates."
Where the CTA buses were on July 10, according to Pamela Lewis in the Chicago Reporter (October): "The 28 vehicles with more than 600,000 miles were assigned exclusively to routes in majority black neighborhoods. The five lowest-mileage buses traveled through mostly white neighborhoods.... 309 buses equipped with cameras traveled through white neighborhoods, while 21 ran in black areas and 171 operated in mixed neighborhoods."
"If the national speed limit were 20 miles per hour, traffic deaths would be all but eliminated," writes Gregg Easterbrook in the New Republic (November 13). "But not one person in 1,000 would vote for such a plan, because the cost to people's time and economic productivity would be too great.... We make life/money trade-offs constantly," and not always in the direction of safety.