In which business consultants try and fail to utter the words "m--- t------." Tips for trimming business travel costs, distributed by a Dallas PR firm, include: "Avoid taxis. Cab rides can be expensive, and often aren't necessary. Instead, use an airport or hotel shuttle service to get to your destination. If you're traveling with more than two people, you can sometimes share a limo for less than a taxi ride." Gosh, J.B., what are those long silvery trains that keep passing us on the Kennedy?
"The first need of a city whose population has declined radically is to consolidate those neighborhoods that are viable," writes Witold Rybczynski, thinking the unthinkable in the Atlantic (October). "Rather than mounting an ineffectual rear-guard action and trying to preserve all neighborhoods, as is done now, the de facto abandonment that is already in progress should be encouraged....It is true that private freedoms would be sacrificed for the common good in the process, just as they are when land is expropriated to build a highway or a transit system. Does this sound heartless? Surely it is less so than the current Pollyannaish pretense of providing services to many poor and depopulated neighborhoods, which are occasionally half revived with community-development projects and then left on their own to decay even further."
Desperately seeking a substitute proletariat. "To what extent, for example, can 'women' be said to be a group or a coherent social identity?" asks Jean Bethke Elshtain of the University of Chicago in reviewing Michael Piore's new book Beyond Individualism for In These Times (September 18). "I recall a conference I attended in 1972, during the early days of feminism, in which one very irate woman blasted into a microphone that 'all women are oppressed, from Jackie Onassis to a single mother on welfare.'...It didn't make a lot of sense, then or now." How about "the aged"? "Is the world of the ardently youthful 70-year-old who goes to aerobics class three days a week the same world as that of the 50-year-old victim of Alzheimer's? Is the social identity of 'seniors' living in an age-specific cohort of condos in Palm Beach the same as that of the frightened women and men who died, by the hundreds, in the heat wave in Chicago this past July because they were...too frightened or infirm or uninformed to leave their dwellings? In a word or four: Give me a break. If Piore thinks that, by lumping together 'women' and 'the aged,' among others, he has identified (as he claims) 'the potential for social mobilization,' he is living in an academic dream world."
The recession is not over. Thirty-four downstate communities, from Adams County to White County, have applied to the Illinois Department of Corrections to be the site of a new medium-security state prison.
"Those in the organic foods industry aren't about to jump in the haystack with government to get farm funding," reports Marie Ostarello in the Chicago-based bimonthly Conscious Choice (September/October). "Katherine DiMatteo of OTA [Organic Trade Association] echoes the industry's strong opinions against any subsidies. 'Subsidies create a false economy that cannot be sustained. Subsidies are unnatural input, just like adding chemicals to the soil. The people and the marketplace should determine the price.'"
The Cliff Dwellers--trendy at last. According to a recent press release, a testimonial dinner at the endangered club honored Henry Regnery, whose firm published William Buckley's God and Man at Yale in the 1950s and thus "became the seedbed of a new intellectual movement resisting the forces of statism and centralization."
"A definite pattern emerged: Everyone hated lawyers, but nearly everyone needed one--desperately," writes Ruth Rosauer in the Chicago-based Student Lawyer (October) of her decision to enter law school. "My former neighbor, whose friendliness and homemade pasta were two of the best things about Colorado, fixed me with a baleful look when I told her I would be going to law school. Yet within minutes she was confiding that she wished I already were a lawyer because she needed one to settle some unpleasant family business concerning the division of her family ranch."
Please shake out our wallets. According to a poll of midwesterners sponsored by the Environmental Law & Policy Center on North LaSalle, more than two-thirds would be willing to pay an average of $8.50 a month more for electricity "if necessary if it comes from sources that are less harmful to the environment."
"The problem is what's been happening to the typical [median] paycheck, not the average," Robert Kuttner reminds us in the Washington Post National Weekly (September 11-17). "Suppose a company employs four workers at $25,000 and the boss pays himself $100,000. The average wage is $40,000 ($200,000 divided by five people). Now suppose that business booms, and the boss raises his pay to $220,000 while cutting his employees' pay to $20,000. The average wage rises to $60,000. Pretty impressive--the average is up 50 percent--except that four out of the five people are now worse off. This trend, writ large, is what's been destroying the American dream for most families."
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.