Last updated: May 24. 2014 12:31AM - 528 Views

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Racism and sexism

Now and then, we choose the most convenient prism through which to view our most serious social problems, however superficially, because it comes packaged in equal doses of celebrity and infamy.

There is a drug crisis in most states, but it hardly registers until Rob Ford’s drooling visage fills the TV screen or Philip Seymour Hoffman drops dead. This country has a mass shooting problem, with 4,500 dead and 19,600 more bleeding on ER tables so far this year, but the world doesn’t notice until Plaxico Burress puts a hole in his own thigh. We cannot educate children in many cities, but the tragedy goes unnoticed until some altruistic billionaire drops $100 million on Newark.

So now there is fresh dialogue about racism and sexism, spilling into the mainstream media with an inadvertent shove from Donald Sterling and Jill Abramson, but to discuss either as a cause celebre’ is to trivialize the real issues.

Abramson, a journalist as subtle as a blowtorch, was accused of unspecified acts of brusque behavior, committed among the princely hierarchy at the New York Times. But the theme that had the most traction was an unsubstantiated claim involving a lower salary than the one earned by her predecessor.

Indeed, Abramson might be a sympathetic figure. But gender justice isn’t so much about an executive making $450,000 as it is about pay equity in America, an issue that was muted the moment the U.S. Senate blocked a vote last month, and about having the worst maternity leave policy in the world.

Moreover, racism isn’t merely the purview of dotty old men such as Sterling. Racism is common cause in our political culture — not only in Cliven Bundy’s America, but in the institutional marginalization of minorities by our courts and our laws, which conspire to produce segregated schools and voting restrictions and countless wars waged on the poor.

Theologian Paul Tillich said if we don’t develop a keener eye for racism or sexism or homophobia, and address them only when the news cycle gives us no other choice, we’re mistaking moralism for morality. The real systemic sins are hiding inside the latter. Yet the cycle spins on. — The Star-Ledger

US Export-Import Bank

Government agencies, bureaus and departments whose services are no longer needed tend to hang around too long. Bureaucracies, once in place, are difficult to remove.

The task becomes far easier when the agency has an expiration date.

The US Export-Import Bank is such an agency. And lawmakers should let its Sept. 30 expiration date pass without a reauthorization.

This Depression-era relic that most taxpayers have never heard of uses their money to secure financing for favored corporations and foreign governments under the aegis of “facilitating” U.S. exports.

Like most New Deal-era machinations, the Export-Import Bank’s time has come and gone.

Global trade is no longer the exotic and tumultuous prospect it was when President Roosevelt created Ex-Im to finance trade with the Soviet Union in 1934. These days, any major American corporation worth its salt has been doing business overseas without assistance for decades. And thanks to e-commerce, even small businesses are exporting their wares overseas.

So what does Ex-Im do exactly? If you ask Diane Katz, the Heritage Foundation’s regulatory policy fellow, Ex-Im is “a conduit for corporate welfare beset by unreliable risk management, inefficiency and cronyism.”

That assessment is backed up by a review of its annual report. Ex-Im’s biggest customers are multinational U.S. corporations such as Bechtel, Boeing, Caterpillar and General Electric - the kinds of “exporters” most would be shocked to learn need taxpayer-funded assistance.

As with most forms of corporate welfare, Ex-Im’s spoils tend to go to the companies with the most lobbyists and biggest government relations budgets. You can be assured Big Business lobbyists are working overtime to ensure the spigot to the government-finance hose isn’t turned off.

If our elected officials were truly committed to bolstering America’s competitiveness in global trade, they would eschew corporate welfare for a reduction in export tax and regulatory barriers - starting with Dodd-Frank regulations - and reduce the corporate income tax to encourage US companies to repatriate their overseas profits.

Any way you slice it, Ex-Im is one dinosaur that should be allowed to go extinct. — The Augusta Chronicle

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