blank.gif (51 bytes) Second Thoughts
All In the Day's News
by Ralph Heller, NPRI Senior Research Fellow

25-year-old reporter for the Reno Gazette-Journal witnessed the execution of a convicted killer last month and then shared a few of her thoughts with readers: "If the death penalty is supposed to make people think twice before they commit crimes, we should return to the days of hangings in the town square. The sanitary disposal of life in the dark corners of a prison where only a few people stand witness doesn’t send a message."

Yet if such rationalism wishes to govern the world without reference to civility, according to the great historian Renan, "the experience of the French Revolution is there to teach us the consequences of such a blunder."

Meanwhile, much of the world is drowning in precisely the uncivilized behavior Renan warned us about, although we are afforded only snapshots of the worldwide horrors in our U.S. daily newspapers. Hardly for the first time, The Economist of Great Britain, now the most influential periodical on earth, summed up the world’s present plight only a month ago:

The last six months have brought butchery in Kosovo, belligerence in Iran and Afghanistan, open nuclear rivalry in India and Pakistan, the apparent determination of North Korea to collapse with a bang, the descent into warfare of a huge swathe of Africa from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean and a new outbreak of anti-American terrorism; meanwhile old fires still burn brightly in Algeria, Sudan, Sri Lanka and corners of the Caucasus—and smolder dangerously in Bosnia, the Middle East, Angola, Colombia and Cambodia.

It is with a shudder that we turn our attention away from such terrorism and sheer horror to ponder what seems to be taking place around us right here at home. Surely the award for the most amusing recent newspaper editorial goes to the Washington Post as it attempted to trivialize President Clinton’s conduct. "Invoking the majesty of the impeachment clause against behavior as trashy as this," lectured the Post, "is somehow to-cheapen the impeachment clause." In other words, Clinton lacks the stature to be impeached.

This is an interesting and novel approach to the law, and perhaps the next time you’re stopped for speeding you should explain to the officer that you’re just an ordinary citizen, clearly lacking in stature to be ticketed under the majesty of Nevada’s speeding laws.

Then there are those countless liberal journalists who insist that Clinton had committed no crime so that impeachment is inappropriate. The problem for these huffers and puffers is that "criminal activity" and "impeachable offense" are not synonymous. For example, if a president decided at mid-term to move with his family to a foreign country and refused to return, it would involve no crime but would surely merit impeachment.

Many Americans keep checking the daily obituary pages for the official notice that the feminist movement has drawn its last breath. Certainly many of its leaders have been doing their best to undermine the movement. After former White House volunteer Kathleen Willey made plausible accusations that the president had grabbed and groped her, feminist movement icon Gloria Steinem rushed to Clinton’s defense: "The truth is that even if the allegations are true, the president is not guilty of sexual harassment because he took ‘no’ for an answer." This is the same Gloria Steinem who savagely attacked Clarence Thomas even though he was never accused of even touching Anita Hill.

And Betty Friedan, another founding mother of the movement, wrote of the Lewinsky charges, "Whether it’s a fantasy, a set-up or true, I simply don’t care." This is the same person who earlier had popularized the phrase "the personal is political," explaining that men should be judged by both their public lives and their private lives.

Here in Nevada our Board of Regents were so impressed with last month’s "Second Thoughts" column (which reported that personal incomes in Nevada were inching up at only 2.8 percent a year) that they awarded 4.5 percent "cost of living" raises to the presidents of UNLV and UNR, and gave Chancellor Richard Jarvis a whopping 5.3 percent increase. Jarvis and UNR President Joe Crowley are now scraping along on $205,369 and $202,269, respectively.

In September, the Cato Institute, a widely respected free market think tank, released what it calls A Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors. "When Gov. Bob Miller’s 10-year reign comes to an end next year," says the report, "Nevada’s economy will be larger than when he began, but so will its state government."

It seems that from 1990 to 1996 Nevada led the nation in the growth of its bureaucracy which expanded by 5.6 percent a year during that period, compared to the U.S. average of 1.5 percent a year. The Institute had little to say about Nevada’s rapidly growing nomenklatura, although NPRI recommends that the Institute dispatch a researcher to stand in line waiting for service at a Nevada DMV office before issuing its next report.

Still, even as we condemn the adolescent and irresponsible conduct of our president, laugh heartily at the wondrous hypocrisy of today’s feminist leaders, choke on the salary raises being tossed about like candy by our Board of Regents and shudder at Nevada’s ever-expanding unresponsive bureaucracy, we know we’re lucky. As The Economist makes so painfully clear, millions and millions of the world’s people would consider lives burdened with no more troubles and aggravation than ours to be sheer luxury. NJ

Ralph Heller is senior consulting editor of Nevada Journal.


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