Century Marks

Century Marks

Stratospheric pay

Corporate executives are feathering their own nests at the expense of their employees, according to a study by the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies. Bosses at the 50 American companies that laid off the most people during the recession earned 42 percent more than their peers, they concluded. The worst case was Schering-Plough's Fred Hassan, who was paid $49.7 million, including a golden parachute payout of $33 million that he received when the drug company merged with Merck—a move that led to the loss of 16,000 jobs. The average leader of a Standard and Poor's 500 company earns 263 times more than the typical American worker (Guardian, September 1).

Conversation over

"He lives! He reigns! End of discussion!" (First Church of the Nazarene sign posted at CNN Belief Blog).

A matter of means

An anti-homosexuality bill being considered by the Ugandan parliament, which calls for penalties against gays as severe as life imprisonment or even death, has American backers in high places, claims Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family. David Bahati, the legislator who introduced the bill, refuses to name his American supporters. It is known that Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, former U.S. attorney general John Ashcroft and Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, are on friendly terms with Bahati and the Ugandan Fellowship, an evangelical group within the Ugandan parliament. Sharlet says Inhofe and Warren Love voiced only muted opposition to the Ugandan bill and that they share its goal of eradicating homosexuality. (Harper's, September).

Religious shifts

There can be no peace in the world, especially the Middle East, without peace between the world's religions, starting with Judaism, Christianity and Islam, argues theologian Hans Küng. He thinks dialogue between the religions must include an awareness that no religion is static or monolithic. Küng outlines paradigm shifts each Abrahamic religion has undergone but points out that old religious paradigms can live alongside new ones—which is a source of internal conflict for religions. Particularly important is how each religion reacts to its own "middle age" and to modernity. Islam has not had a reformation in response to modernity, yet most Muslims reject forced marriages, oppression of women and honor killings. "They suffer from the constant sweeping condemnations of 'Muslims' and 'Islam,' without differentiation," says Küng (Theology, September-October).

Cost of war

Two years ago Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes estimated that the cost of the war in Iraq would be $3 trillion. They now think that number is too low, because it didn't include the cost of treating and compensating disabled veterans. Without the Iraq war, they argue, the U.S. would not still be stuck in Afghanistan, oil prices wouldn't be as high and the current economic crisis wouldn't be as severe. They figure that the Iraq war added $10 to the cost of a barrel of oil. Before the current crisis, the federal debt ballooned from $6.4 to $10 trillion, and at least a quarter of the increase is attributable to the war, excluding health care and disability payments to disabled veterans. "Can we learn from this mistake?" they ask (Washington Post, September 5).