Unlike in Lake Wobegon, not all students in the U.S. are above average—nor are all schools. Some students are failing to acquire the minimal competence they need, which means that some schools are also failing. President Bush’s call for nationwide annual testing in reading and math is designed to identify those schools.
In a few months, most taxpayers will be getting a check from Washington —up to $300 for single people, up to $600 for couples. This will be the first part of the massive federal tax cut passed by Congress and signed by President Bush. Their aim is to return $1.35 trillion in government revenues to taxpayers over 11 years.
Under current federal law, an individual who assaults a pregnant woman receives no punishment for any harm done to the unborn child. That the woman being assaulted is carrying a child in her womb is no more relevant in the eyes of the law than the fact that she is brown-haired or blue-eyed.
One of the characters in Marshall Jevons's mystery novel Murder at the Margin is a Harvard Divinity School professor named Matthew Dyke, who at one point complains about the exploitation of low-wage workers. Dyke declares that the employers' "profit-maximizing behavior" at the expense of the workers is unethical—as is all profit-maximizing behavior.
Did Bob Kerrey commit a war crime in Vietnam when his navy squadron killed unarmed women and children? Or were the killings in Thanh Phong accidents of war, the kind of terrible mistakes that even the most careful soldiers make in the fog of battle? We don’t know the answer.
The food movement has called attention to the abuse of animals that are raised and killed on factory farms. But even farmers who raise animals in humane ways, in small-scale operations, intend for the animals to be slaughtered. Bob Comis, a professional pig farmer, asks how can he ethically raise pigs knowing that his ultimate aim is to kill and market them for consumption. “As a pig farmer, I lead an unethical life,” Comis confesses. “I am a slaveholder and a murderer” (American Scholar, Spring).