April 5, 2009 |
There is no shortage of viewpoints about how best to resolve the current economic crisis, and one nagging point of contention is the extent of the federal government's role. Will the stimulus package and industry bailouts move us closer to European democratic socialism, or are they temporary necessities to shore up U.S. capitalism? The debate over the role a central government should play in a capitalistic economy goes back to Adam Smith's masterwork, The Wealth of Nations, and has yet to be resolved.
January 3, 1999 |
One thousand years ago, parts of Europe were seized by terror, hysteria and altogether strange behavior. In 999, historians claim, debts were erased, and husbands and wives confessed their infidelities to each other - and were forgiven. Criminals were released from prison; beggars were fed more generously by the fortunate. Churches and cathedrals, convents and monasteries were jammed with believers demanding confession and absolution. There's even evidence that monks stopped copying the Bible, which, at the time, was pretty much all that monks did. As Christmas approached, the kindnesses gave way to fear and hysteria.
January 6, 2000 |
"I wouldn't walk around the block to see the world blow up. " Sitting there in his Walden Pond cabin in Massachusetts, Henry David Thoreau spoke these words to explain why he went off to "live deep and suck all the marrow of life. " For him, as for me, life is not such much what happens where there is a lot of activity (or television cameras) as what happens within myself and among those who share my tiny corner of the universe. Perhaps this is the reason so many of us spent our evenings at home alone or with family or friends, waiting for the year 2000 to dawn.
October 7, 1995 |
I know an 81-year-old man who chortles with life. He takes aerobic classes four times a week. He lifts weights three times a week. On weekends, he takes it easy - he goes ballroom dancing twice. Oh, did I forget to mention he has had both knees replaced? Americans are living longer these days - 76 years on average. But as the body ages, sadly it weakens, which means that because of physical degeneration, this foreboding possibility exists: We will lose some, if not all, of our ability to live independently.
June 25, 1994
TO JAPANESE, UNMENTIONABLE WAR What a change a week makes! First, near-saturation coverage of the Normandy hoopla. Then the emperor and empress of Japan visit the United States and - SHHH! - no mention of World War II. No visit to the Pearl Harbor Memorial allowed by the Tokyo government, lest it seen as if he might be apologizing. Japan today, where a cabinet officer may choose to deny the rape of Nanking and a leading liberal political leader publishes a blueprint for the future with quotes from "Mein Kampf," may prefer to gloss over 1931-1945.
August 8, 1994 |
I admit I'm feeling lousy today because one of the most significant human rights organizations in this region is on its deathbed, and not many people seem to care. After more than 53 years of advocacy and activism on issues ranging from educational equality to gun control to police accountability and fair-election practices, the Fellowship Commission may take its final breath within the next 30 days. It needs $150,000 to keep going for another year, but it's broke. The private giving and foundation grants that have sustained it have dried up. Evidently, not enough people think that a group that promotes fellowship is worthy of support.
November 3, 1994 |
There is no bitterness in Ann Weiss's voice as she speaks from a hospital bed, where a morphine drip is keeping the raging pain at bay. Her tone is almost bright, her mind clear, even as the disease plays hide-and-seek - racing about from brain to ribs to legs. It began 15 years ago when she was 30, with a lump under her breast. "I went in for a biopsy and when the doctor came into the recovery room all I had to do was look at his face to know the answer . . . he was in tears.
April 12, 1990 |
Barry Rosen says he rarely talks about the personal side of being one of the 52 American hostages held for 444 days in Iran 10 years ago. But he broke with that practice Friday when he spoke at an Elkins Park synagogue about the hellish experience that took more than a year from his life. And while Rosen is quick to point out that Komiteh Prison where he was held was "no death camp," he says he thinks the public should know how people are affected when their basic human rights are stripped away.
June 4, 2001 |
Some of the stories we do seem to rise on gossamer wings and fly right into our readers' hearts. Their magic lingers long after the paper is placed in the recycling bin because they tell us something about the human spirit. I got to thinking about these stories last week because I was looking at new research conducted by the Readership Institute at Northwestern University. The study said one thing newspapers can do to attract new readers and to encourage regular readers to spend more time with the paper is to tell more stories about everyday people.
December 26, 2001 |
"I bring you good tidings of great joy ... and on earth peace, goodwill toward men. " Luke's words seem strange this year. For Americans, it was a year in which more than 3,000 innocent human beings were slaughtered by other human beings. And yet the human spirit cannot be reduced to this single act of cruelty, or any other that has been committed over the ages. The yearning for peace and goodwill keeps manifesting itself, at unexpected times and places and in unexpected circumstances.