U.S. problems far worse than those facing gays

MIKE ROYKO

April 30, 1993|By MIKE ROYKO

It may be a politically incorrect risk to disagree with those hundreds of thousands of homosexual demonstrators who gathered in Washington, but, no, this decade definitely will not be remembered as "The Gay '90s."

That's because there are so many more people in this country who have far worse problems than do homosexual men and lesbians.

Consider the issues that were raised at the Washington rally: the right to serve in the military; repealing state sodomy laws; allowing gay marriages; specific civil rights laws for sexual orientation; and more money for AIDS research.

Nothing about education. That's because the majority of gays are well-educated. At least those who are white, which most are.

Little said about jobs and economics. That's because gays can be found in all professions and occupations. In some, they

appear to dominate.

And nothing said about poverty. That's because studies have shown that gays earn considerably more than the average middle-class American. They aren't raising families and trying to stash something away for college tuition, they have far more left over. Fun money.

Housing? In Chicago and other major cities, the largest gay concentrations are in some of the most expensive parts of town. Once again, because they aren't raising families, they don't have to look for three- and four-bedroom houses with back-breaking mortgages in the suburbs.

Federal civil rights laws based on sexual orientation? The lawyers can fight that one out, and I would think some of the arguments might be rather bizarre.

And the remaining state sodomy laws are about as sternly enforced as laws forbidding married couples the bedroom acrobatics of their choice.

Then there is AIDS, a truly terrible disease. But is it any more terrible than other diseases that kill many more people? Unlike many other deadly diseases, AIDS has known causes, so the spread can and should be reduced.

Now, let's look at a few other problems that we should be addressing in the 1990s. If we don't address them, the 21st century will find this country sliding into violent anarchy or an authoritarian form of government.

There are hundreds of thousands of young men in this country who would be rejected by the military. Maybe millions, and the number is growing.

Not because they are gay. Many dropped out of inner-city schools. Or if they graduated, they can barely read or write. Some have criminal records stretching back to their early teen-age years.

You can pick up your big city newspapers and read about them almost every day. Sometimes it is just a squib in the inside pages: 15-year-old killed in gang dispute; teen-ager dead in drive-by shooting; nice kid shot for his Nike shoes or Bulls jacket. When papers go through spasms of social conscience, we get longer stories on Page 1, a cheerful way to start the morning.

Or you can read about the Juvenile Courts clogged with child-abuse cases. Children in the clutches of dimwitted teen-age mothers and thug boyfriends. Children who are then likely to grow up to be dimwitted abusive parents themselves. You can project them as the street criminals of the year 2008 -- if they survive being bounced off walls, dropped out of windows, having a crack-addicted mother or one who can't pronounce prenatal care, much less know what it is.

But we don't have to limit ourselves to the terrifying problems of the inner cities. Out in Middle America, there are enough problems for a million new ulcers.

Entire industries fold. Plants are shut down, and the business shifts overseas. Are we to believe that all those 40- and 50-year-old assembly line workers are really going to be retrained by the government to be whiz-bang computer programmers? The only thing the government has ever been good at training people for is to shoot foreign enemies.

No matter how the government jiggles the job statistics, what we see is more temporary or part-time jobs with less long-term security, shaky pension plans, two-income households out of necessity and a gnawing fear of the future.

Meanwhile, our borders are a sieve, and we are trying to absorb millions of illegal aliens. Don't worry about that, we're told, because they will take the dirty jobs that Americans reject. Having run into so many college graduates waiting tables and driving cabs, I no longer buy that dirty-job theory.

Did I mention drugs? Why bother? The problem has been talked to death for years, and nobody knows what to do about it. The same for inner-city schools, public housing, assault weapons in the hands of street gangs, generational welfare, and more dangerous criminals than prison cells to hold them.

That was a very impressive turnout in Washington. But, sorry, everybody has troubles of their own.

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