That'll teach 'emWe were all taught in high school...

the Forum

May 16, 1994

That'll teach 'em

We were all taught in high school economics that economic growth is good and unemployment is bad (the unemployed, of course, already know that unemployment is bad even if they dropped out of high school).

So how come every time the economy starts growing and creating jobs, the Federal Reserve raises interest rates and nips it in the bud?

Meanwhile President Clinton has been telling us how tough he is on crime in supporting "three strikes and you're out" and gun control.

Then he turns around and berates the government of Singapore for giving a juvenile delinquent who spray-painted cars four whacks on the behind (which is something that the boy's parents should have done years ago).

If our officials in Washington don't seem to know what they believe, where they stand or what they're doing, is it any wonder that the rest of us are confused?

Maybe what we need for sustained economic growth is some Singapore justice right here in the U.S.

The next time the Federal Reserve Board decides to raise interest rates, the board members should each get six strokes on the behind with a rattan cane.

Robert J. Yaes

Baltimore

Dodging lawsuit?

Paul "Bear" Bryant, the legendary football coach, used to say, "When you're forced to pass, a lot of things can happen, most of them bad."

Perhaps that's the situation in which Paula Corbin Jones' lawsuit against the president places Mr. Clinton.

The question is what artful dodge he will use to put out the fire he created for himself May 8, 1991 in a Little Rock hotel suite. There are several ways out, none of them to the president's benefit.

If Bob Bennett, the president's high-priced lawyer, claims the president cannot be sued, he in effect will be claiming Mr. Clinton is above the law. He isn't. The function of the executive branch, headed by the president, is to execute the laws, not rise above them.

If Mr. Clinton settles the suit out of court, either by pressuring Mrs. Jones to drop the suit or by paying her off, reasonable Americans will see it as an admission of guilt, no matter how the agreement is structured.

If he lets the suit go forward, we will have the national spectacle of a sitting president not only having to give depositions under oath but having his genital area, which Mrs. Jones claims has distinguishing features (a la Michael Jackson?), photographed for exhibition in court.

How will that affect the president's and the country's credibility at home and around the world?

Mr. Clinton might have artfully dodged the draft 25 years ago, but it will be interesting to see how artfully he dodges this one.

Chuck Frainie

Woodlawn

Looking away while evil festers

I asked a Croatian friend what the United States should do to resolve the conflict in Yugoslavia.

Her response was: ''Of course, I want the United States to help, but is it really fair for me to ask you or your husband to go to war for something that does not have any easy solution?''

My response was, ''Why not? He goes to war every day to fight the war on crime in this country; he's a policeman.''

It then dawned on me, why do we fight something that seems so out of control and complex? Why is it out of control to begin with?

Do we just turn our heads, forget, give up and walk away because it's too difficult to handle and to complex to understand?

Criminals commit crimes out of greed or need, not to satisfy a deep resentment for other ethnic groups.

Ethnic or national intolerance is the driving force, but not the reason, for wars and crimes. We need only look at the Los Angeles riots.

Serbia wants respect, power, territory, resources and money. Serbia's economy is poor in comparison to that of Croatia, and Bosnian Muslims are geographically and ethnically in the middle.

Greed, power, need (poverty), and/or a deterioration of moral values combined with opportunity stimulate crime.

How do we prevent crime? With fair laws, police and education of social and moral values. But most importantly, we must implement swift and fair action if the laws are broken. We need it all in order for the war on crime to work.

Don't we see that by not taking swift action on Serbia, we are making the same mistake?

We turn our backs on the victims, because we ourselves are not victims. Crimes occur to others, so we protect ourselves. Drug trafficking occurs in a house down the street, we look the other way, because we fear retaliation.

Americans are becoming a nation of isolation and detachment, not just from other nations and peoples, but from ourselves.

We set ultimatums, laws, and sentences, but do not stand by them. The criminals have gained the advantage.

Look at Serbia's advantages from rejecting ultimatums. They have satisfied their greed and need, and also their resentment from those they see as different. It's called discrimination in this country; it's called ethnic cleansing in another.

We do not punish to affront our own egos or failed policies; we punish in order to reinforce the laws.

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