Grassroot Perspective – April 10, 2003-It's a McMiracle; Begun These Linux Wars Have; Consensus Group Participants Respond To President Bush's Medicare Proposal; It's Time To Resanctify Colorblindness as Ideal

article top

“Dick Rowland Image”

”Shoots (News, Views and Quotes)”


– It’s a McMiracle

McDonald’s is experimenting with all-white-meat McNuggets. No more
McGristle and grayish McMystery-meat. Also on tap: new, bigger salads,
with dressings from none other than Paul Newman.

It is all part of the chain’s push to revamp its menu into something
folks actually want to eat, and thus get back in the black. Contrary to
food-police assertions that McDonald’s can just market itself to
profitability, the chain has to respond to a national palate that might
want something other than burgers and fries.

At the same time, burgers and fries are its bread and butter. The
restaurant can’t risk alienating its core customers who like their
reliable old McDonald’s. A nod in that direction can be seen in the
announcement that a move to lower-fat cooking oil for fries has been
delayed. That sounds like code for, “Our taste testers didn’t like it.”
(Maybe McDonald’s should jump on the “freedom fries” bandwagon.)

There are also big hurdles to trying to mix in more fresh fare at your
average burger palace. Fresh ingredients are more costly to handle and
to move than frozen and canned stuff. McDonald’s can’t make more by
losing money on its new menu items.

But hey — an edible McNugget has to be a winner.

– Begun These Linux Wars Have

You’ve got to hand it to SCO Group: The software company managed to find
some deep pockets amid the Linux open-source movement. SCO has sued IBM,
charging that IBM took some of SCO’s proprietary Unix code and grafted
it onto Linux. SCO wants a cool $1 billion.

This matter involves very esoteric computer stuff and is bound to get
only more abstruse, but the core lesson is that open-source software
cannot escape bad law. The SCO case may go nowhere, but its mere
existence shows that all the cooperative, open development in the world
cannot outrun lawyers.

If SCO succeeds in shaking some cash from Big Blue, it could unleash a
flood of such licensing suits over supposed intellectual property
usurpations. There have already been a few on the hardware side of
things, but with the economy dead in the water and corporate spending on
IT products still flat, suing a rival — or even a former partner —
might be one of the few growth opportunities for software companies.

Above articles are quoted from Reason Express March 11, 2003,

– Consensus Group Participants Respond To President Bush’s Medicare

Many organizations weighed in this week with their thoughts on the Bush
Administration’s framework for Medicare modernization. Here’s what some
Consensus Group participants are saying:

Grace-Marie Turner, Galen Institute Press Release — “What is needed is a
fresh breath of competition and consumer-choice to allow seniors to
decide for themselves what health plan they want, plans that will
include prescription drug coverage. It’s clear that President Bush wants
to bring Medicare into the modern age to give seniors more choices.”

Tom Miller, Cato Institute Press Release — “Medicare payments on both
sides of the spending equation (those going to beneficiaries as well as
those going to health care providers) need to be linked more closely and
comprehensively both to market prices and taxpayers’ willingness to pay,
rather than to hollow political promises and the administered price
controls that follow them.”

Bob Moffit, The Washington Times — Opponents are trying to confuse the
public with “a nightmare vision of seniors being barred from seeing
doctors they trust, thrown instead to the ravenous HMO wolves prowling
the cold, dark forest of corporate health care.To get a clearer picture
of the president’s model for Medicare reform and whether it’s something
seniors should fear, ask yourself: Have members of Congress and federal
officials designed and, for four decades, maintained an inferior
health-care program for themselves and their families?”

Robert Goldberg, The Washington Times — President Bush “articulated a
very specific plan, one that clearly moves Medicare — including drug
coverage – into the marketplace. At the very least, it is clear that the
president sees the growth of entitlements as a challenge that he must
and will deal with. But, in this regard, it appears that he stands
alone, even in his own party. Republicans have failed to think through
any portion of the president’s plan, from the issue of access to new
medicines to the growing problem of rampant entitlements. The sellout of
the president has been so rapid and so complete it is breathtaking.”

White House fact sheet on President Bush’s plan:

Above article is quoted from Galen Institute Health Policy Matters March
7, 2003,

”Roots (Food for Thought)”

– It’s Time To Resanctify Colorblindness as Ideal

By Mitchell B. Pearlstein

Affirmative action in higher education admissions started picking up
steam immediately after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in
1968. I would like to think it’s self-evident that whatever one thought
of race-based preferences at their start, or whatever one thinks about
them now, something cried out to be done to increase minority
enrollments at selective institutions back then, including the State
University of New York at Binghamton, where I was an undergraduate.

If I recall correctly, my alma mater enrolled a little under 3,000
students in the mid-1960s. Of that number, I don’t think more than a
dozen were black — and at least one of them was a remarkable fellow
from Zimbabwe, then known as Southern Rhodesia. So maybe there were a
grand total of 10 or 11 African-American students on a major public
campus in a very large state. This was neither good nor seemly, by any

One of the lines of defense used by affirmative action advocates in
those early days went like this: Taking race into account in admissions
was admittedly unattractive, but given our country’s past and continuing
record of racism, we had no other choice. Simple fairness, went the
argument, demanded preferences — at least for a while.

How long would that “while” last? In the vicinity of 30 to 35 years,
seemed the answer mentioned most often.

By the mid-1970s, I had grown so fascinated by the passions and
paradoxes of affirmative action in higher education that I picked it as
my dissertation topic at the University of Minnesota. What do I mean by
passions and paradoxes? Conundrums like the following, as captured in a
1977 report:

“Pursuing preferential admission policies would seem to be inconsistent
with our deeply held convictions regarding individuality, merit, and
personal responsibility. Failing to pursue such policies seems to reveal
moral and ethnic blindness on the part of the majority to the historic
and contemporary condition of racial minorities in American society, and
is therefore perceived to be contrary to humanitarian and egalitarian
themes within our national experience.”

Inspired by such on-the-one-hand but on-the-other-hand analyses, it
became increasingly difficult for me to write anything about affirmative
action that didn’t send readers on pretzeled excursions. I might be a
reasonably ideological fellow, but on this issue, my favorite color
shaded toward plaid.

Well, don’t look now, but it’s 2003, or a full 35 years since pronounced
racial considerations and preferences in almost all aspects of American
higher education began to take serious hold. We’re also within weeks of
the U.S. Supreme Court hearing a case involving the University of
Michigan that may clarify what is, and what is not, permissible under
the hydra headings of affirmative action.

Which is to conclude: The time has arrived to firmly retrieve the
fundamentally liberal idea that, when it comes to allocating benefits
and burdens, a public institution should hardly ever take account of a
citizen’s complexion. It’s time to resanctify colorblindness as an ideal
— though not just because a chunk of a century has passed.

What other, noncalendar reasons might there be to challenge racial
preferences? Just about every constitutional argument elucidated in all
the friend-of-the court briefs filed by opponents in the Michigan case
would apply. But, I hasten to add, I’m ultimately compelled less by
legal contentions and more by how affirmative action often stalls the
very people it intends to help fly.

John McWhorter is a brilliant and brave linguist at the University of
California, Berkeley. He’s also black and has written about how we must
eliminate race-based affirmative action not for “abstruse philosophical
reasons” or because it can be “laboriously interpreted as
discrimination” — but because it obstructs African-Americans “from
showing us that they are as capable as all other people.”

By requiring less of blacks, he continues, affirmative action cheats
them of “the unalloyed sense of personal, individual responsibility for
their accomplishments that other students so often can have.” More to
the practical point, McWhorter claims that as long as African-Americans
are held to abridged standards, their academic performance will be
abridged, too, as expectations exert an almost magnetic pull on results.

The question raised by this malign dynamic is politically tough but
straightforward: If race-based affirmative action is a sizable reason
itself why so many black students continue to do poorly in school, is it
realistic to imagine a time — no matter how distant in the future —
when it somehow morphs into a spur, rather than a brake, on more
substantial learning and progress?

Mitchell B. Pearlstein is President of Center of the American
Experiment, a conservative think tank in Minneapolis.

This commentary originally appeared Feb. 10, 2003 in the Star Tribune.

”Evergreen (Today’s Quote)”

“In this land where one’s religious affiliation is a matter of
less-than-lethal intensity, it’s hard to realize that it’s a matter of
life and very often death to multimillions in India, Pakistan and
Bangladesh, as well as being basic in Israeli-Arab warring. And for more
decades than London politicos like to remember,Ireland’s religious
strife has been making and unmaking British parliaments and prime
ministers. Maybe it’s not all bad that lots of us don’t feel so
dedicated to our respective faiths that we’re willing to persecute those
not sharing our brand of Enlightenment.” — Malcolm s. Forbes (1972)

”’Edited by Richard O. Rowland, president of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. He can be reached at (808) 487-4959 or by email at:”’ ”’For more information, see its Web site at:”’