President George Bush’s tax cut of $1.3 trillion over 10
years has left many Americans feeling queasy about the priorities of his
administration. Consider, for example, that
the same amount of money could guarantee that every American born over
the next 10 years, regardless of income or race or family situation, would have
access to higher education.
This is not idle fantasy. The idea of so-called “baby bonds”
was introduced recently by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and brought to
U.S. attention by two law professors at Yale University, Bruce Ackerman and
Anne Alstott, in an Op-Ed article in The
New York Times. Mr. Blair’s idea is to give every child a bond that would
be worth $7,500 when he or she turned 18. Mr. Ackerman and Ms. Alstott suggest
that President Bush could have done likewise. For example, over 10 years, $1.3
trillion would finance an annual bond program of $135 billion. Each of the four
million children born annually in the U.S. during the next decade would receive
a bond of $34,000, which would be worth approximately $50,000 when they turned
18. That’s a good start.
We have a better idea. Why not fine-tune the professors’
proposal and provide 18-year-olds with $120,000 to give them a terrific start
in life? To accomplish this, a
cut-off point would be determined: Of the four million babies born each year,
three million would come from financial circumstances that would qualify them
for a baby-bond educational scholarship. Those three million would each receive
$45,000 in zero-coupon bonds. At 6 percent interest, that would grow to
approximately $120,000 by the time the child turns 18, at which point the money
would have to be spent on higher education, be it college or a vocational
school. It would be up to the government to decide the taxability of this
The results would be profound. Every 18-year-old in the
country would have a wealth of options currently not available. A
better-educated work force would add to the nation’s prosperity and greatly
reduce the need for social services and other government bureaucracies which
struggle to correct the failures of education. And the government would not
have to lay out a nickel until 18 years after
the program was initiated.
It has been a long time since America had a President who
truly aspired to greatness through improving the lives of every citizen. This
would be one way in which such greatness could be achieved.
It’s fairly obvious that Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and his
estranged wife, Donna Hanover, do not
particularly care for each other anymore, but why they have chosen to
air their private problems in public is beyond understanding. Their
lawyers-particularly Raoul Felder, who represents the Mayor-have engaged in
crude character assassination, and the principals have displayed none of the
discretion one would wish for in parents with impressionable children.
No divorce is easy, but apparently the Mayor and the
putative First Lady are determined to wage
an ugly full-scale war for public opinion. But neither can win such a battle:
The fact is that most caring and sensitive people sympathize with the two
Giuliani children, not with one spouse or the other. A divorce is not an
election, so the attempts to “spin” this matrimonial case reflect poorly on all
Mr. Giuliani exhibited incredible foolishness and
insensitivity by bringing his friend Judith
Nathan to Gracie Mansion. It is, after all, the home of the mother of his children and the children themselves. There is
no good reason to invite Ms. Nathan to Gracie Mansion, and Ms. Nathan
ought to have had the grace and common sense to decline Mr. Giuliani’s
Ms. Hanover, in the
meantime, should have moved out of Gracie Mansion months ago. Her marriage was
over, and since she no longer considered herself the city’s First Lady, it was
unseemly for her to accept the privileges given to a Mayoral spouse,
which include a city-paid staff. She and Mr. Giuliani could have shared residential custody of the children, as many couples
in similar circumstances do.
Instead of thinking through the issues, Mr. Giuliani and Ms.
Hanover are more concerned with scoring public-relations points at the expense
of the other. Their children are undergoing enough psychic trauma as it is.
Seeing their parents fling mud at each other in public can only make a bad
situation that much worse. The children are old enough to read newspapers, and
so are their friends.
Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Hanover should tell their lawyers to be
quiet, and should keep their own comments to themselves-if not for the city’s
sake, then at least for the sake of their children.
New Yorkers are not particularly shy about making money. It
is generally understood to be one of the reasons people live here. New Yorkers
are also famous for spending a great deal of their money in the pursuit of
emotional satisfaction, be it psychotherapy
or a house on the beach. New research is showing, however, that the
motives behind making piles of money may be the key to whether that money ends
up bringing happiness or sorrow.
Researchers at the
University of Maryland studied hundreds of business students and entrepreneurs to determine what lay beneath
the drive to bring home a sizable salary.
They found that those whose pursuit of wealth was driven by social climbing,
a lust for power or building up self-esteem
were unfulfilled emotionally, no matter how much money they accumulated.
But those whose desire for money was linked to a goal, such as supporting a
family, were found to enjoy a greater sense of well-being. The wish to earn
large sums of money is in itself value-neutral-what matters is the reason
behind it. As reported in the American Psychological Association’s Monitor on Psychology , the researchers
conclude that “a confident, able person may seek to earn a lot of money, but it
does not necessarily follow that money will be the only or most important thing
in this person’s life.”
Future research will have to be done in New York, of course,
to determine whether earning millions to
send the kids to Dalton or Brearley counts as supporting one’s family or
supporting one’s social climbing.
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