Get More Perspectives on Contract
Responding to Ricardo Egozcue's column ("Contract with America Far from Fascist," Apr. 4th), I am forced to admit that there are parts of the Contract that I agree with, such as deficit reduction, and some of the tax cuts, to the extent that they can be reconciled with deficit reduction (and with the already overheated economy, etc.). And I concur with his outrage against the personal attacks, labeling, and stereotyping. But his strong statements in support of the Contract contain many exaggerations and many positions with which many of us would differ, and I would like to respond to a few of them.
To begin with, I count myself among the 75 percent of Americans who agree with Egozcue and oppose quotas, which unnecessarily constrain employers. However, I support affirmative action, and find it interesting that the column carefully neglected to mention the fraction of Americans who share this view. It can be shown that roughly 40 percent of jobs are acquired through connections to friends, relatives and other associates in management. Since minorities are extremely underrepresented in management, affirmative action has been constructed in part to provide an alternate pathway into such jobs.
Don't misunderstand me, though - affirmative action is neither a perfect nor a permanent solution to the problem. But until reality begins to approach Martin Luther King's dream of equality, or if you prefer, a perfect meritocracy, I challenge you to come up with anything better. To oppose affirmative action without proposing anything in its place can have no effect other than to further remove us from the goal of equality of economic opportunity for minorities and women.
Now let's take a straightforward look at the Republican budget. The tax cut package is clearly a giveaway to the wealthy. The combination of cuts in Aid to Families with Dependent Children] with their $500 per child tax credit is clearly a transfer of funds from the poor to the middle class and wealthy. Could you raise a child on $500 a year?
And deep cuts in aid to higher education save very little money and can only result in the denial of equality of opportunity to those of us not wealthy enough to pay the tremendous cost of college and post-graduate education. To quote Jesse Jackson, it would seem that the Republicans are actually trying to earn the reputation of "reverse Robin Hood."
It would be bad enough if the Republicans were merely acting on wrong motives, like favoring rich over poor, thwarting justice and denial of equality of opportunity. But add to this their utter incompetence at achieving their primary goal of deficit reduction, and you have the makings of a program truly worthy of the name, "Contract on America."
For those who do not consider reducing economic equality or attempting to provide equality of opportunity to be worthwhile goals, I invite you to compare the present situation we are in with that of the late 1920's. The Republicans were in power, wealth distribution was very skewed, and it was becoming more so as productivity rose steadily and laissez-faire was very much the economic fashion of the times, as it is today. As a result, the middle class lost many jobs, and the reduction of purchasing power resulted in lower consumption, more layoffs, and the situation grew progressively worse until a third of the workforce was unemployed.
Adam C. Powell, IV G