“Organizations should focus on Black opportunity channels rather than on eradicating racism,” advise John Sibley Butler and Northwestern University sociologist Charles Moskos in their contribution to the new National Research Council report “America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences.” Drawing on the military’s relatively successful record on race, they argue, “The core issue is not White racism but Black opportunity….The Army model, which stresses opportunity, is preferable to the state of affairs at most universities where antiracism is promulgated, but Black presence is limited.”

Bumper stickers worth reading. From U.S. Catholic (January): “Tithe if you love Jesus; any damned fool can honk.”

Good news about taxes: Illinois has added an earned income tax credit pegged to the federal EITC for low-income workers. According to the Center for Law & Human Services (www.centerforlaw. org), “The Illinois EITC boosts the taxable income threshold. For tax year 2000, a single parent with two children would usually start paying taxes at $6,000 of income. With the Illinois EITC, that same family would not pay state income tax until their income reached $12,450.”

“Mad cow fits the classic profile of a disease likely to cause hysteria,” writes David Plotz in Slate (January 26). “Ebola, AIDS, and polio–three of the most flamboyant illnesses of the century–overshadowed deadlier but less flashy plagues, such as malaria, for several reasons. First, the hysteria-inducing illnesses usually affect young people and strike in particularly gruesome ways….Second, at the moment of the panic–before much is learned about the disease’s origin–everyone seems vulnerable, and it’s not clear that prevention is possible….But perhaps the crucial reason [fear of] mad cow grips Europe is its cultural resonance. Every culture gets the disease it deserves. Polio struck an America midway to urbanization. It was so threatening because it seemed vengeful confirmation that American cities were foul, murderous places. AIDS became an obsession because it nourished existing anxieties about the sexual revolution and gay rights. Mad cow is a rage because it encapsulates the dreads and frets of today’s Europe….Europe is a continent of Naderites, and mad cow is their nightmare, a disease that has spread because of poorly regulated, corporate-dominated, transnational agriculture.”

The Bronzeville boom. The Chicago Reporter’s survey (November/December) of 676 mostly residential properties between 35th and 39th streets, Indiana Avenue, and Lake Shore Drive found that the average purchase price rose from $61,087 in 1995 to $154,063 in 1999.

Sand in the gears of the Republican machine. Madeleine Doubek writes in Illinois Issues (January): “In 1988, George Herbert Walker Bush carried DuPage by nearly 123,622 votes. His son carried it by less than 50,000 votes.”

Of course, you can’t eat turf. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (www.news.uiuc.edu/ scitips) reports that the sales generated by the lawn-care, landscaping, gardening, and related “green industry” businesses in Illinois–$2.9 billion–exceeded the sales of traditional farm crops in 1999: corn brought in $2.6 billion, soybeans $2.1 billion, and hogs, pigs, and cattle $1.1 billion.

The hype. Joseph Bast of the Heartland Institute writes in a January 19 essay (www.heartland. org/galenorton.htm): “An increasingly radical left wing [of the national environmental movement], funded by a small number of liberal foundations (including Chicago’s own MacArthur Foundation) and tens of millions of dollars each year from government grants, will stop at nothing to shut down American manufacturing.”

The facts. Tom Anderson, executive director of the Save the Dunes Council, is quoted in a January 31 story in northwest Indiana’s Times (www.thetimesonline.com): “If any steel company in the region goes bankrupt and closes its doors, where will we be? The century of environmental degradation caused by the mills will be left behind a locked fence. It is certainly in our interest to have industry continue to thrive and survive.”