Start your own Boy Scouts! That’s what University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein would tell gays and others discriminated against by private groups if he were on the Supreme Court. “Make no mistake about it, when the state commands that no person or private organization shall discriminate on the basis of X, it has imposed a uniform, monopoly position on how all private organizations should be organized,” he writes in a recent issue of Southern California Law Review. By imposing diversity on all private groups, he contends, antidiscrimination laws actually reduce diversity among private groups. “No longer is it possible to establish a new all-boys or all-girls school or college; nor is it possible for parents to pick between rival scouting organizations, one of which will admit gay troop leaders into its ranks and another that will exclude them.”

Why skyscrapers will continue to go up. A recent University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign press release quotes architecture professor Mir Ali as saying, “First of all, egos will always want to go higher.” Second, “with rapid population growth, land is scarce and expensive, particularly in big cities.”

Good news of a sort. In a September 28 press release, the Census Bureau reports that the number of children without health insurance coverage declined from 9.1 million in 1999 to 8.5 million in 2000.

Rethinking the Reformation. Back in the 1500s, writes Guy Davenport, reviewing the book Wide as the Waters: The Story of the English Bible and the Revolution It Inspired (Harper’s, May), “The hierarchy in Rome feared that placing the Bible in the hands of weavers and grocers would fragment the Church into a chaos of amateur theologians, wild enthusiasts, and illiterate exegetes. They were right.”

Prosperous small businesses get bank loans, the rest get to use their credit cards. “From 1996 to 1999, the rate of growth of [Community Reinvestment Act]-reported small business loans in upper-income tracts in the U.S. was 13 times the growth in low-income tracts and almost twice that in moderate-income tracts,” write Dan Immergluck and Geoff Smith of the Chicago-based Woodstock Institute in a Brookings Institution discussion paper, “Bigger, Faster…But Better?” (September). “In three of five midwestern metropolitan areas examined by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, small business loans declined in low-income tracts over this period, despite gains on the order of 20-30 percent in middle- and upper-income neighborhoods.” One more problem: bank mergers usually reduce the number of branch offices in underserved neighborhoods, and these branches are rarely replaced by new banks.

In one classroom out of 50 there was cheating on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills administered between 1993 and 1999 in the Chicago Public Schools, according to a statistical assessment by University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt and doctoral student Brian Jacob reported in Catalyst (September). “The statistical method Levitt and Jacob developed looks for improbable test score gains and unusual answer patterns classroom by classroom. High gains alone may signal good teaching; however, high gains combined with unusual answer patterns–for example, students who choose the wrong answers to easy questions but correct answers to hard questions–constitutes solid evidence of cheating….The data also told Levitt and Jacob that cheating is orchestrated by individual teachers not principals.”

What the president should have said. “It is important for the United States, which has a long and sorry history of both tolerating terrorists acting in our supposed national interests (such as contras in Nicaragua or the current paramilitaries in Colombia) and attacking civilian targets (from Hiroshima to Vietnam), to break out of the cycle of violence in this instance and set an example that we would want other governments to follow,” writes David Moberg in In These Times (October 15). “This is not because the United States has lost legitimacy to act because of any past misdeeds. Important as it is to understand how this country has fueled violence around the world (and not only by being its largest arms dealer), nothing the United States has done justifies the attacks made on the World Trade Center.”