The hype. From a June 26 press release from the office of Senator Peter Fitzgerald: “We are in the midst of the worst gas price crunch since the 1970s…. This crisis demands immediate action by Congress.” The facts. From North Carolina State economist Michael Waldon in Carolina Journal (April/May): In 1981, the average price per gallon of gasoline–in today’s dollars–was $2.61.

Build it and we will save. That’s the argument Robert Resek of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign makes for a Peotone airport, according to a July press release. The airport would cost little more than proposed capacity increases at O’Hare, and it would help break the duopoly United and American airlines have at O’Hare. “Economists have long understood that fortress hubs like O’Hare lead to higher airfares for traffic originating or terminating at the hub”–or somewhere between $280 million and $1.3 billion extra each year. “Real competition from a different airport will make a real difference in the prices we pay.”

“Reports of the death of indigenous cultures–as of the demise of anthropology–have been exaggerated,” writes University of Chicago anthropologist Marshall Sahlins in the 1999 Annual Review of Anthropology. “The surviving victims of imperial capitalism neither became all alike nor just like us…. Surviving indigenous peoples aim to take cultural responsibility for what has been done to them. Across large parts of northern North America, even hunters and gatherers live, largely by hunting and gathering. The Eskimo are still there, and they are still Eskimo. Around the world the peoples give the lie to received theoretical oppositions between tradition and change, indigenous culture and modernity, townsmen and tribesmen, and other cliches of the received anthropological wisdom.”

At least they got one right. Results of an unscientific legislative poll in a northwest Indiana district earlier this year, according to a press release: 62 percent of respondents felt that “both creationism and evolution should be taught in public schools”; 22 percent supported the “removal” of the teaching of evolution; and just 17 percent thought that “only evolution should be taught in public schools.” In answer to another question, 37 percent–a plurality of those responding–endorsed higher standards for public education.

Benchmark. According to a recent paper by Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn of Cornell University, “Gender Differences in Pay,” National Bureau of Economic Research, May: “Between 1978 and 1999 the weekly earnings of women full-time workers increased from 61 percent to 76.5 percent of men’s earnings. However, the ratio appears to have plateaued in the mid-1990s.”

Are farmers the most powerful industry in the country? “Prodded by the Clean Water Act, factories and sewage treatment plants [around Green Bay, Wisconsin] have cut back on pollution going into waterways by 86% over the last two decades,” according to the Joyce Foundation’s “Work in Progress” (May). But because pollution from farm fields has been less controlled, overall pollution to the bay has dropped by only 35 percent. And further factory cleanups will be expensive. So Bruce Johnson of the local environmental group Fox-Wolf Basin 2000 suggested a form of pollution trading, in which factories would “get credit for pollution reduction by paying the costs farmers would have to incur to divert animal waste, reduce pesticide use, and take other steps to protect the water.” These techniques for controlling farm pollution are well-known, but farmers haven’t employed them “either because they haven’t been required to or because they lack the money.” Just try using that excuse if you run an oil refinery.

In defense of Richard I. Roosevelt University’s Paul Green, reviewing American Pharaoh in the Washington Post National Weekly (June 12): “Unlike many of his suburban or urban high-rise critics hiding behind upscale zoning or security doormen, Daley never left his neighborhood and the people he understood best. His pharaoh’s home was not a castle with a moat but a bungalow with an alley. ‘American Pharaoh’ is a good but slanted work, and the definitive book on Richard J. Daley has yet to be written.”