Even if the McCain-Lieberman Media Violence Labeling Act of 2000 were constitutional, it would backfire, argues Ronald Rotunda, a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law, in the Legal Times (August 14). It would require makers of movies, video games, and music (but not TV programs) to label their wares according to the violence they contain. Rotunda notes that the long-standing voluntary movie-rating system has, if anything, encouraged more violence in movies. “Studios try to avoid garnering a ‘G’ label for their products–we live in a vulgar age, and ‘G’ is now the box office kiss of death. In the same way, one would expect the makers of music CDs, video games, and the like to avoid a similar designation. So if the proposed rating system does become law, it may cause producers of CDs and other audio and visual entertainment to add violent content in order to avoid the equivalent of a ‘G’ label.”

The world in our backyard–almost. According to publicity brochures, the “ten places of worship and practice” on the agenda for visits under the auspices of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions during the next ten months: Sikh Gurdwara, Indian Boundary Park (Native American), Midwest Buddhist Temple, Baha’i House of Worship, Islamic Cultural Center, Zoroastrian Center of Chicago, Chinmaya Mission, Saint Pius V Roman Catholic Church, Jain Temple, and K.A.M. Isaiah Israel. Not on the list yet: a Presbyterian church, a Santeria venue, the Moody Bible Institute, a Scientology room, or a revivalist storefront.

“Most people believe their neighborhood is an exception to the citywide patterns of youth crime,” reports the Chicago Council on Urban Affairs in One City (Spring/Summer). “Sixty-two percent say the level of youth crime in Chicago is high or very high, but only 23 percent say the level of youth crime in their neighborhood is high or very high.”

A little learning is a dangerous thing. According to a recent press release on a working paper from the Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research written by Erzo Luttmer of the U. of C.: “At lower education levels, an increase in education decreases support for welfare spending. At education levels that are beyond ‘some college,’ support for welfare spending begins to increase along with education. This is especially notable among respondents with a graduate or professional degree.”

“Most churches today implement their teachings on social justice or concern for the poor through charity, not organizing to give people greater power,” writes David Moberg in In These Times (August 21). But when they want more than charity, “Religious leaders are typically more attracted to unions as a means of uplifting the oppressed than providing a voice for skilled workers who make a living wage. As unions have devoted more efforts to organizing the poorest workers–janitors, hotel housekeepers, poultry workers and nursing home attendants, for example–unions such as the Service Employees, Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees, and United Food and Commercial Workers have taken prominent roles in the new labor-religion alliance.”

Enterprise zones don’t work, according to the most careful comparison of five states’ programs yet, published in the September issue of Regional Science and Urban Economics. The results are significant, since the EZ policy of giving businesses tax and regulatory breaks was conservatives’ only intellectually significant attempt at an urban policy. (In Illinois, of course, politics morphed it into a pork-barrel extravaganza.) Economists Daniele Bondonio and John Engberg found that EZs in California, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia had no significant impact on local employment as measured by the Census Bureau, regardless of how much money the programs offered or the method of analysis.

In the old days it was the dead who voted. According to an Associated Press story (New York Times, August 28), a pregnant Chicagoan shook hands with vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman, pointed to her belly, and said, “You have two votes right here.”