What do low-income single mothers say about marriage?

According to Kathryn Edin–who conducted almost 300 in-depth interviews with them in Chicago, Camden, New Jersey, and Charleston, South Carolina, over the past ten years–not what you probably think (Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research Working Paper #9, July 1999). “It is not that mothers held marriage in low esteem, but rather the fact that they held it in such high esteem that convinced them to forgo marriage, at least until their prospective marriage partner could prove himself worthy economically or they could find another partner who could. To these mothers, marriage was a powerful symbol of status and respectability, and should not be diluted by foolish unions.”

“Sacred cows are to be kicked, but they rarely can be killed,” writes Richard Posner, chief judge of the seventh federal circuit in Chicago, in the New Republic (August 16). “This one”–the doctrine of judicial review–“certainly cannot be killed. Although the Constitution does not say explicitly that a court can invalidate a statute or any other official act that violates the Constitution, such a power is implicit in the text, and it has been assumed, affirmed, and exercised for the last two hundred years or so. Moreover, there is no movement to repeal it, which anyway would probably require a constitutional amendment. The Supreme Court is unlikely to ‘discover’ that it has been usurping the authority of the other branches of government for two centuries.”

One out of nine Chicago Public School kindergartners in a random sample of low-income schools has been diagnosed with asthma by a doctor, according to a study by Evalyn Grant and others from Rush Medical College and Cook County Children’s Hospital, (Annals of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, August). That’s 10.8 percent, compared to nationwide estimates of the percentage of children with asthma of just 4 to 7 percent. Another 30 percent of Chicago children report having symptoms that could come from undiagnosed asthma.

“Increases in cigarette prices would lead a significant number of young adults to quit smoking,” according to a July economic study by John Tauris and Frank Chaloupka (“National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper no. W7262”). “In addition, policies restricting smoking in private worksites increase the probability of smoking cessation among employed young adult females.”

Not such a bad century after all. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report” (July 30), the percentage of children represented in U.S. death figures in 1900 was 30. In 1997 it was 1.4.

“Nothing symbolizes ADM’s political exploitation of Americans better than ethanol,” according to a 1995 Cato Institute report on the price-fixing downstate Illinois corporation (“Archer Daniels Midland: A Case Study in Corporate Welfare”). “Ethanol has become a magic obeisance button for politicians. Simply mention the word and politicians grovel like trained dogs, competing to heap the most praise on ethanol and its well-connected producers.” Why is this news now? Both of Illinois’ U.S. senators are now on this corporate-welfare bandwagon–in July Peter Fitzgerald urged the EPA to promote ethanol use and supported a measure setting aside $14 million for an ethanol research plant.

Good news you won’t hear from environmentalists. Extreme weather events in the U.S. aren’t increasing, says Stanley Changnon, chief emeritus of the Illinois State Water Survey. We’re moving to where they happen. In a paper recently published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Association, Changnon and his colleagues found no increase in thunderstorms, hailstorms, tornadoes, or hurricanes in the last 50 years. The increase in the damage they’ve done has been caused by people moving to damage-prone areas in the Sun Belt, not to weather changes that might be attributable to global warming.