One way to spot an honest car dealer, according to the newsletter Tirekicking Today, headquartered on North Francisco: “Check the help-wanted ads in your Sunday newspaper. The qualities a dealer seeks in a salesperson can tell a lot about the kind of treatment you’re likely to receive as a customer.”

How about sandbag bunkers around the offices in charge of assembly-line speedups and pay cuts? The National Safety Council’s December 9 Schaumburg seminar on preventing workplace violence will discuss such topics as “tactically setting up the workplace.”

“Remember that every time you patronize Gill’s [which sells beer in bulk for $4.08 a gallon at 47th and Woodlawn], it’s a consumer protest against the big-money machinations that will eventually blandify everything that you drink and eat in order to reach the widest possible market,” writes Tom Frank in Grey City Journal (November 5). “Down with Budweiser! Down with Coors! Down with beers that promote themselves with self-evidently false names like ‘Genuine Draft’ while running actual genuine beers out of the marketplace! And down with that godawful stuff, served by so many taverns, that leaves a visible chemical residue around the pitcher!”

When the McDonald’s-loving president gets into health care, guess what he leaves out? “Good nutrition can reduce the number of people who become ill and lower the cost of treating those who do,” writes Max Friedman in the Oak Park-based Vegetarian Times (November). But “nutrition advocates have been universally rebuffed when their ideas have been presented to the President’s Task Force on National Health Care Reform.”

“The general complaint is that the state’s child protection system does not work. In fact it works quite well,” writes James Krohe Jr. in Illinois Times (November 4-10)–“in meeting the needs of its actual rather than its putative clients. It keeps unemployment low in the helping professions, it keeps the costs of coping with social disorder agreeably low to the taxpayer, it provides a platform from which governors and legislators may trumpet their concern for the unlucky….The wiser policy would be to disband the [Department of Children and Family Services]. Child abuse is a crime, and might be better treated as a crime rather than as bad parenting, with intervention left to a specialized agency of law enforcement trained to recognize the difference.”

Why has the el gotten into trouble in the last two years? According to Ed Zotti (Chicago Enterprise, November/December): “At a time when rail was vulnerable because of deteriorating service, a weakening economy and increased competition from autos, the CTA boosted fares substantially, made riding the rail lines more expensive than taking buses and made the trains less convenient to use. The Loop flood [which shut the downtown subways for weeks] made things worse. The result: The CTA chased away 80,000 daily L riders it may never see again, jeopardizing the future of much of the system.”

The last independent military-counseling organization between San Diego and Philadelphia–the Midwest Committee for Military Counseling on East Van Buren (939-3349)–reports trouble raising its $18,000 annual budget. A combination of (comparative) peace and the economic downturn may bring an end to its 17 years of providing free and confidential draft, military, veterans, and preenlistment counseling.

“Even though women initiated protests, formulated strategies and tactics, and mobilized resources necessary for successful collective action” in the Southern civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s, their experiences have been largely ignored, according to U. of I. sociologist Bernice McNair Barnett in a recent issue of Gender & Society. Martin Luther King Jr. gained national stature following the 1955-’56 Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott. But, Barrett writes, it was “initiated and sustained by black women active in the community, including JoAnn Robinson, an English professor at Alabama State University. Georgia Gilmore, a cook and domestic worker, single-handedly organized the Club From Nowhere to raise funds to support the boycott. But when her employer learned of her activism, she was fired from her job as cook and blacklisted from other jobs in Montgomery.”

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.