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Thursday, Feb. 24, 2005 09:41 pm

letters 2-24-05

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Send letters to: Letters, Illinois Times. P.O. Box 5256. Springfield, Illinois 62705. Fax: (217) 753-3958. E-mail: editor@illinoistimes.com

THE BIGGEST SHAME OF ALL

Dusty Rhodes’ recent article “Baby Trade” [Feb. 17] implies that adoption agencies put a price on the individual children being placed for adoption, with the children of color at the lower end of the price scale. This is a very complex issue and not one so simply stated. We would like to clarify how we charge for our services. The Cradle bases its fees for prospective adoptive parents on the program they choose, not on the race of the baby.

If a family chooses our Sayers Center as its program of choice — that is, indicating a preference for an African-American baby — they will pay a lower program fee. On occasion, circumstances are such that a Sayers Center family finds that the baby who comes to them is not African-American. In this case, the fee does not change. Similarly, families who plan to adopt through our traditional domestic-adoption program and who are not expecting to adopt an African-American baby sometimes find that the baby who was meant for them is indeed a child of color. Once again, the fee does not change on the basis of the race of the baby. Those families will pay the higher program fee.

The reality is that we make pricing decisions in our society all the time that take special factors into consideration because we believe that the public good will ultimately be served. Seniors receive discounts for many services. Health-care providers are mandated to discount their charges for services provided to Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries. The beauty of our country is that we are willing to make pricing decisions that will make services available to those citizens who are most vulnerable. There are many more African-American and special-needs children available for adoption than there are families for them. There is no shame in removing one of the most important barriers to finding permanent, capable, and loving families for them.

Rather than focusing our attention on those agencies that are working in earnest to serve all children regardless of race, ethnicity, or special need, perhaps we should focus on those agencies that routinely turn away pregnant African-American women or babies born with serious medical needs. This practice is the biggest shame of all.

Julie S. Tye
President, the Cradle
Evanston

DON’T VALUE CHILDREN BASED ON RACE

I read with great interest the article “Baby trade.” You are to be commended for exposing a practice among some adoption agencies and facilitators that, in the eyes of some, subjugates children of color to second-class citizenship. I have questioned the practice of charging reduced adoption fees for children of color since I began my social work career approximately 25 years ago.

We should not tolerate an industry that has created an artificial marketplace in which the value of children is based on the color of their skin. As a community, social work professionals should be outraged that children are presented as a commodity to be bought and sold based on supply and demand.

Mary J. Donley Howard
Springfield

HE ALSO PLAYS THE GUITAR! AND SINGS!

Thanks so much for the article [Tom Irwin, “Afrobeat is alive and kicking,” Feb. 10]. You don’t know how good it feels to have a well-written piece on us. We have been getting lots of press wherever we go, and there have been very few articles that I could actually use in a press kit because of such poor writing.

Marshall Greenhouse
Chicago Afrobeat Project

A CANCER ON OUR COUNTRY

I don’t know about other liberals, but I can’t — and won’t — agree with George W. Bush’s privatizing Social Security [see Seth Bohlen, “Letters,” Feb. 10]. If this happens, only rich individuals would benefit. In fact, Bush and his administration may use Social Security for racial and gender profiling. So, for obvious reasons, privatizing benefits isn’t really the best solution. Besides, Social Security only has become an issue because funding is running short and the reason why that’s happening is because Bush has used benefits to finance the Iraq war — a war that shouldn’t even be.

Because of Bush, America’s national debt is at an all-time high while low-income citizens are still living from paycheck to paycheck — and that’s if they even have employment. While he’s now asking for $85 million more to finance the war, programs are being cut and people are walking around without medical insurance. Even after 9/11, Bush hasn’t done any real work to keep our country safe. Otherwise he would be going after Osama bin Laden, not Saddam Hussein and imaginary weapons of mass destruction.

The Bush administration is a cancer on this country. To say that liberals could learn a few things from Bush is an insult to true-hearted liberals, as well as a slap in the face. If anything, Bush and his cheerleaders should be learning from us liberals. Maybe they’ll learn to be more compassionate.

Shermeeka Mason
Springfield

HYPOCRITICAL DEMOCRATS STRIKE AGAIN

Let’s take a look at what Democrats who currently oppose the privatization of Social Security were saying when there was a Democrat in the White House:

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.: “Most of us have no problem with taking a small amount of the Social Security proceeds and putting it into the private sector” (Fox News Sunday, Feb. 14, 1999).

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.: “Due to the increasing number of baby boomers reaching retirement age, Social Security will be unable to pay out full benefits. But the sooner Congress acts to avert this crisis, the easier and less painful it will be” (press release, “Reforming Social Security,” Sept. 15, 1998.

U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.: “Fixing Social Security is an urgent priority. It ought to be at the top of both parties’ agendas” (Byron Dorgan, “Fixing Social Security Must Top Both Parties’ Agendas,” Roll Call, Dec. 6, 1999).

U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D.: “I was at the Social Security summit at the White House, along with 40 of my colleagues, Republicans and Democrats. And there was virtual unanimity of opinion that we simply have to get a higher return from the Social Security investments” (Fox News Special Report, Jan. 20, 1999).

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.: “It’s a way of getting more money — a higher return on the trust fund — and is a prudent and good thing to do” (Nadler press conference, Jan. 21, 1999).

President Bill Clinton: “[Investing] will earn a higher return and keep Social Security sound for 55 years” (“State of the Union Address,” Jan. 19, 1999).

Hypocritical Democrats strike again.

Perhaps with Howard “Yeeeaaaaaarrrrrggghhhh!” Dean as the new DNC chairman, that will change. I’m not holding my breath.

Kevin Johnson
Chatham

BUSH’S WAR ON THE POOR

Where does one begin when trying to describe a government with a cadre of men and women who seem bent on dismantling more than 65 years of social, environmental, and financial progress?

President George W. Bush’s proposed budget would reduce, if not actually eliminate, funding for many programs vital to our citizens, including law enforcement, fire protection, environmental safety, low-income assistance, school funding, Amtrak, Medicaid, Indian schools, health care for the poor and disabled, and on and on. Where in our Constitution and laws does it say we must support an illicit war on the backs of those who are most vulnerable? Where is the compassion in “compassionate conservatism”?

Frank Herman
Springfield

DON’T NEED NO STINKING LAW

I still cannot believe that a Illinois House committee voted down HB 672, which would give Illinois communities the right to ban smoking in public places. It is not the bill’s failure that amazed me — it’s the outright stupidity that anyone needs a state law to declare this.

I can remember a time when smoking was allowed anywhere and everywhere, public and private, fire hazard or not. Through the years, this has changed. Did anyone ever ask why?

Any individual business establishment has the right to declare itself smoke-free — state law or not. [These businesses] merely need to develop the guts to do it. If a business is thriving with smokers, it will do so without them. If enough businesses declare themselves smoke-free areas, then this will be a smoke-free city — state law or not.

Linda Schrodt
Springfield

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