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MOLLY IVINS HOUSE OF FOOLS Extreme dumbness is becoming the hallmark of the House of Representatives. On March 20, the House adopted part of California’s infamously stupid Proposition 187, by voting to let states deny public education to illegal immigrant children. Please follow this carefully. California has an estimated three hundred fifty-five thousand illegal immigrant children in its public schools, and Governor Pete Wilson estimates that this will cost the state between 1.9 billion dollars and two billion dollars next year. Ain’t that terrible, ain’t that awful, great gravy, we’ve got to do something! So California, backed by Newt Gingrich and the Newtzis, proposes to give them no education, thus saving that excruciating two billion dollars a year. Excuse me, but did anyone ever stop to ask how much it will cost to NOT educate these children? Let’s see if we can figure it out. Let’s put three hundred fifty-five thousand children out on the streets with no educationcan’t write their names, can’t get a job, can’t even join the Army anymore without a high school diploma. Knowing, as we do, that Hispanics have a strong family structure and a strong work ethic, we can still count on the great majority of these illiterate citizens to go out and find work mowing lawns, doing dishes and cleaning out septic tankswhen they could have become teachers, physicists or dry cleaners making big bucks and paying lots of taxes. But we must admit that some percentage of them, unable to find any work at all, will inevitably turn to crime. Let’s say that fifteen percent of this illiterate pool will become criminals; that’s fifty-three thousand two hundred and fifty more bad guys on the streets. It costs California an estimated forty thousand dollars keep a convict in prison, so that’s 2.13 billion dollars a year. The length of sentences will vary according to the seriousness of the crimes committed, but with threestrikes-and-you’re-out \(another piece of will be doing life for minor crimes. Some of these illiterate criminals will have produced children before being sent to the slammer, so you have to count in welfare costs as well. So now we’re looking at some truly impressive numbers. Molly Ivins is a former Observer editor and a columnist for the Fort Worth StarTelegram. And of course we haven’t even begun to estimate the wear and tear on their fellow citizens, who will have their property ripped off and otherwise suffer from the deliberate creation of an under-underclass with little hope of ever getting a piece of the American Dream. “There is no question that offering free taxpayer goods to illegals attracts more illegals,” said Speaker Gingrich. “It is wrong for us to become the welfare capital of the world.” Well, thanks, Mr. Speaker, but according to an article in the November 1994 edition of Reason magazine, illegal immigrants are not eligible in California for welfare, food stamps, etc. Their estimated use of medical services is pretty lowa fraction of one percent of California’s fiftyseven billion dollar budget. So their only significant cost to the state is education. And as we have seen, the cost of not educating children is considerably higher than the cost of educating them. CTILL ON THE STUPIDITY KICK, the Ii/House also decided to play doctor last month, outlawing a safe surgical procedure for late-term abortions. Is there a doctor in the House? No, just Sonny Bono. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposed the bill, because dilation and extraction is the safest method for abortions performed between KING OF GOOBERS Time once again to present my “Gooberhead-of-the-Month” Award. There is always strong competition for “The Goober,” which is awarded to those in the news who walk around wearing tengallon hats on half-pint heads. While politicians are our most-frequent awardees, this month’s award goes to the top guy at AT&T, Mr. Robert E. Allen. This chap punted forty thousand AT&T employees out the door early this year, saying the phone giant had to slim down to compete in the lean and mean world of global telecommunications. Then he Jim Hightower is a former Observer editor and Texas Agriculture Commissioner. His daily radio commentaries are broadcast nationwide, as he continues to preach the populist gospel. twenty to twenty-four weeks. According Dr. Allen Rosenfeld, dean of the Columbia School of Public Health and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology, fewer than 1.5 percent of all abortions take place after twenty weeks. Dilation and extraction is rarely performed, since it is used only to save the life or health of the mother or in cases of fetal abnormality “incompatible with life,” as Rosenfeld put it in the New York Times. That means a fetus with no brain or with the brain outside the skull. As the few women who have been through the procedure testified, the last people they wished to consult with during these terrible decisions are politicians. The House’s action is an insult to all women. Do they think that some of us might happen to waddle past an abortion clinic when six months pregnant, snap our fingers and say, “Oh, darn, I knew there was something I’d been meaning to get around to”? No one has an abortion at six months unless it means her life, or that she will never recover her health, or that the child will be hopelessly deformed and then die. Hoy,’ dare the politicians in the House intrude into a decision like that? What do they know about the complications of pregnancy for those with severe diabetes, or any number of other conditions, that make such decisions necessary? promptly reached over to help himself to a big, fat, gooey slab of executive cake. How fat was it? Allen had been making 6.7 million dollars, but as part of his compensation for offing the forty thousand AT&T workers below him, he will add another ten million dollars to his personal paycheck this yearabout two hundred fifty dollars per worker. It’s terrificthe more he cuts back on other people, the fatter he gets. This is why so many people are learning that “Boss” spelled backwards is double-S.O.B. Allen is so testy about getting so much criticism for chopping so many AT&T employees while taking so much for himself…that he put out an internal memo claiming that his pay is “in line with CEOs of comparable companies.” What a gooberhead. It’s not how much you make that defines you, but how well you do, not only for stockholders, but also for the people who work with you, for the communities you JIM HIGHTOWER 12 APRIL 19, 1996