Don’t eat the seed corn (and other reflections)

Sandra ClarkGossip and Lies

Somebody asked the other day, “Whatever happened to George Will?”

He is alive and well, continuing to write the twice-weekly column in The Washington Post that he began in 1974. He’s my favorite columnist.

This week he took off on a version of tax reform that requires universities to pay a tax on earnings from their endowments. Here are excerpts:

“For eight centuries, surviving thickets of ecclesiastical and political interferences, the world’s great research universities have enabled the liberal arts to flourish, the sciences to advance and innovation to propel economic betterment. …

“Public appetites are limitless, as is the political class’s desire to satisfy them. Hence there is a perennial danger that democracy will degenerate into looting – scrounging for resources, such as universities’ endowments, that are part of society’s seed corn for prosperous tomorrows.”

Agree or disagree, nobody writes like George Will.

Say what?

Reading Greg Johnson’s opinion column in the daily paper is often painful and sometimes excruciating. Take today, for instance.

He acknowledges the historic election of four women to Knoxville City Council by patting them on the head and saying, “How nice.”

Actually, he wrote, “The female winners share a background in community work. None have business backgrounds.”

The facts:

Gwen McKenzie is an executive with CVS, having previously worked for Covenant Health.

Lauren Rider has redeveloped both residential and commercial property in the Broadway Corridor area – not just financially but physically. She wields a mean hammer.

Stephanie Welch is a 17-year veteran and officer in the U.S. Army National Guard, with a day job as chief operating officer for the Great Schools Partnership.

Seema Perez operates a counseling business with her parents and helps her husband with their plumbing business.

But Johnson calls them neighborhood activists who lack business experience. He implies these women spend their days playing bridge and plotting to thwart business growth.

Another myth

Johnson also gives voice to a myth that’s incredibly unfair to Gwen McKenzie.

He writes: “At least one council member owes her seat to Rogero, who, to keep council diverse, endorsed the African-American McKenzie over her white opponent, Jennifer Montgomery.”

The facts:

Rogero endorsed McKenzie on the last day of early voting, yet McKenzie’s margin of victory was higher in early voting than on election day.

McKenzie: 214 (absentee), 2,474 (early), 3,433 (election day) – total 6,121 or 58 percent.

Montgomery: 190 (absentee), 1,629 (early), 2,621 (election day) – total 4,440 or 42 percent.

According to unofficial returns, McKenzie scored 60 percent of the vote in early voting and 57 percent on election day, following Rogero’s endorsement. Yet nobody is saying the endorsement hurt McKenzie.

Let’s just agree that McKenzie won across the boards; Greg Johnson is no George F. Will; and we don’t want to eat the seed corn.

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