Thursday, June 17, 2004

News and Commentary

It turns out that churches don't get a safe harbor, after all. The little tacked on piece to the Job Creation Act of 2004 was deleted in the House Means and Ways Committee. It would have reduced the taxes that churches must pay if they inadvertently engage in political campaigning. The deletion of this addendum is very good news for people who want to keep the church and the state separate. For the time being, anyway.

In Africa, AIDS and the traditional legal codes are hitting the widows especially hard. Inheritance traditionally passes in the male line, though women do most of the cultivation of the land. When a man dies of AIDS at a young age, he is unlikely to leave sons old enough to inherit his land which then passes to his brothers. The widow and any young children she has are then at the mercy of those brothers and their willingness to be charitable. Talk about adding insult to injury.

Finally, the United States and local pressure groups have succeeded in inserting provisions in the constitutions or provisional constitutions of both Afghanistan and Iraq which aim for a 25% female representation in the respective parliaments. Maybe it is now time to do something about the domestic situation? The percentage of women in the U.S. Congress is 14%, and the United States ranks 57th among 119 countries in the proportion of women in the lower houses of parliament. This makes me wonder why democracy is seen as being introduced from the United States to these countries.

The problem is at least partially in the two-party system, and the sorts of calculations it provokes in those who decide on the candidates. But there are other things that could be done to make it easier for women who want to run for office. If this was an important issue, that is.