Charles Krauthammer is delighted that President Bush wants the U.S. to return to the moon and push on to Mars. But E.J. Dionne thinks the government should first solve the childhood asthma crisis. You may not know about that crisis, but something called the Industrial Areas Foundation reports that the percentage of children with asthma has more than doubled since 1980. The Foundation attributes this to “the overwhelming presence of roach droppings and rat urine in the projects and tenements that house these children.”
Dionne calls for government funding of “experimental programs to make our inner cities more habitable” — in effect, a return to the failed “model cities” program of the 1960s. But assuming that the asthma crisis is caused by roach droppings and urine, isn’t the real key to ending that crisis for the residents to clean up the droppings and urine?
Meanwhile, Rich Lowry reminds us that marriage is the greatest anti-child-poverty program in all of recorded history (I bet that very few married couples live in dwellings plagued by roach droppings and rat urine). Lowry notes that the Bush administration has proposed programs to strengthen marriage as part of the reauthorization of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. This sounds like a much better way to help children than more urban renewal and “model cities.”
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