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America’s Dirty Little Secret: Sex-Trafficking Is Big Business PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Wednesday, 01 October 2014 05:10

America is in the grip of a highly profitable, highly organized, and highly sophisticated sex-trafficking business that operates in towns large and small, raking in upwards of $9.5 billion a year in the U.S. alone by abducting and selling young girls for sex.

It is estimated that there are 100,000 to 150,000 under-aged sex workers in the U.S. The average age of girls who enter into street prostitution is between 12 and 14 years old, with some as young as nine years old. This doesn’t include those who entered the “trade” as minors and have since come of age. Rarely do these girls enter into prostitution voluntarily. As one rescue organization estimated, an under-aged prostitute might be raped by 6,000 men during a five-year period of servitude.

This is America’s dirty little secret.

 
Holding My Nose for Term Limits: They’re Lazy and Misguided, but They Would Also Solve a Real Problem PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 04 September 2014 09:39

Bruce Rauner changed my mind on term limits. Probably not in the way he intended, but given my longstanding dislike of them, it’s still quite an accomplishment.

The Republican nominee for Illinois governor has a television ad promoting term limits in which he pings his November opponent, Governor Pat Quinn. “A half-million people signed petitions to put term limits on the [November 2014] ballot,” Rauner says. “Illinois voters overwhelmingly support term limits: Democrats, Republicans, and independents. But Pat Quinn, Mike Madigan, and the Springfield crowd don’t care what you think. They’ll say or do anything to keep power. They let term limits get kicked off the ballot, but come November, it’s our turn to kick them out of office.”

It’s a smart play to emphasize support for an ever-popular reform – and also disingenuous beyond the vague claim of “let[ting] term limits get kicked off the ballot.” Quinn has been a proponent of term limits for decades. And the June court ruling – which higher courts have let stand – removing the referendum from the ballot cited an Illinois Supreme Court decision from 1994, which dealt with a similar term-limit initiative by ... Pat Quinn.

But it was the Madigan reference in Rauner’s ad that got me thinking – and got me re-thinking term limits.

 
Davenport’s Planned News Site: A Bold, Unworkable Idea, Repackaged PR, or ... ? PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 06 August 2014 09:47

How would the City of Davenport have covered the recent vetoes by Mayor Bill Gluba of the Dock development plan and the St. Ambrose University rezoning request for a new stadium? And how would it have covered Gluba’s proposal to bring illegal immigrants to Davenport, which was – to put it mildly – poorly received by the city council?

These were the questions that came to mind with the revelation by the Quad-City Times’ Barb Ickes (on the same day as the vetoes) that the Fiscal Year 2015 city budget includes $178,000 for what she described as “a news-based Web site ... [to] shine new light on positive and negative city happenings.”

It’s clear that the site is an attempt to, at least in part, bypass the traditional news media and speak directly to constituents about good things city government is doing and positive developments in Davenport – without that pesky “other side” of the story. And, given our local television stations’ tendency to air unsourced and vaguely sourced stories, one might infer that another motivation is giving those broadcast news operations easily adaptable material that would warmly present Davenport.

But this idea was also pitched by city staff quoted in the article as “bold” and a “deep dive,” words that suggest ambition beyond marketing. As Davenport Business Development Manager (and former daily-newspaper reporter) Tory Brecht said: “As far as we can tell, no U.S. city has embarked on this effort.”

The news site is supposed to be launched in the next few months, and of course it’s impossible to pass judgment on it without actually seeing the thing.

Yet the twin aims of the initiative seem fundamentally incompatible, and it’s hard to envision how the nobler of these goals can be accomplished given the inherent lack of independence in a city-run “news” operation.

And that’s why I return to the Dock, the St. Ambrose stadium, and the Gluba immigration proposal. These were the city’s big stories last month, and one can’t envision a Davenport news site ignoring them while retaining its credibility. But I can’t for the life of me figure out how it would have covered them.

 
What I Don’t Like About Life in America PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 10:06

There’s a lot to love about America and its people: their pioneering spirit, their entrepreneurship, their ability to think outside the box, their passion for the arts, etc. Increasingly, however, I find things I don’t like about living in a nation that has ceased to be a sanctuary for freedom.

Here’s what I don’t like about living in America.

I don’t like being treated as if my only value to the government is as a source of labor and funds. I don’t like being viewed as a consumer and bits of data. I don’t like being spied on and treated as if I have no right to privacy, especially in my own home.

I don’t like government officials who lobby for my vote only to ignore me once elected. I don’t like having representatives unable and unwilling to represent me. I don’t like taxation without representation.

 
The Libertarian and Catholic Social Teachings PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by David S. D’Amato   
Wednesday, 25 June 2014 13:13

Roman Catholic leaders from Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga to Pope Francis himself have made news this year in their criticisms of supposed free-market economies, likening them to a form of idolatry that exploits and denies access to the poor. Because Catholic social teachings emphasize stewardship and aid to the less fortunate, clergymen such as Maradiaga have taken aim at perceived “structural causes for poverty.”

It is in identifying these causes that the cardinal’s fulminations against free markets become problematic. While he can hardly be blamed for supposing that something in relations between rich and poor is amiss, it is his faith in the positive interventions of the state that is the “deception.” Ironically, the “free market” that Maradiaga so sincerely denounces is itself a product of deep and sustained state coercion on a scale not often recognized for what it is. We must therefore distinguish between two ways of employing the phrase “free market,” lest we fall into the trap that caught Maradiaga – the trap of opposing libertarianism in principle without actually understanding the economic system it prescribes.

 
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