Dan Rodricks, The Baltimore Sun
6:54 AM EST, January 24, 2012
Nobody asked me but . . .
This news, via MarylandReporter.com, might come as a shock to members of the General Assembly who believe the O'Malley administration is waging a "war on rural Maryland": A poll by OpinionWorks finds that 62 percent of registered voters in rural areas favor tighter regulations on septic systems while 57 percent favor "limiting the number of septic systems in rural areas." Statewide support for tighter septic restrictions was 72 percent, with support for limiting new systems at 69 percent. OpinionWorks conducted the survey in December, questioning voters in southern and western Maryland counties and the Eastern Shore. So if there's a "war on rural Maryland," a majority of rural Marylanders apparently think the enemy has a point.
What can we say about that Ravens game on Sunday? 'Twas a true breakout for Joe Flacco but a true heartbreak for Baltimore, a game we'd all like to forget about. And don't we wish we had a promising Orioles team to which we could now turn our attention? Ah, another winter without our team in a Super Bowl (and the New York Giants, defeated in 2001 by the Ravens for the team's only world championship, going to their second since then).
Meanwhile, the Baltimore Blast is 11-4, atop the Eastern Division of the Major Indoor Soccer League. So there's that.
Here's something to throw on the table next time you hear a Republican presidential candidate say the federal government needs to "get out of the way" of big business: A study by U.S. PIRG reveals that 30 corporations spent more to lobby Congress than they did in federal income taxes from 2008 through 2010. The companies — General Electric, Pepco Holdings, DuPont and Wells Fargo among them — are known as the Dirty Thirty because they made $163.7 billion in profits while paying zero in federal income taxes and collecting $10.6 billion in tax rebates. "Meanwhile," the PIRG report says, "they collectively spent $475.7 million in lobbying expenses for the three-year period." And you can bet cash money that a good bit of that lobbying was for tax breaks.
And next time Newt Gingrich or others under the GOP big top complain about food stamps or the nation's "welfare state," please note that there's apparently plenty of corporate welfare to go around, too. The PIRG study shows that 280 profitable Fortune 500 companies collectively paid a federal income tax rate of 18.5 percent, about half of the statutory corporate rate — and they received $223 billion in federal subsidies.
Fascinating history in hand: "Deluxe Jim Crow: Civil Rights and American Health Policy, 1935-1954," (University of Georgia Press) by Karen Kruse Thomas, a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of the History of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The book examines health policy in the United States in the early/mid-20th Century, with a particular focus on the dreary scene in the South and efforts by the federal government to improve medical delivery to the poor in rural areas. Of course, this was the Jim Crow South, and Southern Democrats called for improved health care while abiding "separate but equal" health services. Ms. Thomas looks at the tension between those who wanted to offer "Deluxe Jim Crow" and those who argued that separate-but-equal should not stand. While that argument raged in courts, the federal government did its thing and, Ms. Thomas contends, support for "separate but equal" health care resulted in the construction of badly-needed hospitals and the training of more black doctors. File this one under "ethical complexity and ambiguity" in the Roosevelt-Truman years.
By the way, Ms. Thomas reveals that "Deluxe Jim Crow" was coined by the Baltimore Afro-American in 1927 to describe how blacks could use the first-class compartment on the Memphis Special train that traveled through the segregated South. "Thurgood Marshall," she writes, "later applied the phrase to the southern states' attempts to shore up segregation by improving black school facilities."
Everyone raves about the crab cake at Faidley's in Lexington Market and, no doubt, it has been quite good for a very long time. But, at the other end of the market, in the arcade, I sampled the broiled lump crabcake at the Crab Pot and it was divine. (Make that "Devine," as in Paul, the Crab Pot's owner and top chef.)
Dan Rodricks' column appears each Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. He is the host of Midday on WYPR-FM.
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