Stats for Our Times
I was drawn to two statistics on page 4 of your August 18/25 issue. The first was in “DC by the Numbers”: the deplorable 23 percent of US children living below the poverty line. As if that isn’t bad enough, I choked at the other number on the same page, in your editorial “Justice for Gaza”: the annual $3 billion in military aid to Israel. If we withheld those military dollars, which strengthen the so-called Iron Dome that makes the bully less likely to stop the bullying, we could use that money to alleviate the very sad state of some of our vulnerable citizens. Then American kids would not have to go to bed hungry, and we could save the lives of some of Gaza’s children as well.
Sex Data—the Worst Ever
Michelle Goldberg, in “Should Buying Sex Be Illegal?” [Aug. 18/25], mentions a study by Cho, Dreher and Neumayer that claims that countries with legalized prostitution have a greater amount of human trafficking than countries where prostitution is criminalized. This is one of the worst studies ever conducted on this topic. It is based on UN “data” that the UN itself cautioned against using for any purpose, because the figures on various countries were of extremely poor quality, making comparisons between them hollow.
The study also makes the fatal error of using figures combining labor and sex trafficking to determine the effect of prostitution law, whereas the proper comparison would use sex-trafficking figures alone. But even then, the analysis would be flawed because reliable data simply do not exist. Finally, the study reifies “legalization” by relying on legal statutes, ignoring the more nuanced issues of what type of prostitution is allowed in a country and, importantly, whether the law is actually implemented and enforced.
What Will Be Left of Texas?
Suggesting that Wen Stephenson [“Ground Zero in the Fight for Climate Justice,” June 23/30] advocate replacing tractors with peasants, Scott Baum [“Letters,” Aug. 18/25] only sows confusion. What else but “peasants” would he call the undocumented workers who toil in “the Valley” of his (and my) native Texas, a state so resistant to immigration reform and unions? The calamitous drought, withered crops and oil-contaminated Gulf should have alerted him to the need for change—say, by switching from petrochemical fertilizers to organic, and from gas-guzzlers to electric engines. With ranchers slaughtering cattle they can no longer feed or water, how about reconsidering reliance on that dead-end business? Baum seems intent on becoming not just The Nation’s “longest-subscribing Texas redneck,” but the last.