The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 7, 1997 · Page 91
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 91

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, December 7, 1997
Page 91
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Page 91 article text (OCR)

THE PALM BEACH POST SUNDAY, DECEMBER 7, 1997 3E Banks put money to work - against you Keep Congress out of our custody battles VER.IMS0REOFIT... r MMBER 3...THATJS7HE, ONE TORT ROBKPMEf 4 By Denis Morgan Banks really like me a lot I know this to be true because they tell me it is true. Every time they send me a notice that they are raising my fees, they say they are doing it because they respect me as a customer so much. Much more respect like this, and I will go flat bankrupt I have just received notices ("Dear Valued Customer," is one sarcastic salutation) from two banks that are pleased to maintain a Monetary Weight Watchers program on my meager accounts. Helpfully, lest I waste it on my own, the banks are taking my money away from me for committing the heinous crime of doing business with them. It is a matter of fees. I have one account which I run for my local youth baseball league, that never has a lot of money in it Accordingly, it faces a swarm of fees. If I do not maintain a bulging balance, I will get nibbled and nicked in fees for every transaction I make and many that I do not make. Our only source of income is registrations from young athletes and a few sponsors. None of this comes by direct deposit. So I face an extra fee for putting the money in there myself indirect deposit, I guess. If I actually use this money to buy baseballs or whatever, I get to pay for the privilege in check fees. If I do nothing, I can watch the account total shrink before my weary eyes as a monthly service charge fee gorges on the principal. It takes registrations for a team's infield to cover the fees. Not to worry, in bold type they advise me, that they will not change my account number. Thanks. (Time was, we had a fee-free account. But then the bank changed hands and fees started to appear. Investigating, I was told: "Obviously you had a special deal with the bank. Being a community social organization, they probably gave you all these free services to help. Well, the computer searches the system, automatically correcting mistakes like that." Mistakes like that) My own bank, better put the bank that owns me also has sent a new advisory, trumpeting fees I now face should I actually use the card they assigned me unbidden expanding my ATM and debit accesses. (If that sounds like I have a clue what's going on, give me credit for the sound but not the substance. I don't get any of this.) The whole sophisticated world tells me that prearranged bill-paying is the way to go. The bank has sent advisories on how to accomplish the time-saving act I also can cut through the green tape to pay for my groceries or purchases with my debit card, I am told. Now, if I do that from my pitiful savings, I am looking down the barrel of new fees. I will get whacked with a $10 fee every time I do that more than a minimal half dozen times a month. Beyond the six, it'll be another sawbuck-a-pop each time I use a computer, telephone or fax to reach into my own savings for such things. Fortunately, it is too complicated for me to prearrange to pay my bills electronically or charge it out from my savings. So they'll have to find other ways to fee me. No problem. There are fees on everything. My bank sometimes has fees if you use a teller, fees if you use a machine instead. They charge if you use someone else's ATM machine more than a time or two, and never mind that there are signs encouraging you to do exactly that. There are service charges for everything $7 on this account, $6 on that one. Write a check and it costs you a fee. Let the money sit idle and there's an Inactive Account Fee. Give up in despair and they'll come after you later with an abandoned property fee. There are fees to count your kids coins, fees if you are curious enough about how much money you have to ask for a balance. Bounce a check, and there's a fee. Stop a check, and there's a fee. There's a Returned Deposit Fee, whatever that might be. Challenge your fees, and my bank holds over your head a fee to examine your own records of your own money. Meantime, on most accounts they pay about 1 percent interest, and you'd be nervous that they'd charge you a fee for collecting it. Denis Horgan is a columnist for The Hartford Courant. A congressional resolution regarding child custody has fathers in a lather, and rightly so. On the surface, H.R. Concurrent Resolution 182 seems innocuous aimed at protecting children of divorce from physical abuse and emotional distress. But the resolution effectively eliminates fathers from the custody equation. It is the "sense of Congress," the resolution says, that joint-custody of children shouldn't be allowed if one parent objects. ; In real-life, where most women are awarded primary custody of their children, the resolution means a divorcing mother who doesn't feel like dealing with her ex can eliminate him from her children's lives. Yes, children can still visit their fathers under the resolution, but practically speaking, children and fathers lose each other in such limited arrangements. Visiting isn't parenting. Kathleen Parker t " , We all know that all divorcing women have only their children's interests at heart They're never motivated by self-interest. Not one woman in America ever would object to joint-custody without good reason. And .while we're at it, you can eat all the pizza you want without gaining an ounce. Given the current 50 percent divorce rate, the resolution means that many of America's children could grow up without fathers. Add to that number the 30 percent of children already born to unwed mothers, and we're breeding a generation of emotionally vacuous children. ' The linchpin of the resolution is domestic violence and the need to protect women and children from, guess who, abusive fathers. Translated, the resolution essentially says that since men are beasts who usually beat their wives and children, they should be denied parenting rights. That's, of course, probably a distortion of intent. But as family disputes go, distortion defines gender debate these days. For starters, let's agree that child custody is an almost unsolvable problem. Let's also agree that joint custody, though ideal in the abstract, can be a nightmare, both for parents who don't much like each other, and for kids, who would like to know where they live without a calendar. A quick review of our child-custody history reveals consistent incompetence. We were wrong when fathers had absolute power over offspring. We were wrong in assuming mothers always were the best caregivers during the tender years, though I still maintain that, with rare exceptions, infants need their mothers most. We have been wrong in the past two decades in assuming joint custody was always preferable. . But never have we been more wrong than we are right now as we devise ways to deprive children of their fathers. We don't need special resolutions to tell us abusive parents shouldn't have custody of children. That's a no-brainer, like saying you shouldn't drop babies on their heads. People who beat up their kids lose them, case closed. ! Under no other circumstance should a child be deprived access to either parent. That's what HRCR 182 would say if Congress really had any sense. B Kathleen Parker is a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel. I wish my predictions about China had been wrong By Wei Jingsheng Since I was released from a Chinese prison a few weeks ago, I have heard the same statement over and over. "At least in China's special situation," people say, "there's no need for democracy in order for modernization to be realized." That statement was not true 19 years ago, when I posted an essay on a downtown Beijing street corner known as Democracy Wall. In that poster, I stated that the policy of Four Modernizations (in industry, agriculture, defense and science) advocated by Deng Xiaoping and the Chinese Communist Party would be inadequate without the addition of a fifth democracy. That bit of truth landed me in prison, where I spent nearly 18 years. And in that time, my prediction that modernization cannot occur without democracy has been fulfilled. I remember that the year I was arrested, Deng told the Chinese people: "Important national matters are the consideration of the Communist Party leadership. Ordinary people need not say too much; they should just keep their heads down and work hard." To put this another way, a billion Chinese people should give up their human rights and freedom of expression if they want to enjoy the Four Modernizations promised by the Chi nese Communist Party. This, of course, will satisfy their most primary need: the modernizations of life. But I have never known the Chinese Communist Party to demonstrate any willingness to modernize people's lives. The economic accomplishments of China in recent years are actually filled with holes. China's economic miracle is already being eaten away by a new class of corrupt bureaucratic capitalists. Those public enterprises are now debt-ridden. To compensate for them, the government has delayed paying workers' wages and used bookkeeping chicanery. Many people have lost their jobs, and rural areas are not being eco nomically developed. Meanwhile, the dictatorial political system is protecting the corrupt bureaucratic class. All manner of legal and illegal means are used to soak the people dry and deplete the resources of Chinese society as a whole. What kind of economic miracle is this? All this makes me feel very heavy. I would prefer that my prediction about the Four Modernizations was wrong, but unfortunately it is now a reality. , B Wei Jingsheng is a visiting scholar at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. He wrote this article for The New York Times. Notable Quotes "A sports league does not have to condone or accept behavior that would not be tolerated in any other segment of society." NBA Commissioner David Stern, in announcing the one-year suspension of Golden State Warriors' basketball player Latrell Sprewell on Thursday for assaulting coach PJ. Carlesimo. Torn about what to call 'lovers' r u v Invites you to a f Invites you to a The Writer's Art special advanced screening on December 1 1 at 7:30. Enter to Win Complimentary Passes By James J. Kilpatrick ! Several weeks ago, in the aftermath of the death of Princess Diana, I was inveighing in this column against stories that identified Emad Mohammed al-Fayed as Diana's "boyfriend." Considering their ages and maturity, I thought the term inapt. ; The column kicked up a nice flutter of mail. I had mentioned such alternatives as companion, close companion, male companion, close friend, constant escort, and even beau. I liked beau. Because the princess and her gentleman friend were not exactly living together, I discarded the appellation of covivant. 1 A number of readers inquired about covivant. Had I invented the term? No, I have had to respond, though I happily would claim credit hhmmmmhhmm CLICK HERE Because the princess and her gentleman tor so splendid a coinage. To the best of my recollection, the word cropped up in I iy living wgetner, 1 discarded the appellation of 'covivant But Hiked 'beau.' bly in Montreal or Quebec at least 10 years ago. The lexicographers have yet to admit covivant to their Edinburghers, and those who live in Pittsburgh are Pittsburghers. I failed to mention that there is a Chaseburg in Hamburg Township, Wis., however improbable that may seem. Residents are Chase-burgers and Hamburgers. From all this I leaped to the surmise that people who live in Spartanburg, S.C., are Spartanburgers. That is unso. Half the town of Spartanburg wrote in to say that we are not Spartanburgers, we are Spartans! They accompanied their protests with a considerable deal of local history, from which I learned more about the Spartan Regiment of Revolutionary days (fought under Gen. Daniel Morgan in the Battle of Cowpens, 1781) than I really wanted to know. Now, to matters of greater pitch and moment: It is time to talk of the Doctrine of Notional Agreement. The doctrine developed about 1954 and has been widely adopted by grammatical heretics in the ensuing years. In the Dictionary of English Usage, the editors define it in this impenetrable fashion: "Notional agreement is agreement of a verb with its subject or of a pronoun with its antecedent in accordance with the notion of number rather than with the presence of an overt grammatical marker for that notion." After the 47th reading of that definition, the fog begins to lift, but examples better serve the purpose. Guitar Player magazine commented last year that "Only a handful of guitarists HAS profoundly influenced the development of fingersryle guitar." Converts to notional agreement would make it HAVE profoundly influenced. Headline in The New York Times in August: "25 Million Pounds of Beef Is Recalled." It would have sounded better to my ear to say ARE recalled. The Associated Press had it right in a photo caption in October: "A trio of orcas swim side by side in waters off of San Juan Island." Formal grammar would require SWIMS side by side, but if notional agreement contributes to ease of reading and clarity of expression, I'm not going to knock it. Should I add that a number of readers is sure to disagree? Or are sure to disagree? B James J. Kilpatrick is a nationally syndicated columnist. exclusive domain, but I surely would press for its nomination and election. The word carries a light and lusty ring, the faint fragrance of Chanel, the glow of a bedlamp, the shared scatter of Sunday morning papers. From Rita and Bob in West Palm Beach comes a friendly note: "We mature folk are chums. " A regular correspondent in North Charleston, S.C., votes for frequent escort. A reader in Bend, Ore., nominates consort. The happiest note of all comes from a 67-year-old Baptist widow who enjoys a loving relationship with "a wonderfully wicked Episcopal priest, age 72." And what is he to her? "He's my 'fella.'" Another piece of unfinished business has to do with place-names. In September, I gave a lick and a promise to a little book, "What Do You Call a Person From . . .?" I cannot say how I got the notion that the work had been published by Merriam-Webster, but I did. It was in fact published by Facts on File. I noted that people from Galesburg, 111., are known as Galesburgers, residents of Edinburgh are i,',:ii.i),jL-i2iix.i- orals imm mm rmmiifm m

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