Letters to the Editor

Is it inequity that bothers Goozner, or the billionaires? Plus: Susie Bright's "self-serving" open relationship; the elitism of "Sensation" defenses.

Topics: Environment, U.S. Economy, Russia, Natural Disasters, Rudy Giuliani, Floods

Crash of ’99?
BY MERRILL GOOZNER

(10/01/99)

You can just about hear Merrill Goozner licking his chops in glee over the
prospect of an economic crash that would (supposedly) restore faith in
leftist economics and respectability to that old failed sage Karl Marx.
Not that I think such smug self-justification is limited to leftists (so
stop agreeing with me, Horowitz!), but it does help demonstrate the
pathetic nature of those who are obviously too caught up with their own
ideological agendas to be taken seriously for objective analysis.

Sure, downturns are always
a possibility for which it would ideally behoove us to be prepared.
Still, I’m not sweating it over the fact that there’s 268 billionaires
in the country, and anyone who is is probably more motivated by envy
and/or the wet dream of vindication than by authentic concern.

– David Lichtenberg

What a welcome respite from
the usual Rising-Market-Forever drumbeat that characterizes the discourse of
most economy pundits these days. Goozner’s sobering assessment should be a
must-read for politicians and investors alike.

– Margaret McShane

Brewster, Mass.

Goozner seems aghast that the wealthiest 400 Americans have a larger
net worth than 1.2 billion Chinese. Why anyone would be surprised or
concerned about that leaves me puzzled. Americans live in a free
society that rewards the resourceful and protects property rights. The
Chinese are hamstrung by a totalitarian government that subscribes to a
totally discredited economic system. I would think anyone with the
position of chief economics correspondent for a major U.S. newspaper would
be able to recognize those distinctions. But then I would never have
expected someone in that position to have as their economic gurus
Greider, Keynes and Marx, either.

– John Dillon

Winston-Salem, N.C.



Your story on income distributions missed a big point. The differences in
wealth is not a negative but shows the power of the U.S. economy.
Everyone is being giving a shot to make it. Wealth is not finite and
never will be, it continues to expand. The only thing we as a country
need to do is once again create a middle class in the inner city, no
different than when the G.I.s came home from the war. A
rising tide does float all boats as long as the
individual is willing to row.

– Bill Fox

It’s refreshing to see some recognition that collapsing
demand is just as toxic as runaway inflation.

But the pile of debt can be a useful tool for ad hoc redistribution of
wealth come the crunch; the cognizant authorities can declare a “debt
holiday” and in one stroke effect a very useful redistribution from haves to
have-nots with little political pain.

– Jim Ward

When did you stop abandoning your child? and other FAQs from the road
BY SUSIE BRIGHT
(10/02/99)

So Susie Bright has an “open relationship.” Isn’t that heartwarming? Given the spiritually vacuous, self-indulgent nature of “open relationships,” the thing that bugs me is that Bright is bugged that her parenting skills are ever brought into question. The sad thing is that people like Bright, men and women alike, seem always to be ready to claim that they are liberated, realistic, honest individuals, when in fact they are characterless hypocrites pathetically mesmerized by every lurid sexual fantasy that pops into their heads and too weak-willed to not act upon them. I feel sorry for Bright’s daughter. Someday she is going to find out about the faithless, self-serving nature of her parents’ relationship, and who knows how devastated and damaged she will be.

– [name withheld]

True “Sensation”
BY DANIEL KUNITZ
(10/02/99)

Why is it that every article written in defense of “freedom of expression” smacks of elitism? Daniel Kunitz correctly points out that New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has no right to withhold funds from a museum that is supported by the taxpayers. By the same token, the taxpayers should not be expected to subsidize an art exhibit of questionable merit that only the avant-garde elite would dignify as being “great art.” Those who want to view the Madonna surrounded by elephant dung, or dissected animals or anything else that masquerades as modern art, should pay for it out of their own pockets. Frankly, I would rather see my tax money go to improving our public schools, fighting crime and caring for the truly needy.

– Virginia Wolfe-Manuel
Clinton, N.Y.

The flood next time
BY FETZER MILLS JR.
(09/30/99)

The recent work by Fetzer Mills Jr. on eastern North Carolina’s disastrous floods is excellent. Mills goes right to the heart of the matter: Constant and in recent decades accelerating drainage of our wetlands — with little or no effective regulation by the state — has resulted in a Carolina coastal plain that is essentially designed for floodings of hitherto unknown proportions. Floyd’s Flood is its own event, but it is also a most severe warning about the shape of things to come, much sooner than later. Mills has spoken with some of our best and most realistic observers of coastal environmental policy, people who have been working hard for years to prevent nightmares like this from occurring, and I wanted to thank you for running Mills’ painfully clear and accurate report.

– Chris Frank

My family moved to Wilmington, N.C., five years ago. Since then I have read so many articles on hog slurry and individual hog waste spills that I can’t keep track of them. I am not at all surprised that this has finally developed into catastrophe; I’m only surprised that it took the national media this long to pick up on what was happening. Maybe now someone will actually do something about it.

– Eileen Conner


Bauer is reborn — as a feminist!

BY SUSAN CRABTREE

(10/01/99)

The reason that Steve Largent and John Ensign won’t be alone with
any woman who is not their wife is not that they are afraid they won’t be
able to resist temptation. It is because they want to avoid putting themselves
in a position where they can be accused of either sexual harassment or of having an
affair, à la Gary Bauer. Having a witness present at all times provides them
with protection from unsubstantiated accusations.

This may actually be a sensible policy for political candidates in an era
when political opponents and the media are willing to make accusations with minimal
or no proof, and of course when sometimes such accusations turn out to be
true (think Monica).

– Al Vyssotsky

Greenville, S.C.

For years conservative moralists have been telling us that “character is
what you do when no one is watching.” If this is true, what does it tell us
about people who will not meet or work alone with a member of the opposite
sex? Could they be lacking in character?

– Robert Boon

As a public figure,
Bauer doesn’t want to meet privately with women behind closed doors, even
as he wears his mantle of reborn “women’s libber.” To Crabtree, this
hypocrisy smacks of seeing “women as bewitching, apple-bearing Eves and men
as easy-prey Adams who crumble at the slightest provocation.” I don’t think
that’s Bauer’s rationale. Like the story of the original couple, there
is a third party here: the beguiling, serpent-like press corps that looks for
an Adam to fall whenever he emerges from behind closed doors. The mere
suggestion or appearance of impropriety causes many Adams and Eves to
scramble for the fig leaves, never mind that nothing actually happened. I
don’t blame Bauer one bit for his “no closed doors” policy, and I bet
other public figures of all political hues have the same practice as well.

– Gary S. Luttrell

Dayton, Ohio

Susan Crabtree strongly implies that a man (or a woman
presumably) cannot believe in
both the equality of women and the sanctity of human life from the
moment of conception. She says Bauer’s enlightened attitude toward
women in the workplace “sounds awfully progressive for a man who has
spent his public life trying to overturn Roe vs. Wade.”

I’m no fan of Bauer’s, nor have I any affection for the Christian
right; I vote Democratic. But I oppose abortion and think the Supreme
Court erred in Roe vs. Wade. My seemingly fractured viewpoint may be in
the minority, but I’ve never been able to understand why it is assumed
that one must believe in both or neither.

– Suzanne Cavilia

Glastonbury, Conn.

Russia on the
edge

BY JEFFREY TAYLER
(10/04/99)

As a journalist who has spent the last 15 years living in, working in
and suffering the maddening vicissitudes of the third world, I found
Jeffrey Tayler’s dispatch to be one of the most lucid and informative
pieces of writing I have read on Russia in many years. This is the kind
of dispassionate, clear-headed analysis that we need, not the nonsense
spewed out by the Henry Kissingers and other phony “thinkers” on the
subject; this comes from a man on the ground.

Tayler does well to emphasize the unknowable qualities and
quantities of a culture set far apart from the modern-day USA, and to
insist that it be dealt with on its own terms. If the great managers
had listened to people like him, perhaps they would not have
thrown away billions of dollars down the rathole of rampant corruption
in the name of promoting some high-minded nebulous concept like
“democracy” in a place where that has no meaning.

– Thomas Long

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