Reader Mail

This Bud’s for You

Celebrating prohibition's end and being 21. Harpy-in-chief. All up in a Huff. Plus more.

12.8.08

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DRINK UP!
Re: Jacob Grier's Sweet 21:

One should not be surprised by Mr. Bloomberg's overbearing actions to ban smoking in bars and restaurants and to mandate posting nutritional information in restaurants. He believes himself indispensable and smarter than the rest of us. Witness his conspiring with certain members of the City Council to undo the term limits law that New York City voters had put in place, so that he might run for an unprecedented third term. Hugo Chavez has nothing on him when it comes to their contempt for the people in their disgusting lust for power. Individuals like Bloomberg and Chavez who don't think the rules apply to them are dangerous.  
-- Paul DeSisto
Cedar Grove, New Jersey

Thank you for your honest discussion around contemporary prohibition. I'll be honest, as I first started into your article I figured I would end up e-mailing with admonishment because of the common conservative reaction to support the War on Drugs. 

Freedom means freedom to do the wrong thing. Maybe more people need to remember that.
-- Charles Campbell
Austin, Texas

Prohibition ended 75 years ago today. Those persons who have lost loved ones to drunk drivers are not celebrating today.
-- Michael Skaggs
Murray, Kentucky

THE BIG FIX
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Back to the Wilderness:

R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. certainly knows Chicago, "The City That Works." I am not so sure you'll be able to get a parking ticket "fixed" in the Oval Office, but Chicagoans are betting that insiders from Bridgeport (Daley's 11th Ward) will soon be taking over federal contracts now granted to Bechtel, Haliburton, Boeing, Blackwater et al.
-- Jack Hughes
(2nd Ward)
Chicago, Illinois

SHOCK AND PSHAW:
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Lying at State:

I read this piece on Mrs. Clinton with no little amusement. The author is clearly shocked -- SHOCKED! -- that such a prevaricator should become Secretary of State.

But please consider: for nearly a quarter of a century now, essentially all of our public discourse has been based on lies -- from Waco to warming, from Kosovo to carbon, from chads to churches, from gays to Guantanamo. Kennan famously wrote about Soviet society as completely dependent on continuing lies; we here now have Pravda and Izvestia without (yet) any Stalin.

So Mrs. Clinton is absolutely perfect as our public representative abroad.
-- Craig Goodrich
Las Vegas, Nevada

REFERENCES THAT STING
Re: Larry Thornberry's Major Major Steps Down:

Mr. Thornberry opens his fine essay with a reference to Catch-22 and goes to demonstrate the brilliance that W., Karl Rove, et al. displayed in putting up Mel Martinez for the open Senate seat from Florida. A more fitting novel cum movie might have been Jimmy Breslin's The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight.
-- Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York  

RIGHT IN TUNE
Re: Paul Chesser's The Other Side of Genocide:

The Left for years now has trivialized genocide by citing the 'genocide of poverty' or the 'genocide of loss of culture.' I would submit to you that the reason the Left says naught about Cambodia is thus; a substantial reduction in population and a return to a sustainable non-invasive agrarian life style is precisely the goal the Left has for all the nations of the earth. The fact that this happened 'over seas and far, far away' to the already 'over-populated Other' only makes it easier to dismiss.
-- Don

INEVITABLE -- BUT FOR REAL THIS TIME
Re: Quin Hillyer's Don't Confirm Her!

Let us remember that in February 2008 John McGadfly/McAmnesty/McBackstabber won the GOP primaries and guaranteed a Democrat in the White House. This is the result of exhaustion in the GOP. They were sent to govern according to conservative principles but they decided to behave like Democrats, (Mark Foley, Dennis Hastert, Tom DeLay and various other GOP inmates). The only way to get them back to first principles is a long trek through the desert. Perhaps four years or so.

Also, it would help immensely to find some way to get rid of Arlen Specter once and for all. George made a serious mistake backing that RINO in the primary.
-- Jeff Seyfert

While I recognize the concerns of those who consider Senator Clinton to be a shrill harpy who has never successfully managed any program, public or private, in her life, and her ability to offend and alienate even staunch allies and her history of scandals make her morally, ethically and professionally unsuited to the position of Secretary of State, I would ask that those of you who wish to support the troops reconsider your objections, as it is for these reasons that we should support her nomination. With Mrs. Clinton at State, the one cabinet department that President Obama would not dare cut will be Defense. After all, somebody will have to deal with the fallout from her inability to create or sustain peaceful relations, and for a professional Soldier, that translates to job security.
-- Mike Harris
MAJ, United States Army

CONSERVATIVES FOR NATIONALIZATION
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's Out of Gas:

Instead of lending $34 billion to the "Big Three" American automakers, use the money to buy controlling interest in Honda Motor, whose share price is at an attractively low level. Then slap GM, Ford, and Chrysler badges on the Hondas. American taxpayers and shareholders would be better served.
-- David Govett
Davis, California 

WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN HUFFING?
Re: Harrell Huff's letter (under "Trick Question") in Reader Mail's Defending the State From Sec. of State:

Harrell Huff asks a reasonable question: if the Depression of the 1930s ended with the massive government spending for WWII, why shouldn't massive government spending on roads and bridges end this one? 

Spending for infrastructure is probably a good thing to do on its own merits. New, restored and improved transportation systems would be a plus for economic activity beyond the immediate benefit of providing jobs. Nevertheless, such spending has been shown empirically to have a minimal benefit at best for the economy at large. Japan habitually responds with infrastructure construction in the face of its own economic troubles; but such moves do not address its recurring failures in its banking sector.

Why is this so? The first answer is that, even as large as the infrastructure "industry" is, it is simply too narrow as a part of the overall market to lift the rest of the economy. The second is a bit more detailed. It has to be remembered that the government has no money. It has to receive funds through tax revenues or by borrowing. In times such as ours, governmental building projects requires borrowing—borrowing which takes hundreds of billions out of the private sector making the private sector that much cash poor and constricts its own ability to borrow. Not a formula for economic growth.  

New jobs created in a narrow slice of economy would come at the expense of other jobs elsewhere across the rest of the economy. Money from the general economy would be transferred to a particular, individual part of the economy. And we aren't even talking about how one region of the country would benefit at the expense of others.

There are many things that can be said about the WWII war economy in terms of dollars and benefits. It is not often discussed is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. The war sucked men and women out of the workforce for military service and thereby intensely reduced unemployment.  This was a dubious benefit. A huge fraction of those men and women would never re-enter the workforce. Most of their loved ones would rather have suffered joblessness than to give up what did.
-- Mike Dooley

Harrell Huff writes, concerning the statement that the massive spending of World War II ended the Depression, "If massive government spending was successful in ending one depression, why would not massive government spending now on roads and bridges end this one?"

Mr. Huff is having difficulty wrapping his mind around the totality of the industrial mobilization undertaken by the United States in World War II. It encompassed virtually every sector of the economy, from agriculture, to steel, to automotive, to aeronautics, to electronics. The Government set prices, determined what would be built and by whom, and was simultaneously the principal customer for most industrial output. Many commodities, including food and gasoline, were strictly rationed (though this was more for purposes of focusing morale than actual need). At the same time, the mobilization of the military from roughly 150,000 men to more than 6 million men removed a significant portion of the surplus labor supply, to the point that women had to enter the industrial work force on a large scale for the first time (though less than 25% of single women worked in war industries).

The United States supplied not only itself, but most of its allies, whose industries were either prostrate or already operating at full stretch. The United States made its allies pay for their Lend Lease equipment with hard currency, in the process bankrupting them and helping to keep the U.S. economy afloat. To pay for its own wartime industrial mobilization, the government engaged in deficit spending on a scale that makes current bailout scenarios seem like chump change. This is was the reason for the ubiquitous War Bond drives, yet even then, by early 1945, the United States teetered on the brink of insolvency.

The U.S. was only able to sustain this level of effort because of a universal consensus that the Axis Powers constituted an immediate existential threat not only to the country but to Western Civilization (yes, I know the term sounds quaint today). It is difficult to conceive of any lesser scenario that would so focus our minds as to even consider allowing the government the degree of power it appropriated in World War II.

But every party must come to an end, and in the morning there is a hangover. Though it is little remembered today, there was a short but nasty recession after the War, as industries demobilized and factories had to convert back to consumer goods for which there had to be real customers and real demand. Fortunately, people were flush at the end of the war, and between the Depression and the War they had more than a decade of pent-up demand to satisfy. More to the point, as compared to the rest of the world, the U.S. was sitting on easy street, with an intact country, low casualties, and the only industrial base on the face of the planet not devastated by invasion or aerial bombardment. We soon became the suppliers of the world, a situation not likely to reoccur today.

To summarize, the situation in World War II was unique and not comparable to that of the United States today. Moreover, the world has changed significantly, and therefore using wartime methods to jump-start the economy simply would not work. This leaves aside the question of whether a "perpetual war economy" and the inducement of "wartime psychology" to address problems other than war are conducive to the existence of a free country. I leave that matter to Jonah Goldberg.
-- Stuart Koehl
Falls Church, Virginia

UPSIDE DOWN
Re: Steven Martinovich's Canadian Coup

America's attic is beginning to resemble America's cellar. Very odd goings-on.
-- David Govett
Davis, California

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