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Early termination blues and outrages: a case study. Plus: Two John Edwards, both of whom lie. Fukuyama overruled. A Russian apologist. Plus more.

8.12.08

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WIRELESS AND POWERLESS
Re: Ryan Young's In Defense of Early Termination Fees:

Please allow me to present a different perspective to that presented by Ryan Young, based on my own experience dealing with Verizon Wireless. The problem with early termination fees is their lack of transparency and their use by cell phone providers to (a) deter customers from changing their service; and (b) keeping their customers on the hook despite inferior rates and customer service.

I had unwittingly become a Verizon customer when my previous provider was absorbed into the Borg Collective that is Verizon. At the time, I had been with the same provider for five years. Verizon arbitrarily altered my plan, since the plan I held under my old provider had no direct counterpart under their system. At this point, they restarted my clock without telling me. I was now on the hook to Verizon for a minimum of two years, though I was unaware of this fact, since the notice I received with my change of service was written in some incomprehensible jargon (and since I frequently have to deal with defense procurement regulations in my work, I know about jargon).

About six months on, my cell phone ceased to operate, due to really shoddy workmanship. I went to Verizon to get it fixed, and was told the model was no longer supported. "What?" I exclaimed. "This phone is only eighteen month olds." Sorry, they said, they no longer support that model, but they could either send it to the factory for diagnosis for a non-refundable $75 fee (plus any repair costs), which was more than the phone actually cost. Alternatively, they could "give" me a new phone of comparable value, it I would sign up for a new service plan with a new two year term.

Thanks but no thanks, I said. Please cancel my service immediately. I then walked across the mall to the Cingular (now AT&T) Wireless office and signed up for new and better service at lower rates (albeit still with a minimum term) and a much better phone, to boot. Here's where it gets interesting. By shear serendipity, when Verizon cancelled my service, they also terminated my automated payment plan. So, three weeks later, I got a bill in the mail from Verizon for $275, which was my monthly $75 service fee, plus a $200 early termination fee. I called Verizon and said, "What gives? I've been a customer for more than five years?" The rude customers service rep coldly informed me that the date of my service began when Verizon took over my original provider, and therefore I had to pay an early termination fee. "Go pound sand," I responded, tore up the bill, and went about my work.

After about three months, I started getting nasty phone calls from Verizon, then threatening letters. I have a thick hide, so I ignored them. Finally, they turned my account over to a collection agency, which I fended off for another three months. Finally, figuring that I had finally managed to cost Verizon more than it would be able to collect, I made an offer: I will pay my last monthly fee, but they can kiss their early termination fee and any late penalties goodbye. To my surprise, they folded, and I sent them a check for $75.

Mr. Young's article makes a couple of false assumptions. First, he assumes that phone companies build phones. They don't. They deliver service, and for that they have to put phones in the hands of their customers. Those phones are made by companies like Motorola and Nokia who are competing against each other to provide phones to the service providers. As such, they are constantly adding new features and driving down their costs. A top-of-the-line cell phone retailing for a couple of hundred dollars in fact costs the manufacturer about $20 to make. Development costs are no longer that steep, since the adoption of industry-wide standards and the maturing of the technology to the point that all improvements are incremental, not revolutionary.

For their part, service providers have long realized that they make their money not through phone calls (bandwidth is so abundant and the process so entirely automated that placing a phone call anywhere in the world costs--effectively--nothing, so that call minutes can simply be given away as an inducement to subscribers). Real money is made through value-added content provision: the games, television, text messaging, internet access, videos, music files and whatnot that go with the phones, for which they can charge top dollar. But to do that, they have to get the subscriber in the door, and the way they do that is by very low and attractive "introductory rates" for new subscribers, which, of course, go up after the introductory period is over. In this way, new subscribers are suckered into subscribing to features and services they seldom if ever use, for which the providers charge far more than their actual costs.

As the wireless market reaches the saturation point -- where a majority of Americans own one or more wireless devices -- competition among providers will shift from a fight for new subscribers (people without cell phones) to attempts to poach subscribers from other networks. As that fight heats up, early termination penalties become a critical tool for service providers, by providing a disincentive to switch, or at least to delay the switch for a period of time, during which myriad ways of retaining the customer can be devised (the simplest being to change the terms of service and slipping an incomprehensible notice into the subscribers bill that makes the change automatic unless the subscriber opts out).

So, at the end of the day, early termination fees are not about allowing technological innovation. That's going to happen anyway, due to market force dynamics and the competition both among providers and among device manufacturers. Rather, it's about keeping subscribers in thrall to their present service providers and creating obstacles to the free movement of subscribers from one provider to another based on cost and quality of service. Put another way, early termination are simply a means of restraining free trade in the wireless industry.
-- Stuart Koehl
Falls Church, Virginia

Mr. Young's article "In Defense of Early Termination Fees" I must say is interesting but only half right.

Yes, ETF's had a purpose. In the early years, phones cost $3,000 and up. Not only that but there was a huge investment in network resources to support the phone. The wireless carriers needed the assurance of ETF's to placate the suppliers of capital to build those networks.

Well now, the network is built out and the lenders have been paid. Phones, even the fancy iPhone, as a naked buy goes for little over a $1,000. Most others going for the south side of $500. But the justification for ETF's for the carriers has long since left the scene of the crime.

Yes, the carriers are subsidizing the cost of the phone through higher rate structures. But consider, what happens to you the cell user after the contract period is up and the phone cost amortized? Does your communication rate by that carrier drop? I would hazard to say it does not. This indicates that the phone subsidization is a marketing ploy to maintain rate margins. Not every person who has a phone upgrades at the conclusion of contract.

The subsidization not only affects the carrier's rate but the actual cost of the phone. Since the end user never sees the true cost of the phone, there is less pressure on the cell manufacturer's to produce really cheap phones. The effects are similar to those of third party pay issues in the medical field.

What would be the impacts if consumers paid the full boat cost of a phone? Two, one immediate, one longer term. The rate cost structure of the carriers would drop to a great degree. Possibly by half of the current rate. In the near term, yes, some cell phones would rise in price with longer holds by customers and less churn. But over the long term the price would fall to unheard of price levels as true competitive forces are brought to ground.

There is a corollary to this -- portable phones. Those portable landline wireless phones attached to the PSTN network. Ten-fifteen years ago these phones for a single unit were in the $300 per range. I recently purchased a three-phone set (master+base, two slave units) for less than $65 in less worthwhile U.S. dollars. The level of engineering complexity of these devices is on par with a cell phone's sans the camera. The same would be expected for cell devices in an open competitive market.

I close by pointing out that at least one carrier has smelled the coffee on ETF's. T-Mobile will begin offering a month-to-month service with no ETF's. T-Mobile hopes to capitalize on the California decision to the determinant of its competitors. If it catches on the other carriers will follow. Which tends to beg the question -- are ETF's a capitalization reserve effort or a marketing ploy to bolster retention levels? The answer is clear.
-- John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

Mr. Ryan Young's piece mourning the loss of innovation because of the Alameda County Superior Court Judge Bonnie Sabraw is on the mark. However, he hit the monster's tail, not its heart. The judge's ruling strikes at the heart of individual parties' right to make contracts, which are then supposed to be ENFORCED by our court system. When contracts fail to be enforced and to be enforceable, the strong will contract relying on the use of force or power to enforce their contracts to their advantage. The rest of us, will take what we are given, at their price, like it, and not say a word. This is not what our
forefathers, our fathers, or even, we had in mind. Good going, Judge Bonnie.
-- Dan Hirsch
Paris, Wisconsin

I'm still on the same plan, and the same cell phone, I started with. Maybe there are better deals and better phones, but I've never seen the need for anything more. Inertia conquers, I guess...
-- Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida

ENQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW
Re: John Tabin's Meet John Edwards:

We won't need a paternity test to find out whether this child is his. As soon as it reaches for a mirror, comb, and brush we'll know.

So much for Mr. 99% honest. Isn't it amazing how much crap and lies Edwards can stuff into that missing 1%?
-- Wolf Terner
Fair Lawn, New Jersey

Kudos to you Mr. Tabin for writing a superb article of this fiasco. Everyone knows John Edwards is lying. Issuing his "confession" at 4:30 P.M. on a Friday afternoon before the Olympics, he thought his story would die on the vine, but the National Enquirer and the rest of the media will not let it go simply because there are too many holes in his story.

At first I felt badly for Elizabeth Edwards, but she lies too. I guess it takes one lawyer to know another lawyer.

My hope is that the media will not let this go away, and knowing the pit-bull mentality that The National Enquirer has, I'm sure, as you are, that they have more information on this scandal and will issue it in drips and drabs. No, Mr. Tabin, this is not going away.

Again, thank you for so aptly enumerating and clarifying all his lies.
-- Anita Isaia
Murphy, North Carolina

It's a rather sad day when one owes a debt of gratitude to the National Enquirer, of all publications, for its dogged journalism on the Edwards affair. But we all owe the Enquirer a resounding "thank you" for exposing Edwards as a charlatan, adulterer and a liar to boot and for -- especially -- disqualifying him from further office. As for "mainstream" media outlets burying the story, who reads, watches, or cares about them anymore, anyway?
-- Peter R. McGrath

We need a replacement for the old existential question of "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" We should now ask, "How many times was the year '2006' mentioned in Elizabeth Edward's statement concerning her husband's affair?"

It was close to being over the top, and it is so painfully obvious that Elizabeth is playing along with this pathetic charade. No, I do not believe the affair ended in 2006. Stop insulting my intelligence.

Perhaps John Edwards needs to rethink his Two Americas. One America has its children living in the same home as their fathers; the other America's children live in homes with just the baby-mamas. Edwards has his feet in both.
-- Evelyn Leinbach
Colorado

In the 1970s when I lived in Virginia my wife and I attended a small local fundraiser for the Democratic candidate for governor. We were invited because prior to our marriage my wife worked for local Democratic candidates. After our marriage she realized the error of her ways. After hearing the candidate's speech my wife confronted him about something she disagreed with. Now, my wife was above average in looks and had loads of sex appeal. They were talking by themselves off to the side of the podium and (as my wife later related) he paid little attention to her disagreement but tried to 'hit on her.' She handled it very well by herself and brushed him off.

The Edwards affair reminded me of the incident. Fortunately the Virginia voters rejected the candidate. When Edwards initially ran for the Senate many of us saw through this phony but unfortunately not enough did. After just a couple of weeks in Washington, Edwards showed his true colors by rejecting just about every campaign promise he made. He would never have been re-elected. Now the country knows who John Edwards really is.
-- Don Werenko
Calabash, North Carolina

Mr. Tabin reports that "[a] McCain spokesman declined to comment when I asked him on Friday whether there's a partisan double-standard in how the media handles adultery rumors."

That they declined to comment is understandable since Mr. McCain himself cheated on his first wife in a similar fashion to John Edward’s adultery. And sure there's a double standard -- the media has trumpeted Edwards’s adultery even though he has no current political significance, while the media fails to mention McCain’s adultery even though his campaign for President has great significance.
-- Ron Schoenberg
Seattle, Washington

Betcha John Edwards take that mystical Paternity Test 'round the same time as his buddy, John Kerry, finally gets around to releasing his Discharge Papers.

That said, this dumb little fiasco again underscores the NY Times and their despicable friends in the media. I am NO Republican, but I find this ridiculous Management-of-the-News appalling, nothing less! They should hang their heads in shame!
-- frost

Keep you eyes on Mrs. Edwards; look again at the available video with her. Listen for lawyer talk. Just maybe, she has learned how to keep John's wandering eye on a short lease over the years as he learned how to be discreet...up to a point, much like Hillary.

Some women are very grateful to be able to pick for husbands good looking men for their own personal reasons, and psychological needs.

Every marriage is a contract of needs beyond mere love, that special glue supposedly strong enough to bind two individuals enabling them to weather the natural events life presents.
-- RJP
New Mexcio

I am puzzled about Edwards' timing of the confession. Had he fessed up last winter, wouldn't it have boosted his stock in the eyes of Democrat voters -- perhaps even put him into contention?
-- Dennis Bergendorf

John Tabin is wrong when he states that John Edwards has a "big credibility problem." When you have no credibility at all, you have no problem.
-- Arnold Ahlert
Boca Raton, Florida

GRISLY BEAR
Re: George H. Wittman's Showdown in Georgia:

Russia's actual objectives here are to regain the territories lost by Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin. The story gets that part entirely correct.

However, you must remember the old saying "Russia is never as strong as it looks. Russia is never as weak as it looks." It was mentioned that the Russian military excels at the "indiscriminate warfare at which they are so adept." This makes me want to laugh. The Russians are not capable of "discriminate" warfare. They have huge material and manpower resources but operate in a state of brutal incompetence that has not changed since Afghanistan. They line up their resources in a huge formation fire everything they have, which is quite a lot, and charge. Do not think that I am ridiculing this tactic. It is can be quite effective against a population that needs to be conquered or pacified.

However, against a professional military they would be decimated. Not necessarily defeated but certainly bloodied and repelled.
-- Jeff Seyfert

How can you possibly insinuate that Russia's Putin is behind the mess currently unfolding in Georgia? It is totally impossible. George Bush told the entire country, if not the world, that he had "looked into Putin's eyes and seen into his soul," and that he was a good man that we could do business with. Do you not remember that statement by Bush? Surely you are not suggesting that President Bush was wrong, or that he is an exceptionally poor judge of character, are you? Truly, if you are suggesting that, Michael Tomlinson will set you straight in a scathing letter to the editor. Of course our liberal troll, Mike Roush, would just perhaps agree with you, if that is what you are suggesting.
-- Ken Shreve
P.S. I am extremely disappointed in Mike Roush. My last two letters to the editor have gone un-attacked by him. I am feeling terribly left out, and my feelings have really been hurt. C'mon, Mike, surely I have said something here that is a code word or phrase for bigotry of some kind or another.

If Georgia is to remain free and independent, the West must act immediately. To not act will threaten the autonomy of all the small Republics in the neighborhood. And Russia acting in concert with Iran could establish a monopoly on oil and gas supplies to Europe and Asia, exacting perhaps a 25 to 50 percent premium to the market price, a sum that would dwarf the present transfer payments from the West to OPEC.

First NATO should meet in emergency session and offer temporary membership to Georgia and the other nearby Republics.

Second the U.S. and NATO should begin immediately supervising a cleanup operation in Georgia followed by new construction projects. Russia would be reluctant to continue its attack against an international presence in Georgia.

Time is of the essence. In another week, Georgia may be gone, swallowed by the Russian bear.
-- Howard Lohmuller
Seabrook, Texas

For years, Vladmir Putin has been doing everything in his power to consolidate Russia's power over many prominent former Soviet states.

Those from Russia and her neighboring countries who have been outspoken in their opposition to Putin's efforts to reassert the Kremlin's rule beyond Russia's current borders are increasingly falling victim to acts of violence or murder.

In Russia, the man who is wanted in Britain for the murder of a man who became perhaps the most high-profile anti-Putin activist has procured a representative position in government, one gotten with considerable help from Vladimir Putin when he was still president of Russia.

Russia is one of the leading suppliers of nuclear technologies to Iran.

Russia is the leading supplier of arms, fighter jets and submarines to Hugo Chavez, the largest supporter of the largest terrorist organization in the Western Hemisphere -- FARC.

Russia is one of the leading suppliers of arms being used by militias responsible for genocides and other horrendous crimes permanently impacting the nations of Africa.

Now Russia is invading Georgia.

If anyone from CIA or State has any problems accepting the fact that Putin is attempting to resurrect the U.S.S.R. while doing whatever possible to distract the U.S. with armed rebels firing Russian-made weapons the world over -- not to mention a nuclear situation in Iran -- may I suggest to them that the invasion of Georgia might be a tremendous example of symbolism associated with such efforts.

Gori, Georgia, is the birthplace of one of Putin's and other former KGB agent Communists' most sacred idols, Joseph Stalin.

My concern is that this symbolic activity will one day be recognized as the smoke-screen for an infamous flight from Saratov, Russia to Tehran, fulfilling the deliveries of nuclear war-heads to the mullahs there while the West was too busy monitoring other airspaces.

Really, this is all about as subtle as a damn hand grenade being delivered to one's table during Sunday brunch.
-- Michael S. Smith II
Charleston, South Carolina

Vladimir Putin's current excursion into the heart of the Caucasus gives new meaning to the song title "The Devil Went Down to Georgia."

The U.S. has been able to move a cadre of Georgian troops out of Iraq and back to their homeland to face the Russian invasion. A shame we weren't also able to send a flight of A-10 Warthogs to chew up some Ruskie armor. An even bigger shame is that we weren't able to force NATO in accepting Georgia and Ukraine as members. This would have stopped Putin and his minions cold.

The potential loss of these two democratic countries could well pose dire consequences for the West in the near future.
-- Jim Bjaloncik
Stow, Ohio

In 2001, George Bush "looked into Putin's eyes and got a sense of his soul." Putin, most likely, returned to Moscow singing "Bush has got Bette Davis eyes." The leader of the free world is a chump when it comes to judging character. Putin probably synchronized the timing of the Georgian invasion with the Olympic Games years ago.
-- Jack Hughes
Chicago, Illinois

SPEAKING OF RUSSIAN BEAR
Re: Matthew Omolesky's History Returns to the Caucasus:

I read this article with a mild amusement. Pretending to be a scholarly article on the topic of current war in Ossetia, it omits the most basic facts that do not fit into the author's scheme:

1) The war has been started by the Georgian side. The very first action was near-obliteration of the capital city, Tskhinvali, with hundreds of civilian casualties (Ossetia claims 1,500 civilians dead with no other reliable or unreliable estimates available)

2) 15 Russian peacekeepers were killed in this initial and unprovoked assault. The decision to attack the peacekeepers was a very stupid miscalculation on the part of Mr. Saakashvili (and certainly, "a blend of condescension, arrogance, and brazenness"). The Russian reaction to it was 100% predictable as it is completely unrelated to the not-very-democratic political system of the latter (just think of the reaction of the U.S. in a similar situation). The article is also conveniently omitting that this is the third time Georgia tried to resolve the Ossetia problem by force, that Georgia increased the war budget 30-fold in few years and is spending way more of its GDP on the army than the U.S.

The U.S. has enormous leverage with Georgian government, as we are bankrolling its enormous current account deficit. We should be using this leverage to discourage further military adventures of this kind, not helping to mop-up the results, as the author seems to suggest. Otherwise, we might eventually come to repeating the word of Kaiser Wilhelm, "How did it happen?" These words were spoken when the old Kaiser returned form the vacation in 1914 only to find that Germany has been dragged in to a major war by its lesser allies who happily interpreted Germany's a support as a blank check for settling some old scores.
-- Dmitri "Dima" Varsanofiev

The end of history does indeed seem to be eventuating, though not the end envisioned by Fukuyama. One can only wonder (with trepidation): What next? (Incidentally, though Russians profess a love for Stalin, they are now bombing his homeland.)
-- David Govett
Davis, California

An excellent assessment of the current situation in Georgia, if a trifle steeped in academia. Let me add a couple of other bits of information to the mix that just might simplify things a little.

Russia has been actively working to re-establish its Soviet hegemony for some time. It has been following a easily discerned plan. Russian leadership has been attempting to re-establish its borders at the end of the Romanov period. If successful, it will then attempt to re-establish its eastern European buffer zone of satellite states. This is one of the reasons that the Kremlin leadership fears the deployment of an anti-missile defense system in Eastern Europe. The Kremlin is not acting on a short term program here. This is a deliberate program to restore its Soviet era borders.

It was refreshing to see Mr. Omolesky point out that stepped up military action against South Ossetia by Georgian military units came as a direct result of significantly increased attacks against Georgian towns and cities outside of South Ossetia by Ossetian separatist forces. And, coincidentally, Russia just happened to have the military and diplomatic wherewithal to "protect its peacekeepers and citizens" nearly instantaneously. How its "peacekeepers" happened to be in such close proximity to the artillery batteries of the South Ossetian separatists which were the preliminary targets of the Georgian artillery batteries has not been reported.

Now the really interesting part of all of this is the fact that no United Nations member, including Russia, recognizes South Ossetia as a sovereign state [this is a saga unto itself]. Yet, Russia issued passports, and thereby de facto Russian citizenship, to a large number of the inhabitants of South Ossetia. This would be analogous to the United States issuing US passports to Christian citizens of Moscow and then claiming a right to defend their interests against the Russian government. This sounds like Russia had specific plans for the South Ossetian region, doesn't it. And like they believe that they can get away with it.

Now the cause for concern here is that Georgia has both mutual defense and anti-terrorist treaties with Western and former Eastern Bloc countries. What would happen should Russian forces invade uncontested Georgian territory is anybody's guess at this point. The US has already airlifted Georgian troops stationed in Iraq back to Georgia. This may dampen Russia's aggressive tendencies. They again, it may not. This could get very sticky, very quickly. Stay tuned.
-- Michael Tobias

BOBBY DEAREST
Re: David N. Bass's The Anti-Obama:

While Governor Jindal could be a great asset to a GOP ticket, top or bottom, he is wise enough to know that he needs more experience, yet on the Democratic ticket another, with little experience but great hubris, is running (possibly more in service of his ego than his country). Obama did give a great convention speech that launched his national debut. Jindal may very well do the same, but he will not need to obfuscate. He will be able to speak directly because he believes in solid and conservative policies that most Americans can embrace. Obama's history of incredible rhetoric hides his true beliefs. Or as Joseph Joubert said it so eloquently, "How many people make themselves abstract to appear profound. The most useful part of abstract terms are the shadows they create to hide a vacuum."
-- Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

Bobby Jindal will never be taken seriously outside of Louisiana until he ditches his embrace of the so-called Intelligent Design. Kinda hard to have confidence in his decision making skills if he can't keep his private religious beliefs out of the public policy arena.
-- Craig M.

TALK TO THE BUILDERS FIRST
Re: Erin Wildermuth's Nation Building 101:

If one takes Erin Wildermuth's hypothesis to it "logical" conclusions, Iraq would still be run by a psychopath with the ability to re-start his WMD program (unless one thinks 550 tons of yellowcake recently sent to Canada was "no big deal"), and Afghanistan by would still be run by a horde of psychopaths -- but that's all OK, because most Muslim countries would "love" us more.

Sometimes, love stinks.
-- Arnold Ahlert
Boca Raton, Florida

There is nothing more irritating than some greenhorn calling to the grizzled cowpoke breaking in a particularly troublesome spitfire, "You're doin' it wrong! That's not how you're s'posed to do it!" But the really galling part comes later, when the greenhorn finds himself atop a similarly difficult critter and cries for help, "This is too hard."

If you don't have any good ideas, better to keep yer trap shut. Less is more.
-- Dan Hirsch
Paris, Wisconsin

America's successful nation building in post WWII Germany, Japan, Italy and South Korea was in nations with histories of violence and aggression (excluding South Korea that experienced the violence of Japan for centuries). While polls weren't taken in these nations at the time we were imposing democracy on them I would dare say if free to speak the former fascist of the original Axis of Evil would have had a poor opinion of the US too. Hitler's offspring have consistently trashed our country when conservatives have been in the White House even though they've kept the Germans free and prosperous.

In Iraq one only has to look to the Kurdish lands to see the potential for progress in the Middle East. Our hope in Iraq isn't in the current generation, who we'll need shepherded like the Japanese on the road to democracy, but in the children who daily enthusiastically wave at the American liberators who are helping to build a new and better Iraq.

When the majority of Americans thought we could never defeat the Soviet Union Ronald Reagan the idealist did the unthinkable. While we must think strategically in our nation building we shouldn't cavalierly ignore the potential it has for securing our safety.

Nation building in defense of the U.S. is not only a wise investment it is cheap when one considers how disastrous bearing our heads in the sand and hoping things will somehow get better has been illustrated by the Carter and Clinton administrations failed foreign policies that created our current crisis.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Habbniyah, Iraq

GUEST LECTURE
Re: RiShawn Biddle's Trade School:

RiShawn Biddle's article about the state our schools in a global economy raises again the question of what exactly an education is.

The late Richard Mitchell (The Underground Grammarian) who spent years pondering this question, noted that all schools tend to have three purposes: socialization (keep quiet and pay attention), indoctrination (no smoking), and training (you need to know this to get a good job). Note that education in the sense of "know thyself" is not among these purposes.

Mastery of facts is not education. Nor is job training, acceptable behavior, or self-censorship in the face of social fads. This is conformity and docility.

An educated person can always find facts. Using facts, however, and understanding the difference between propaganda and argument while mastering one's actions and thoughts, these are more of what an educated person possesses. And, while they are entirely antithetical to the purposes of school, they are entirely relevant to the purposes of citizenship.

What is sad about many schools today is that they fail to achieve even their modest goal of job training. They are, however, astonishingly successful at turning out docile citizens.
-- William L. Roughton, Jr.
Washington, District of Columbia

ROUSH ROUGHED UP
Re: Mike Roush's letter (under "Give Him the Last Word") in Reader Mail's Family Traditions:

Don't believe I ever said no bid contracts are good or bad, you just kind of ran where you wanted to end up Mike. But in any case my intent on mentioning Halliburton and Blackwater in the same tome was to, (obliquely perhaps), mention that "bad public policy" is sometimes the only policy available. Blackwater is hired by State almost exclusively because they produce results, no dead State Department protectee. State will stab you in the back for political gain, but boy do they want their skins not perforated above all else! Halliburton was hired by both the Clinton and Bush administrations for the same reason; it was and is the only company in the world that can do what it does. In fact it lost huge amounts of money adhering to the contracts let by State, and when they (Halliburton) tried to sell the contracts through bids no other company would bid them. When there are no other bids possible to realistically get the job done typically government hires the company that can. Also typically true to form, Clinton who along with the MSM (and Mike) attacked them as greedy mercenaries after hiring them, this for political gain in domestic races pandering to the Marxist left. Interestingly the same false charges that were and are being thrown at Blackwater are near duplicates of the Halliburton "debate" aimed at Bush. Notice how the "debate" disappeared when Clintoon's hiring practices came to light? My point, and do have one, is that for all the caterwauling by the left (and Mike), in the real world some choices are forced on you by necessity, but only the left savages those that do the government a favor, loosing capital in the processes, for political gain at home.

Mike, you are entitled to your own opinion. You are not entitled to your own facts no matter what your "will" is.
-- Craig Sarver
Seattle, Washington

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