Reader Mail

‘Tis the Season to Be Jolly

Even about Democrats who happen to be running to ruin our lives. Also: Government guzzlers. Writers and unions. Patent protections. Plus more.

12.4.07

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COOL TO BE KIND
Re: Jeffrey Lord's Merry Christmas to the Opposition:

What a great piece. Too often we forget that we are indeed supposed to love our neighbor and to wish them a Merry Christmas is part of that admonition. Jeffrey Lord is correct in everything he found nice about all the Democrat candidates and I thank him for reminding me.
-- Judy Beumler
Louisville, Kentucky

I'll bet Jeffrey lord wrote this on assignment -- he can't believe his sophistry. The primary lesson Clinton has taught her daughter is that an amoral life can bring untold material rewards and national and international regard. What kind of character instruction came,for example, from the Clintons' shameless lie that Chelsea sought to heal their marital estrangement by arranging for spiritual and emotional intervention by the reverend Jesse Jackson and by the subsequent revelation that during his counseling Jackson was accompanied by an assistant who was carrying his love child. (Did Clinton want her daughter to learn that illicit, adulterous sex of the kind engaged in by her husband was preferable to that of Jackson, because no issue results?) Even a moment's reflection must have convinced Jeffrey Lord of the untenability of his premises.

I could continue concerning the encomia conferred on the others, but I think it would be attacking straw men.

I will add, I've given up arguing that Richardson is a fat, transparent fraud -- if people can't see what's in plain sight, I give up.
-- Jim Wheatley
Harper Woods, Michigan

Jeffrey Lord mentions Barry Goldwater and Jack Kennedy's relationship in his story. Do know if he or anyone at your magazine has seen the movie Mr. Conservative: Goldwater on Goldwater? The movie goes into that subject and others very intensely. All readers of this publication should be advised to see the film and also pick up a new copy of The Conscience of a Conservative, by Goldwater. He was an American that we all seem to want to emulate these days, so a refresher course would not hurt.
-- C.C. Goldwater

I haven't read anything before that has truly touched my heart. This man makes me feel there is still hope for this country that I love dearly. I don't watch the news on TV anymore because I don't believe the media anymore. I have found myself coming to my computer and TAS for the best reported news I can find. I have always been a Democrat but find I have slid over to being a conservative. I am 72 years old and grew up very very poor. Lived for many years in an orphanage. Boy did I learn to love this country with WWII and the Cold War it was frightening. Because there is something different about America then many other countries that we have prospered and survived. I truly believe it's because we were founded with a deep belief in God. I love to read of our history, of our founding fathers and how we came to be. We are like a non-functional family at times. Things get crazy but over time it gets better.

Mr. Lord, it made me so happy to read your letter as I have had such strong (not so good ) feeling for a certain candidate on the Democratic ticket. I feel ashamed that I forgot my love of God and his love for all thank you for reminding me.

I wish you a very happy and blessed Christmas as I do people everywhere. Thank you for the pleasure you put in my heart. Keep writing!
-- Marie Simmons

Jeffrey Lord wants us all to be nice to liberals. I believe Lord is one of those delusional conservatives who believes in demonstrating to liberals that conservatives are not really fascists. Somehow, I don't think conservatives' acknowledging that supporters of (say) abortion rights are human beings is going to make much difference in Democrat voting patterns.

The problem with Lord's premise -- that conservatives are mean and must be nice -- is just to accept the liberal view of conservatives, which is why we end up with conservatives being blamed for the JFK assassination, the RFK killing, and so on. The spirit of niceness is fine in its place, but we ought not to become happy and clappy about every crumb that liberals dole out regarding our species status.

Lord admits, "The real goal of these liberals is a defense of what has evolved into the liberal status quo and the personal destruction of its critics. They want conservatives silenced." And we're to wish merry Christmas and happy Kwanza to these smear merchants? Should we all dance together around a Holiday Tree, or recite a disguised version of the communist manifesto under the mistletoe?

I think Lord forgets something Rush Limbaugh often emphasizes: conservatives get up every morning and find America and its traditions of freedom under constant attack by liberals (Christmas, Boy Scouts, marriage, etc.). This defensive position causes conservatives like Lord to worry about being thought mean or intolerant by liberals. But Lord should realize the futility of this by looking at Israel's example. This nation's attempt to defend itself is considered mean in some liberal quarters. Why can't they just be nice to all the lunatics who surround them? It's because in a war, you can only be nice if the other side doesn't desire your personal (or collective) destruction.

I never hear liberals saying they should be nice to conservatives, who are, after all, human beings -- allegedly.
-- C. V. Crisler
Gilbert, Arizona

Now that's chutzpah, Mr. Lord, or something akin to it, but more admirable. And, if/when Merry Christmas doesn't work, as it often doesn't, how about this? "Forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do!" Works for me.
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

GOVERNMENT GUZZLERS
Re: Doug Bandow's Killing Drivers, Increasing Costs:

A column after the true Libertarian's heart, Mr. Bandow's piece spotlights how close Congress is to killing-off the remaining presence of the U.S. auto industry, driving the final stake into Detroit's earthly existence, and pronouncing a death sentence on additional American citizens.
Has anyone even asked Congress where they get the authority to set CAFE standards, much less dictate to the manufacturers how motor vehicles can and cannot be made? I find that particular power listed nowhere in my handy-dandy pocket version of the U.S. Constitution. And, no, the interstate commerce clause only gives Congress the authority to regulate the movement of goods between the various states, not the ultimate end-uses of those goods.
-- Owen H. Carneal
Yorktown, Virginia

Between the Unions and Government it is amazing we still do have an auto industry.

What I want someone to ask one of the would-be Presidents is what will they do to open drilling in Alaska and off our own coasts. I am all for cutting back on buying oil from countries that hate us, we need to become independent from threats to withhold oil.

Our people in Washington seem to think they become experts once they are elected. Ethanol cost more to make than it saves in energy cost and mileage goes down. Let the market place work.
-- Elaine Kyle

Even though Mr. Bandow is absolutely correct about the danger that increasing CAFE standards poses, It is possible that he is wrong about the increase in Vehicle Miles Traveled as a result of higher CAFE standards. I would like to hear his explanation for the September release of Vehicle Miles Traveled because the total US volume in September 2007 is nearly identical to October 2006. How did this happen without command and control legislation from the government?

We are experiencing, nationally, a very unusual flattening of the consumption of vehicle miles traveled. Usually, a slowdown in VMT is concurrent with a recession and it is only a few months long. My theory is that this is related to demographic changes induced by Baby Boomer retirements.

Getting the Eco-Freaks to take responsibility for the death toll will be quite difficult. They won't even suffer the thought that their favorite regulations might be contributing to the decline of US car manufacturing. It is awful to be dependant on Arab oil but OK to be dependant on foreign car manufacturers?

Truck weight and length is creeping up in response to losses of transportation productivity due to congestion and speed limits set artificially low to improve air quality. Mixing larger trucks with smaller cars degrades crash survivability. The danger of mixing two vehicles going different speeds has been known for decades and can be mitigated with extra lanes. The danger posed by mixing vehicles of greatly differing weights is largely unappreciated because no one ever thought that we would allow the road infrastructure in terms of lane-miles to grow at a rate substantially below the growth of population increases or demand in the form of Vehicle Miles Traveled.

From 2000 to 2004, the rate of population growth in the U.S. would cause our numbers to double every 65.2 years. The number of lane-miles of roads increased over the same period at a rate that would allow them to double every 252.3 years. The space between vehicles is shrinking and the Eco-Freaks think that the human body and the cars should shrink with it.
-- Danny L. Newton
Cookeville, Tennessee

Mr. Bandow makes several very good points in his article.

Do we really want to be energy independent? I think that we should be, for a number of reasons the least of which is conservation of fossil fuels. Mostly, I think that we need to get off an oil economy. We are reaching the point (if not there already) that having our economy dependant on oil is dragging it down almost as much as taxes.

There are things the government can do. None of the reasonable government actions involves higher standards, CAFE or otherwise. If the government wants to make us energy independent (and get us off the drug of oil), it need only do a few things.

1: Provide funding to independent and university labs for alternative energy sources. These should include nuclear, solar, and hydrogen. An all Hydrogen fleet, including aircraft, could be realized by 2050 if we really wanted to be there.

2: Provide tax credits to those companies that start implementing alternative energy products. Major tax credits.

3: How about tax credits (and tax moratoriums) on alternative-based vehicles? Not the tax incentives for hybrids. Let's face it, hybrids aren't living up to their hype.

The simple fact is that if we looked at Exxon-Mobile and the other big oil companies and said "fewer taxes if you can give us hydrogen" and did the same with the Big Three, we would have hydrogen cars on the roads within five years. If we were able to look at consumers and say "cheaper across the board," we would see major turnovers between oil and hydrogen.

Do you really think Exxon-Mobile is the business of selling oil? Or are they in business to make money? Personally, I'm willing to bet they want to make money more than they want to push oil.

Rather than forcing us, the American people, to shoulder all the costs of "conserving energy," maybe they should find ways to encourage development. In the end, we still pay for it. But at least now we get more for our money, and not less.

You'll have to excuse me if I don't hold my breath for something like this to happen. I've come to the inescapable conclusion that the government is in the business of giving us less for our money.
-- Charles Campbell
Austin, Texas

While I fundamentally agree with the free-market emphasis of Mr. Bandow's 12/4 article "Killing Drivers, Increasing Costs," and with most of his specific CAFE criticisms as well, there are two weak points in his argument:

1) First point on accuracy: Raising MPG from 20 to 30 has the effect of lowing gas prices from $3 to $2, not to $1.50 (as stated in the article). Raising efficiency by 50% lowers cost by 1/3, not 1/2; it is a reciprocal relationship. It's just math. You'd have to DOUBLE efficiency (100% increase) to HALVE cost (50% cut).

Doesn't change the argument much, but why leave a weakness for opponents to exploit? (Can't you just see a lefty blogger crowing about "...Mr. Bandow's wildly inaccurate article...", as if the entire article were replete with error?)

2) Second point on a blind spot: Perhaps raising miles driven IS ITSELF A SOCIAL GOOD. More people getting to more places of their choosing -- what's not to like? (Whereas the article decries the increased fuel consumption and congestion resulting from the increased miles driven flowing from "forced" higher efficiency, ignoring the possible positive aspect.) I'm not saying this is NEARLY enough to overcome objections to CAFE, only that it leaves the article vulnerable to a charge of not being "fair and balanced."

Thanks for publishing Mr. Bandow's timely and important article!
-- Kevin Amaro

Ummmm...might want to check the math. Wouldn't going from 20 to 40 mpg, not 20 to 30 mpg, be the equivalent of reducing the cost of fuel from $3.00 to $1.50?
-- Lucy Hall

WORKERS AND WRITERS
Re: Jay D. Homnick's Are Republicans Getting it Right?:

The key term Mr. Homnick is missing is neutrality. The Republican Party is neutral respective to this union action. This is as it should be, let the market decide. The Democratic Party on the other hand is fully supporting the writers' union action without regard to the market place.

Which position is the better, support one part of the economy against another? Or let the market decide?
-- Wade Smith
Fredericksburg, Virginia

In his description of any union as "intrinsically a capitalist entity," Mr. Homnick leaves out one important detail -- in America, the unions are generally monopolies. The WGA is a classic example -- their arrangements with studios and such require that all scripts be purchased from WGA members. This means that anyone who wishes to write screenplays for movies or TV MUST be a WGA member.

So don't expect me to dredge up much sympathy for the WGA, regardless of how they're being treated (and it looks as if they are being treated unfairly), until they end their stranglehold on screenplay production.
-- Calvin Dodge

While I always enjoy Mr. Homnick's writing, he is miles off target regarding the Writer's Union and their strike. His premise, that a union is a capitalistic entity "sell(ing) labor to the company," is preposterous. Capitalism is about the free market. Why can't the writers sell their product on the open market to the highest bidder? It's likely because their salaries and benefits are artificially inflated by the force of the union's bargaining power. Keep up the great articles, Mr. Homnick, but lay off the Caesar Chavez Kool-aid!
-- Ralph Alter
Carmel, Indiana

"Conservatives, libertarians, and other free-market types would be better served by standing behind the concept of productive members of society organizing voluntarily to negotiate a fair price for their output."

Bull. How can Jay Homnick say that when so many writers are members of the writers union only because there are no right-to-work laws to protect them if they decide not to join. Since the days of the Wagner Act, labor unions are the antithesis of the voluntary organizations of Homnick's imagination. By the mere vote of 50.1% of the work force, all the others are forced to become union members -- that is, if they want to keep their jobs.
-- Peter Skurkiss
Stow, Ohio

You miss the point that to the extent that labor unions acquire political and economic power they use it to support bigger government and higher taxes. This is reason enough for a visceral Republican opposition to labor unions.

More importantly, you seem to misunderstand the very nature of American labor unions. You say, "Conservatives, libertarians, and other free-market types would be better served by standing behind the concept of productive members of society organizing voluntarily to negotiate a fair price for their output."

In this there would be little quarrel but they are not organizing "voluntarily." Unions under American labor law are monopolistic and compulsory -- exclusive representatives. Where a union is certified as a bargaining representative it is the exclusive representative of all employees, whether they want union representation or not. They do not "negotiate a fair price for their output." They negotiate terms that they impose on the output of all providers, whether they like it or not. In most cases they add insult to injury by insisting that all employees either join or support the union as a condition of employment.

This is a far cry from what conservatives and libertarians and other free-market types ought to be supporting.

Please consider taking a look at Why Unions are Still Powerful. I would be pleased to provide additional information along these lines if you would like it.
-- David Denholm

Mr. Homnick's column was so forlorn and pitiable that I had to reach for the tissues. Those poor writers, I am so touched by their plight. It seems to me that they must also assist Mr. Homnick in writing his columns, for this column is really below par.

I am distressed to inform Mr. Homnick that I could not care less if the writers never go back to work. I haven't been to a movie in I don't know how long. There are simply none that I would spend the gas to drive to see, much less pay to get in and sit down. I haven't watched a sitcom or drama on TV in almost as long as my movie drought, except for some of the shows from back in the 50s and 60s that come up on the classics channels, or the British mysteries that used to be on the Biography channel all the time.

Mr. Homnick mentions maids and steel workers in examples of folks selling their "labor" that we should support. I might be inclined to do that. I would actually care if those folks were to go on strike. I don't know how to tell you this, Mr. Homnick, but I am secretly hoping that the movie and TV on screen stars and all other off screen, behind the scenes, crafts and groups will go on strike also. Further, I would look forward to such an occurrence causing a perpetual, ever lasting strike. I fail to see how such an occurrence could possibly do anything except raise the level of our culture. It would certainly result in a turn for the better.

Gee, with any luck, maybe the management could go on strike also. And could we get the money men, such as Mark Cuban and other of his ilk to go on strike also. One can only hope.
-- Ken Shreve

BELOW THE BELT
Re: RiShawn Biddle's Carson's Last Stand:

Yeah, but the Colts won the Super Bowl last year. What more could you ask for?
-- Howard Hirsch
Dayton, Nevada

I'm a big fan of yours, but I thought that you publishing an article so critical of Rep. Carson while she's on her deathbed was in extremely poor taste. I have no more use for her politics then you do, but couldn't we at least wait till a little while after she has passed in order to criticize her? It just seemed wrong and unnecessary to me.
-- Cliff Smith

DOES NOT COMPUTE
Re: Viet D. Dinh's Yes to the Patent Reform Act:

As an inventor and entrepreneur, I find the Coalition for Patent Fairness consultant's commentary to lack any objective relationship with facts. No inventor agrees with The Patent Reform Act of 2007. No serial infringer finds any fault with that same flawed bill. Go figure.

The Framers' intent with regards to inventors comports specifically with rights of individuals not special interests such as the "Coalition for Patent Fairness." Patents, like copyrights, originate from entrepreneurs of thought. America needs to enhance, not devalue, their activities. Invention is not a zero sum game. Each disclosure adds to the sum of our collective knowledge base. Mr. Dinh's notion "that today's entrepreneurs face unnecessary and costly litigation caused in large part by a sharp increase in the number of low quality patents and legal rules" is laughable at best. To wit, what is a "low quality patent"? Is that similar to a "bad movie"? Entrepreneurs face litigation because of serial infringers, period.

Unlike Mr. Dinh, I believe our patent system should be vigorously examined not hastily "deformed." Because over a third of patents are issued to small entities and individuals the notion that The Patent Reform Act of 2007 will improve the system by allowing repeated challenges to issued patents unequivocally undermines the bargain the Framers made inviolate in the Constitution. It is the Congress that chose to divert the self-supporting applicant fees that pay for the Patent & Trademark Office the last time "reform" was promised in 1999. Patents must be enabling disclosures. Even competitors should access and review every filed patent and pending patent application, as the 1999 reforms enabled. But, Congress rightly needs to allow the Courts to make determinations of validity and value attributed to patents.

That Mr. Dinh has the temerity to assert that "patent trolls" are "speculators [that] profit at the direct expense of consumers and risk-taking inventors and investors" is patently false. And, even if they were, consumers do "not" buy technology: they buy goods and services. Patent trolls result from capitalist activities no different than purchasers of mortgage securities. They provide liquidity to an illiquid market. Why should an inventor be restricted in how to achieve a liquidity event over his/her property? Why should the government involve itself in on-going challenges to a property instrument? Why should an inventor have to make anything if he is best at inventing? Coke does not manufacture glass: Warren Buffet does not build factories.

I, for one, believe in reduced government involvement in our markets -- including the areas of patents. As an inventor I prefer to compete not complain. If Mr. Dinh is troubled by the success of inventors who invent today what is bought and sold tomorrow, perhaps he should consult the Coalition he represents to focus more on innovation and less on lobbying.
-- Scott Moskowitz
President & Founder Blue Spike, Inc.

Professor Dinh takes precisely the wrong approach to patent "reform." Rather than have a Constitutionally-mandated Federal agency perform its function fully and well, he urges inventors simply to invent less, and seek less protection on what they do invent. I urge Professor Dinh to stop producing lawyers, as we clearly have too many already, and bad quality legal reasoning is far more costly to the U.S. economy than a few more patents.
-- Lawrence A. Husick
Southeastern, Pennsylvania

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