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Answer Central

Readers raise many new questions, including: Will Jesuit implosion destroy college sports as we know it? Can Arthur Andersen be replaced? What was behind Tipper?

3.20.02

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BRIGHT LIGHTS
Re: John Corry's The Lights of New York:
Thank you for this marvelous article!

While I am an Art Historian and have found some of the past Christo projects interesting, this proposed project for Central Park strikes me as a new kind of terrorism for the citizens of Gotham!

"Haven't these people suffered enough?!"

It would seem to me that traumatized New Yorkers will need the undisturbed peace and sylvan tranquillity of Central Park more than ever and certainly do not need the spectacle of another NY landmark destroyed, however temporarily, by the hands of (a) Man with a "better idea."

I do hope that Hizzoner Bloomberg gets a clue.
-- Jennie Taliaferro
Dallas, TX

I would like to suggest for a memorial, that the World Trade Center site be used to build an Academy of Peace, on a par a with the existing military academies. Rep. Kucinich of Ohio has a bill in the Congress calling for a cabinet level Department of Peace; the Peace Academy idea is included in the bill.
-- Jim Holden

HIDING BEHIND TIPPER
Re: The Prowler's The Tipping Point:
Her half-minute in the headlines was a cover for the Pickering story in the South. The Pickering story is hard to swallow down there.
-- Annette Cwik

HANGING MODIFIERS
Re: Ryan H. Sager's Hard Cases Make Strained Commentary:
Yes, Andrea Yates should be hung -- for pity's sake. I had six children, I lived as she lived, home schooling my children, five boys and then a girl. I never crossed the line she crossed, but I can see how she got there.

What I can't understand is how anyone could be so cruel as to make her live with what she did. Does she even want to live? If she ever gets her mind back, without the deadening effects of drugs, how will she live with what she did? Far kinder to execute her.
-- Kate Pitrone

I believe that clothes are hung but people are hanged.
-- James L.J. Nuzzo

I am waiting for someone to say Rusty Yates, Andrea's husband, shares blame in this horrible affair. The last time I checked, it takes two people to bring a baby to life; and weren't the Yates advised not to have any more children for the sake of Andrea's mental health about two kids ago?

That man gives me the creeps whenever he appears on camera talking about his children and his wife and how much he misses them and talks to them. I was much happier when he was under a gag order. I think Russell Yates should be charged with something!
-- Judy Beumler
Louisville, KY

PILOT MARRIAGE
Re: Reid Collins's Right From Wrong:
I cannot disagree that marriage is not a cure for pedophilia, and I haven't read the "Pilot" editorial. Allowing married priests would increase the pool of potential priests, allowing the Church a wider selection of men from which to choose. Presumably, the percentage of pedophiles in this larger pool will decrease.
-- Brian Oberlander

Pedophiles, it would seem to me, would prey on any child, not just boys. Aren't we dealing here with homosexuality? Sure, it's a warped form of the phenomenon, but so was Dahmer's peculiar fillip. Why has homosexuality become simply a homogeneous alternative? Why is homosexuality not parsed and dissected and some aficionados accused as the predators they are? Am I not being PC? Perhaps I am committing a faux pas by accusing the priesthood of attracting men who prefer the company of men. Tell the truth, Mr. Collins, and defy the brickbats. Best wishes,
-- Bill Heuisler

ROCK SOLID
Jed Babbin's article -- Punk Conservatism -- was great. Keep up the good work. Thanks again.
-- Jack L. Pennington

GO FIGURE
Re: Michael Craig's Free Arthur Andersen:
If Mr. Craig has time, could he please help me out with these two concepts? (Thanks)

(1) Won't this be a prime opportunity for one of the other smaller accounting firms to pick up the slack and move into the "Big 5"? It with Arthur Andersen's demise, new firms will be popping up with all the extra employees let loose.

(2) Isn't the system correcting itself already? Companies are being penalized on the stock market for questionable finances, therefore they are beginning to open up their books. Andersen is being driven out of the market for its "questionable" business practices. Capitalism at work -- quickly, I might add.
-- E. Cameron

Michael Craig replies:
E. Cameron raises some good points.

First, it would seem to be a good time for someone new to take a run at the Big Four/Five but it's not going to happen. The gap between those firms and everybody else is huge and getting bigger. Those five firms audit 99% of the Fortune 500's financial statements and that has meant not only big profits but access to the even more-profitable consulting business. An anecdotal example: Andersen's consulting arm had long feuded with the accounting side of the business. It split, went public, and is now Accenture. Like a hydra, Andersen grew a new consulting business to replace it. How can someone on the outside compete with that? Likewise, as Andersen crumbles and its partners bolt, the remaining four behemoths will be in the best position to receive them and their book of business.

Second, the market offers mechanisms for correcting itself, but only over the very long haul. Andersen is falling apart, but other than this indictment for destroying evidence, it didn't really do worse than Ernst & Young did with Cendant's predecessor CUC International or Lincoln Savings & Loan. PriceWaterhouse Coopers is weathering its association with Lucent and Tyco. Peat Marwick will gain from Andersen's departure, but it messed up its audits of MicroStrategy and watched Conseco fall apart. Deloitte & Touche audited the books of Dollar General, which apparently had a mini-Enron of off-balance sheet risks.

More important, for the long-run health of the market, we need to get investor confidence back sooner rather than later. If we had no regulation of securities markets at all, like before the 1934 Act, investors would shun the public markets. Corporations, on their own, would eventually get the message and open up their books more, because they would need to do that to attract money. That could take a long time. Because we already have a system where investors trust the public markets, but are merely questioning whether that trust has been misplaced, a few well-placed rules to assure investors that the game isn't rigged can help the good times roll once again.

Personally, I advocate giving investors more bang for the bucks their corporations pay auditors. Instead of that form letter auditors provide, let's make them earn their money by providing a detailed narrative on the corporation's accounting policies, pointing out risks and weaknesses. I'd even consider tossing in immunity from lawsuit if they sufficiently warn of a risk that later comes to pass and wipes out investors.

ANOTHER CHICAGO CAMPAIGN TO WATCH
Re: The Prowler's Luis, Luis and The Daily Grind's Not Ready for Primary Time:
It will be interesting to see how well Corinne Wood performs in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Her media blitz in recent weeks focused primarily on her being the only pro-choice Republican. I even received mail from Planned Parenthood in support of her. Unless Illinois Republicans are more liberal than anyone suspects, Corrine will be conceding before the opening credits of NYPD Blues.
-- Paul Wayne Smith

Editor's note: Wood came in third in the March 19 primary, with 27 percent of the vote.

BOOK HEAVEN
Re: Jeremy Lott's Amazon Warriors:
Jeremy Lott nailed it with this one! As a bibliophile and chronic reader, as well as a scholar, I would be bereft without Amazon.com! They not only make sure my book "fixes" arrive in a timely fashion, but I, too, would be completely LOST without their online "browsing" features. Moreover, I have bought not only books, but books from AmazonUK, computer software, a DVD player, a vacuum cleaner and cookware from Amazon as well! To be fair, I tried to use Barnes and Noble online and they were HOPELESS.

In addition, over the last few years, I have watched almost all of the local, cozy mom and pop bookstores disappear, only to be replaced with huge B&N anchor stores. I like Amazon so much, I bought some of their stock after the 9/11 attacks to help Wall Street recover; I'm delighted to say that I recently sold my shares for double what I paid for them! I want to meet Jeff Bezos and shake his hand! Whereas Steve Case is another story. Thanks for stating something that needed to be said about two domestic dotcom titans like Amazon.com and AOL/Time/Warner.
-- Jennie Taliaferro
Dallas, TX

JESUIT FALLOUT
Most readers of George Neumayr's article "Jesuits Implode" probably don't realize the extent of the intellectual and moral chaos in Catholic education that can result from the disintegration of the Jesuit order.

Quite simply, the Jesuits are the dominant force in Catholic higher education. No one else is even close.

Most non-Catholics get their impressions of which Catholic colleges and universities are the most important from reading the sports pages or from seeing which schools are playing on television. Let's make a list of most of the Catholic schools which have won NCAA basketball championships. Holy Cross, San Francisco, Loyola of Chicago, Marquette, Georgetown -- all Jesuit.

Seattle University, school of Elgin Baylor and runnerup in the NCAA tournament? Gonzaga, alma mater of John Stockton? Jesuit and Jesuit.

The basketball power of Jesuit schools isn't simply an indication that Jesuits have a thing for hoops. Back before World War II, a lot of Catholic colleges were major football powers. The ones which played in the big New Year's Day bowl games -- Boston College, Fordham, Santa Clara, et al. -- were usually Jesuit.

Enough about Jesuit school athletic prowess. Let's consider the influence of the Jesuits on the legal profession.

The Catholic Church is a legalistic institution in any case and with their reputation for sophist argumentation, we would expect that the Jesuits might be prolific founders of law schools. There are presently more than two dozen American Catholic universities with law schools. Over half are Jesuit.

The fact of Jesuit predominance in higher education was first pointed out to me back in high school by a Catholic friend, who later graduated from Jesuit Regis University of Denver. I rattled off the names of a few of the most famous Catholic universities. All but one, he informed me, were Jesuit.

The prominence of Jesuit institutions among the list of jock schools probably has resulted because Jesuit universities are large and urban. No founders of pastoral campuses nestled beside sylvan lakes, they. The Jesuit universities that aren't in big city urban areas are in gritty coal towns like Scranton and Wheeling.

South Bend, Ind. was apparently too remote and unimportant to attract the Jesuits' attention as a potential site to build a college. Thus, Notre Dame was founded by the Congregation of the Holy Cross order.

The embracing by the Jesuits of many of the most nefarious modern intellectual and moral trends may simply be a demonstration that the characteristics of the Jesuit order make Jesuits tend to be natural allies of the modern academic left. Webster's Dictionary defines "jesuitical" as "a crafty schemer; a cunning dissembler; a casuist."

Sounds like the intellectual m.o. of a typical American left-liberal
professor.
-- John Combellick

DEAR PEOPLE
Glad to see that the heart and soul of TAS is alive and well on the web. Loved the old book, and saved copies for years. HATED it when you went from newsprint to slick interior pages!! Enjoy your right-on commentary and news and wish you well in this important new venture ...
-- Gene Wright
Laguna Niguel, CA

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