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Right and Wrong

Ms. Polgreen's article, "The Death of Local Radio" (April 1999) could not miss the point more. She states that the important result of consolidation has been that playlists are selected by researchers who live and work hundreds of miles away and that new artists have difficulties getting their music played on radio stations. Life as we know it will not end because an artist doesn't get his or her music on a radio station. It is ending because consolidation has led to the public being bombarded with only an extreme right-wing point on view.

In one way or another, the message is always anti-public and proderegulation, privatization and corporate welfare. Most of all it is foaming- at-the-mouth, rabid Clinton-hating. During Monicagate, Jacor called itself "Impeachment Radio" in many parts of the country and took time out from urging people to contact their representative and demand he or she vote to impeach only to talk sports. Having failed in their attempt to lynch the president, they have moved back to accusing him of multiple murders in the United States and Yugoslavia to divert public attention from his "selling out the United States to China".


Lynchburg, Ohio

Pay the Freight

I am more than willing to pay my share of educating and training Latinas, those who have entered the country legally ("Left Behind," April 1999). Anything less is short sighted.

But while we are fulfilling our moral and social duty in helping these women who are already here it is not unreasonable to suggest a moriatorium on admitting more of them who will simply compound the problem.

We have 26 million immigrants in America today. No one can accuse us of turning our backs on the huddled masses and no taxpayers on earth are as generous to immigrants.


Winscott, N. Y.


Jonathan Chait, in "Giving Away the Farm" (April 1999), misrepresents some aspects of the argument to partially privatize Social Security. First, he says, people who invest their money wisely will get better returns than those who do not. Well, of course. I fail to see why that should make the blood run cold. We already accept vast inequalities in salary, investments, perks, and, yes, even Social Security checks, which right now give bigger checks to higher earners. Intelligence should have its reward.

Second, he says if you privately invest your retirement funds, then the state of the stock market in the year you retire "would have an enormous impact." Nonsense. I first became a small investor in 1992, when the market was at 3,000. Even if it fell by half this year, I have still gained 66 percent on my initial investment. Say the market does tank the year you retire. Unless it drops below the point is was when you first began working 45 years ago, you will come out ahead, perhaps a bit less, but far ahead anyway. (Needless to mention that the market has never fallen over the average 45-year working life.)

Finally, Chait echoes the dire warning of so many defenders of Social Security: in a private system, you may outlive your savings. You may, and preventing that would be up to you, just like preventing yourself from running out of groceries already is (my God, why do we trust the people with such an important task? Surely the government should step in!). But what if you don't outlive your savings? What if your savings outlive you? Unlike Social Security, which stops at your death, your accumulated private retirement funds could be handed down to your spouse or children. That would enrich your family, maybe giving your kids a chance for college or for a better life than you could afford. Over a generation or two, it could substantially improve your family's standard of living.


Staunton, Va.

Now You See It ...

With regards to Charles Peters' item ("Tilting at Windmills," April 1999) in which he chastises The New York Times for burying Mr. Clinton's pledge of $18 million to the Troops for Teachers program: I have some first hand insight that may be of interest. I retired from the United States Air Force after 20 years of service in October 1998. During my transition assistance seminar, I was told, after inquiring about the Troops to Teachers program, that the program's funding had been pulled and this was no longer an option.


via email

The editor replies: The program was allowed to lapse. That's why I thought its resurrection was worth more than one line.

Book Bribes

[Re. the April 1999 "Memo of the Month," about an unsuccessful effort to donate a book to the White House]: What a gem! The ethics in government act has become the ignorance in government act. The first amendment guarantees the right "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances" If a book about politics doesn't fall into that category, precious little does.

An extremely valuable book--say, a Gutenberg Bible--might reasonably be considered a bribe. Any standard, hardbound edition of a book still in print is clearly communication, not a bribe. The mentality of the lawyer who advised White House staff to return that book is a wonderful example of bureaucracy at its worst.


San Antonio, TX

Say it Loud

There is something fundamentally amiss with Jason DeParle's article, The Silence of the Liberals", in the April 1999 Washington Monthly.

The headline is correct. Liberals are far too quiet nowadays, and when they do speak they usually bitch and moan instead of offering solutions. But for DeParle to suggest, "There's nothing inherently wrong with a strong conservative voice" and liberals "should challenge, in a thoughtful way, conservatives' instinctive hostility ..." is simply absurd. When have conservatives ever been thoughtful or accepting of the liberal point of view?

It would be a tragic mistake to play pattycake with conservatives. By following DeParle's suggestions, liberals would only be applying band-aids to gross, open sores. The decay would go on, shuffled around, as in welfare to work, from an agency with some accountability (the government) to one with none (private industry).

If the left truly wants to get involved with this debate, it should offer some revolutionary ideas such as forming unions for the working poor, insisting on day care availability, health insurance, paid vacations, a way to pursue grievances, a way to hold private companies accountable to their employees, and a livable minimum wage.


Muncie, IN


After reading Robert Worth's "Guess Who Saved the South Bronx?" (April 1999), I'm sure I wasn't alone in welcoming the steady comeback of this gritty but proud borough.

The revitalization efforts going on in the South Bronx are a testimony both to the determination of local residents not to give up on their neighborhoods and to the willingness of government officials not to repeat the costly mistakes of the past.

But if the South Bronx is to maintain its momentum against what still are great odds, community leaders are also going to have to avoid the mistakes already being made by the institution Mr. Worth credits with saving the borough: big government.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may soon wreak the same havoc in the inner cities that "urban renewal" programs did a generation ago. In a bid to promote "environmental justice"--the belief that poor, mostly minority neighborhoods are disproportionately exposed to sources of pollution--EPA is proposing a scheme guaranteed to drive businesses out of or to discourage them from locating in inner cities, including the South Bronx. For companies planning to expand existing plants or build new ones in the inner cities, it will no longer suffice for them to comply with applicable environmental statutes. Under the procedure under consideration by EPA, the agency will determine whether a permit issued by a state environmental agency will have a "discriminatory impact," "disparate impact," or "other cognizable impacts" on a nearby minority community. These highly subjective terms are left conveniently undefined by EPA.

One could hardly think of a better way to force companies to abandon the inner city for suburbia's more congenial regulatory climate. And while Mr. Worth may not put much faith in "economic development," pointing out that Manhattan is only a 15-minute subway ride away, not everybody in the South Bronx is going to find a job on Broadway or Wall Street.


Arlington, VA
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Publication:Washington Monthly
Date:Jun 1, 1999
Previous Article:Tidbits & Outrages.
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