• U.S.

Letters: Mar. 29, 1982

7 minute read


To the Editors:

The Federal Reserve chairman, Paul Volcker, is a man to be much admired [March 8], for he is one of the few in Government willing to bear the responsibility for long-term economic recovery. Volcker realizes that stopgap increases in the money supply offer no solution. It took the U.S. 40 years to reach this dire economic situation. We cannot expect instant and painless recovery.

William Ziener Baden, Pa.

It is frustrating to watch the Fed struggle along under the misguided idea that either we have inflation and moderate interest rates or we have protracted recession and high rates. The U.S. can enjoy prosperity, reasonable interest costs and price stability, but only if there is a sensible fiscal policy.

Suzanne M. Taylor Bothell, Wash.

The cover story “Paying More for Money” is one of the most concise and erudite discussions of the subject I have read. In 1926, when I was studying economics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, my instructors were endorsing the philosophy that the economy could be managed and fine-tuned to smooth, if not virtually eliminate, the severity of the recurrent peaks and troughs of business cycles. These professors believed that the Federal Reserve System, which was then 13 years old, would do it; 1929 was only three years down the road.

However, nagging doubts remain. Do the judgments of a few selected professional bankers represent more wisdom than those of the free market forces? At what point does the management of the economy begin to inhibit rather than benefit the system?

Frank B. Trexler, Editor Eastern Financial Times Philadelphia

Volcker deserves respect and admiration, not anger and blame. It is refreshing to see someone in Government who does not base his policy decisions on how soon he will be up for reappointment or reelection.

Paul Sakariassen Bismarck, N. Dak.

While visiting the Chase Manhattan Bank in 1958, I was introduced to Paul Volcker, a young economist who sat alone in a small spartan office. Chief Economist John Wilson told me that Volcker’s job was to pretend he was the Federal Reserve Bank and predict what the Fed was about to do. In two decades, Volcker progressed from thinking what the Fed would do, to what it should do. He does it well.

Vincent M. Jolivet Kenmore, Wash.

You portray Paul Volcker as firm, dedicated, unyielding and irrevocably committed to a policy of tight money, regardless of the difficulties and hardships that are imposed on a large segment of our population. Volcker’s approach can also be called intransigent and obstinate, which are synonymous with fanatic. In the course of history, fanaticism has never resulted in anything other than distress, frustration and misery.

George I. Theisen Travelers Rest, S.C.

Kissinger Remembers

Henry Kissinger’s memoirs [March 8] have finally lifted Watergate history from profit-motivated exposé to balanced analysis and perspective. Rarely do we have memoirs that read like a classic novel.

David K. Sturges Killingworth, Conn.

Kissinger’s attention should be called to the fact that we became militarily involved in Indochina during the Eisenhower Administration, not, as he implies, under Kennedy. We began sending arms, equipment and military advisers to South Viet Nam in the 1950s. The first U.S. soldiers were killed by the Viet Cong in 1959. Thomas J. Carraher Norfolk, Neb.

Henry Kissinger still loves to mystify and impress with dogma he propounds to be true. Historians will not buy his arguments that the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations, the anti-Establishment groups and the antiwar protesters were responsible for our defeat in Viet Nam. It is as if he and President Nixon were mere helpless spectators during this period of national crisis. The moral suasion required of our leaders to pull America through those last years of the Viet Nam War was lacking, both from Nixon and Kissinger.

Gregory N. Austin Brighton, Mich.

I was impressed by Kissinger’s profound understanding of Richard Nixon. It was a relief to read this page of history from a compassionate viewpoint.

Lillian Belts Rochester, Minn.

Lethal Light-Up

It was amusing to see the excess verbiage our Government would like to place on cigarette packs warning smokers about the health hazard [March 8]. Why not be blunt? Packages should be labeled WARNING: CIGARETTES CAN KILL.

Tim Wright Arcata, Calif.

You did not mention what I consider the two hypocrisies in the smoking controversy: our Government’s subsidy to tobacco farmers and the exemption of tobacco products from FDA control. If a drug were causing a fraction of the deaths attributed to cigarettes, it would have been removed from the market long ago, and the companies would be bankrupt from liability suits.

Virginia E. McCormick Worthington, Ohio

Your story on smoking was excellent. We respect your having done this in spite of the fact that cigarette advertisers supply a part of your income. All too often, articles of this nature are limited to a few unobtrusive sentences.

Jacquelyn Rogers, Founder Smokenders Easton, Pa.

Wilted Weeds

The report on marijuana by the National Academy of Sciences [March 8] stressed that so far there is no evidence the substance actually causes addiction. The academy ought to talk to the thousands of everyday users who want to quit. I was one. I know it is very hard to stop either gradually or cold turkey. Now I counsel others—some in tears, grown men weeping, because they realize that it is a one-way ticket down.

Al Cap Broken Arrow, Okla.

Nancy à la Mode

At last bouquets for Nancy Reagan [March 8]. As Hugh Sidey makes clear, there is nothing wrong with a loving wife, a successful homemaker, a stylish woman, an elegant role model, even if she is the President’s lady. All those critics are simply jealous.

Hedy C. Margolies Rosemont, Pa.

So Hugh Sidey thinks Nancy’s problems are “more media figment than real.” Nancy Reagan, with her emphasis on warm elegance in this period of hardship for most of the country, offends me mightily. I am not irritated by what has been published about her; I am annoyed by what she does.

Sally Pennington Maine Antique Digest Waldoboro, Me.

Independent Vote

Your article “Watt’s Line” [March 8] says that the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted along partisan lines in recommending that the full House hold Secretary Watt in contempt of Congress. I did not vote the party line. In fact, I not only voted to hold the Secretary in contempt but also suggested that to do otherwise for the sake of “being loyal to the President” was irrational. Under the circumstances, perhaps your readers would like to know that not all Republicans fell into step.

Marc Lincoln Marks U.S. Representative, Pennsylvania Washington, D.C.

Caustic Criticism

Writing in TIMEstyle (which, in self-improvement, I hasten to adopt), R.Z. Sheppard judges my work to be, among other shames, “made by high intelligence” [Feb. 15]. That is the kiss of depth. Cynthia Ozick New Rochelle, N. Y.

Buck Stop

To Roger Rosenblatt’s Essay “The Staff Ate My Homework” [March 8] I want to add what I consider the apex of buck passing on a fifth-grader’s level: “I didn’t bring my math because my mom was too tired to do it for me last night.”

Barbara Asen Bala Cynwyd, Pa.

On your list of answers to the question What does the art of buck passing require? one should add “Create all sentences in the passive voice.” Then one can pass the buck, infinitely.

Ralph E. French Leawood, Kans.


In your article “The New Baby Bloom” [Feb. 22] you quote me as saying that pregnant women are overly prepared. This leaves a false impression regarding my attitude toward the modern practice of obstetrics and the questions posed by patients. I do not resent answering questions. Ask any one of the hundreds of patients under my care.

Melchior F.R. Savarese, M.D. Washington, D.C.

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