• U.S.

Letters, Mar. 11, 1996

12 minute read


YOUR COMPARISON OF THE ENTREPREneurs of the ’90s and the get-rich-quick crowd of the ’80s is unfair. The only thing today’s instant millionaires [BUSINESS, Feb. 19] have in common with the superrich of the ’80s is the money; the similarity stops there. Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky, KKR and their ilk destroyed tens of thousands of jobs annually and made a handful of already stinking-rich people that much richer. In their wake they left piles of worthless paper–no new industries, just paper. Marc Andreessen, Steven Jobs, Bill Schrader and their peers create jobs. They are helping build the U.S. economy back up again instead of tearing it down. Today’s instant millionaires create entire new industries. No one resents someone whose innovation has actually built something. How many all-nighters did these guys put in to help make them “overnight” successes? CHRIS FLORIO Yorktown, New York

WITH SUCH HIGH PRICES FOR THEIR products, is it any wonder that the owners of Internet companies are rich? These millionaires remind me of nerds who take advantage of their position to make money at any cost. What a shame! KEN FISCHL Flossmoor, Illinois Via E-mail

YOU ASK, “BUT IS THERE MUCH THAT CONservative or liberal policies can really do to nurture such enterprise?” as though the answer is, “Probably not; people are just born that way.” What nonsense! If that were the case, why would we need families, schools, organized society? These “instantaires” are successful because they grew up in a relatively healthy world where there were decent schools, some people who loved them and a society more or less willing to support creative thinking. Those factors are as important to productive people as rich soil is to a healthy garden. To think otherwise is to believe that a seed will sprout in midair. Government policy has everything to do with the quality of the soil in which we raise the next generation. LARRY A. PARKS DALOZ Cambridge, Massachusetts

IF IT WAS YOUR COVER’S INTENT TO MAKE Netscape’s Marc Andreessen look like Beavis with a brain, it worked. Seeing his boyish looks and mouth agape, you can almost hear him saying, “Yaah, dude, I’m, like, rich–ya know what I’m sayin’?” JOSEPH M. KOSANOVIC Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Via E-mail

WHY GLORIFY THESE YOUNG MILLIONaires? In their philanthropy they are not like the Rockefellers or Du Ponts. They should know social responsibility comes along with wealth and influence. JUSTO SANTIAGO San Diego


PARENTS CONCERNED ABOUT VIOLENCE on television should certainly be able to buy TV sets equipped with content-control devices such as the V chip that could block out programs labeled high in violence, sex or other objectionable material [TELEVISION, Feb. 19]. But why should the government require consumers to buy a specific system? In a free market with several such devices, consumers could choose the one that best suits their needs. What will be the function of the next chip the government insists we have in all our homes? DANIEL EFRAN Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Via E-mail

WE ARE SENIOR RESEARCHERS FOR THE National Television Violence Study. One statistic from our research that did not get reported was that only 4% of the 2,693 programs we examined featured a strong antiviolence theme overall. One such program in our sample was the film Romeo and Juliet, which aired on TV. You said Shakespeare’s tragedies like Macbeth would be “frowned upon” by the study because they lack punishment for violence within each scene. But you focused solely on our findings about violent scenes and overlooked our evaluation at the program level. The fact that the one Shakespearean drama we saw on television was rated as an antiviolent message overall underscores the validity of our multilevel analysis. DALE KUNKEL and ED DONNERSTEIN National Television Violence Study Santa Barbara, California

YES, THERE IS A NEW V CHIP, BUT WHAT about the ultimate means parents already have: direct and continued involvement with their children? If kids learn social values at home first, they will not need a chip to protect them. They will know what to accept and what to reject. MARINA FREEMAN Long Beach, California Via E-mail

IF THE GOVERNMENT WANTS TO MONITOR violence everywhere, it mustn’t forget books. They spur the imagination and can sometimes be as bad as television shows and movies, and all you need is a flimsy little library card to get one. KEVIN SUNG Potomac, Maryland

THE V CHIP IS A WASTE OF VALUABLE TIME and effort. Surely in these days of advanced technology, when small children use computers, it will take only a short amount of time for curious young minds to learn how to control and program the V chip, and then we will be back to square one. We should direct our resources to dealing with the briefly mentioned “economic poverty, bad schools and broken homes” of your story. If children are emotionally supported and well educated, fantasy in a box will remain just that. EOWYN LEVENE Kings Langley, England

WHY CAN’T AMERICANS FIND MORE CONstructive things to do than engross themselves in television all day? How about actually having a conversation or reading a book? Parents not only need to be concerned about how violence on television affects their children but also about how it affects themselves. ANGELA HARRIS Seoul


THE I.R.A. ATTACK IN LONDON’S CANARY Wharf does not have to mean the collapse of the entire peace process [WORLD, Feb. 19]. The inhabitants of war-weary Northern Ireland are fed up with the Troubles. It is up to the two big communities to find a compromise that everybody can live with. Politically, the I.R.A. is now dead, and the number of its supporters will dwindle rapidly. It is incapable of pursuing a political goal without using violent means. DOMINIC BERLEMANN Essen, Germany

SINN FEIN PRESIDENT GERRY ADAMS urged people to keep their heads, forgetting how difficult this is to do when his friends are making such determined efforts to blow them off. JOSEPH QUINN Bristol, Ireland

MOST OF US THOUGHT THE SUFFERING OF the past 25 years, with 3,170 human beings dead and 38,680 injured, was a sad lesson to those responsible for violence. They should have known that political agreement can never be realized through murder and intimidation. The overwhelming desire among our people to see a just and lasting peace has to be heeded. The I.R.A. must listen to that clear message from the people of Ireland and reinstate the cease-fire. PATRICK J. MCGLONE Cookstown, Ireland

THE SPECTER OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE haunts us once more. Surely the blame for this situation lies with the British government. Its refusal to sit down and talk with all parties to the Irish conflict was certain to bring about a return to violence. Throughout the cease-fire, the government did nothing but place obstacles on the road to peace. While all over the world parties to conflicts strive to settle their differences by negotiating with their still armed enemies, the British government refused to talk to the I.R.A., even though it had silenced its weapons for more than a year. For that refusal the government should be ashamed. MICHAEL DINEEN Cork, Ireland Via E-mail

THE I.R.A.’S DISDAINFUL UNILATERAL termination of the cease-fire seems to spell the end of the political approach that it took Gerry Adams several years to sell to the men of violence in the I.R.A. No neutral observer can now eliminate the specter of a criminally motivated I.R.A., which has little credibility with the vast majority of the population, who only seek peace and justice. Adams’ days of being able to persuade and reason with the I.R.A. may well be over, as it embarks on a new course of violence. ALBERT LONG Overijse, Belgium

I AM FEELING MIXED EMOTIONS OF anger and sadness. The I.R.A. should be ashamed of the destruction it has wrought and the depravity shown in its recent bomb attacks. The group has not only destroyed the lives of innocent people and their families; it has wiped out hope in the hearts of millions who had for the first time in years felt the sweet air of peace. I am truly ashamed to be growing up in a country where murderers feel they can justify their actions and still have the power to inflict a silent reign of terror on us all. HENNA RIAZ Bury, England

TERRORISTS WHO LIKE TO “ARGUE” THEIR case before the world court by planting bombs right and left, killing and maiming bystanders, never agree to a give-and- take political solution. They refuse to accept a “recession” in their murderous trade. Before long the bloodthirsty fanatics who planted the bomb in the Canary Wharf area will rise against their own people who want to accept a compromise, since they hate sitting idle with no one requiring their wares. JEFF ZEEV ROZENEK San Vito, Italy


THE REPORT ON HAITI COMPLETELY missed the mark [WORLD, Feb. 19]. You presented the views of Haiti’s antidemocratic elite, who supported the 1991 coup d’etat. You condemned former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide for failing to sign economic agreements with the imf and the World Bank, but you didn’t explain why. Aristide knew the results of such agreements in other developing nations around the world: cuts in education and health services, loss of jobs and increased poverty and hardship for the poorest of the poor. You didn’t grasp the economic and political pressures being placed on Haiti today by the U.S., the imf and the World Bank, which want to create an export-based economy with large pools of dirt-cheap labor. That’s the real story in Haiti. BRIAN J. STEVENS Port-au-Prince

YOUR ARTICLE DID NOT LEAVE YOUR readers with a baseline to assess what has been accomplished in Haiti. Even before the coup in 1991, Haiti had suffered 200 years of dictatorship, corruption and abysmal poverty. Although the need for the military mission has ended, the U.S. Agency for International Development, as part of an overall U.S. government effort, has led a transition process during the past 15 months to provide a mix of sustainable development projects that are making a difference in the lives of millions of Haitians. Your report dismisses the first-ever electoral transition in Haiti from one democratically elected President to another. Most observers state clearly that the election results represented the freely expressed wishes of the people. Is there a long way to go? Absolutely. But there has been a visible change in Haiti, and for the first time people have reason to hope that change can be sustained and deepened. MARK L. SCHNEIDER Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean U.S. Agency for International Development Washington

I RECENTLY RETURNED FROM HAITI, AND I was dismayed by the photographs accompanying your article. I saw plenty of misery in Port-au-Prince, but did not see bodies. I saw refuse in the streets and people worried about poverty but not afraid of sudden danger. The streets, though crowded and dirty, seemed quite free of the threat of violence. JOHN R. HYATT New York City


YOUR REPORT ON AMERICA’S AIR-TRAFFIC-control system did not address several key issues [AVIATION, Feb. 19]. American aviation is far and away the safest in the world. The FAA’s efforts to modernize air-traffic equipment are under control. We streamlined a computer-modernization program and are also reforming the agency. Congress recently freed the FAA from the burdensome procurement and personnel red tape that had prevented it from operating as a bottom-line business. This should help get equipment to the field faster and move employees to locations where they are most needed. But the congressional budget process prevents the FAA from bona fide long-term planning and increasingly fails to provide for the needs of the agency. Americans deserve better. DAVID R. HINSON, Administrator Federal Aviation Administration Washington

AS A FREQUENT FLYER, I MUST CONFESS to fresh fears after reading your story. To think that control centers handling heavy air traffic still rely on technology that seemingly pales in comparison to my nearly outdated computer is astounding. And horrifying. I urge every frequent flyer to contact the FAA and demand that the required changes be made, the highest technology be installed, so that peace of mind can always be maintained. When we fly, we want to check our baggage, not our confidence. AUGUSTEN BURROUGHS New York City Via E-mail

Thoughts About Forbes

REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE STEVE FORBES IS not for real [NATION, Feb. 19]. Or at least he’s not real. He doesn’t blink. I don’t think I’ve ever seen his eyelashes move. Does he have an eye-drop company as a supporter? Also, he sounds like a tape recording every time he opens his mouth. No blinking and no personality–is this what the Republicans want? MARK CHURCH Westborough, Massachusetts Via E-mail

YOU QUOTED ME CORRECTLY IN YOUR Verbatim item [NOTEBOOK, Feb. 19], but your description of me as a “fervent supporter” of Steve Forbes’ flat-tax proposal was not correct. As it now stands, the flat tax isn’t all that simple, and it isn’t fair. If people who derive their income from hard work pay taxes, why should people who derive their income solely from investments pay no taxes? My feeling about Forbes can be likened to St. Augustine’s philosophy. He asked God for chastity and continence, “but not just now.” I say, “Please, God, let Steve Forbes be President, but not quite yet.” ALICE W. LORILLARD Far Hills, New Jersey


PATRICK BUCHANAN’S SHOWING IN THE caucuses and primary is a dark page in the history of the U.S. [NATION, Feb. 19]. Americans could again be forced to vote for the lesser of several evils. Buchanan wishes to force onto our children dogma concerning creationism, religion and nationalism. What will be next? Wholesale censorship? Racism? JONATHAN DEHN Sapporo, Japan

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