- The Washington Times - Friday, June 9, 2000

Putting the brakes on CAFE standards

Sam Kazman is right in pointing out that proponents of tougher corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards regularly dodge the safety issue ("Death by caution," Op-Ed, June 6).

In addition to ignoring the thousands of premature deaths on the nation's roads and highways that have resulted from the CAFE-induced downsizing of cars, the program's supporters also have shifted gears on why CAFE should be kept alive. Originally, CAFE was supposed to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. However, imports of foreign oil have risen from 35 percent of total U.S. supply to 50 percent since the tougher standards were imposed 25 years ago. Now we are supposed to believe CAFE's regulatory straitjacket somehow will help curb global warming.

Meanwhile, dramatic strides in automotive technology are rendering the program as superfluous as it is lethal. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a midsize car manufactured in 1975 got an average of 13.6 mpg, while a midsize sport utility vehicle produced in 1998 averaged 20.8 mpg. In other words, today's average sport utility vehicle gets 50 percent better gas mileage than the average mid-'70s car.

Forget the Precautionary Principle and follow instead the wise advice of Hippocrates: "First, do no harm." CAFE harms.

BONNER R. COHEN

Senior fellow

Lexington Institute

Arlington

Did governor just flap his lips about shrubs?

The Washington Times' May 29 Metropolitan article "Berry-bearing shrubs prove a lethal lure near highways" recalls a similar article printed about this time last year ("Berries lure birds to death on highways," June 9, 1999). That article told of hundreds of cedar waxwings that were killed along Virginia's highways during the previous two spring migrations.

In response to last year's article, I wrote Gov. James S. Gilmore III and asked him if he would look into removing those shrubs and replacing them with ones that wouldn't be bird killers. He sent a nice reply saying he would look into it. Your recent article tells me what I already expected: I got lip service.

Nature stepped in and provided some protection this spring, but 80 of those beautiful birds, according to the article, still died. That is still too high a number. The governor and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) must be held accountable, and they must replace those killer shrubs.

Surely Virginia doesn't want to be identified as the commonwealth that put the cedar waxwing on the endangered list. Concerned readers should write the governor and VDOT.

BILL CARLILE

Alexandria

Investor's Guide column is misguided

I am writing in response and protest to Eric Tyson's Investor's Guide Q and A that ran on June 1 ("Start a Keogh to ease self-employed tax bite," Business).

Having been in the insurance and investment field for 16 years, I take offense at the shots Mr. Tyson took at brokers, loaded mutual funds and cash value life insurance. Most offensive was his temerity in making recommendations in a complicated pension matter without facts, such as the age of the business owner, his family status, number of employees, corporate status, annual income, etc.

I am sure Mr. Tyson would deny any allegations of malpractice because he never met the inquisitive business owner or accepted money, but I think this column equals malpractice multiplied by the number of readers.

Mr. Tyson also makes a blanket recommendation to buy term life insurance only, without even knowing why the man needs life insurance or for how long. Yet, he, the irresponsible planner, begrudges anyone making a commission for doing his or her job thoroughly and properly for the client.

It is harmful for newspapers to print this "Dear Abby" format of finance advice because, unfortunately, most people believe what they read.

For some reason, it seems trendy for much of the news media to propagate a day-trader, no-load, term-insurance-only, new-era mentality to the public. Contrary to this propaganda, little has changed in financial or insurance planning. The proper fact finding process is crucial to meaningful recommendations by a professional.

People need professional help more than ever as baby boomers plan for the largest generational transfer of wealth in history.

JOHN SANDERS

Bethesda

Boys Town gets a bad rap from neighbors

I am writing in response to the article "Ward 5 chief calls Boys Town bad neighbor" (Metropolitan, May 26), about our Boys Town on Sargent Road NE. The article told of people, some who live near Boys Town of Washington, complaining and calling Boys Town staff bad neighbors and "liars." In 1993, when we established this site for Washington's abused, abandoned and neglected children, we were welcomed cordially by most of the neighbors. Then there were three or four who, after learning that Boys Town has been allowed a government grant for the care of Washington's children, began complaining because they mistakenly thought it was money that belonged to the District.

This group began complaining about the mounds of earth that had been on the property long before Boys Town ever had heard of the location. However, they blamed Boys Town for this. Boys Town went to a lot of trouble and expense to bring in engineers and other experts to see what could be done to remedy a situation Boys Town had not caused. We did it to help people living nearby.

It certainly is not true, as stated in the article, that Boys Town has ignored long-standing complaints about water runoff. Neighbors complained, according to the article, about trespassing and excessive noise by Boys Town youths. There was one isolated case in which one of our boys climbed over a neighbor's fence. The boy attempted to apologize to the neighbor, and the apology was not accepted. Some continue to use this one incident and exaggerate it.

Boys Town was given a basketball half-court as a gift. When some of the neighbors complained about noise from the court, it was removed. Although that complaint did not merit consideration, Boys Town responded to show that we are good neighbors.

Going back to the beginning of the establishment of Boys Town of Washington, I attended almost every meeting at which Boys Town's programs were explained to the residents of the area, and they were asked for their ideas, opinions, etc. From the beginning, although most of the people were courteous, a few insisted on calling us liars. There even was an instance when the disgruntled group brought in an outsider, a person who not only didn't live in the neighborhood, but didn't even live in Washington. That person claimed to know all about Boys Town and, of course, said many negative, untrue things about us.

As for East Capitol Hill, where, according to the article, neighbors are opposing our desire to establish a home for children in that neighborhood, I was one of the Boys Town people who walked around the neighborhood at the request of some of the neighbors there. I got the impression that the neighbors did not want us to build there because they were hoping a large store, such as a Safeway, would come to the location. They pointed out several dilapidated, boarded-up houses in the area and said they thought Boys Town should buy them and renovate them.

I understand that people want to live in a nice neighborhood. At the same time, I ask them to understand that Boys Town is considered a good neighbor in all the other 18 sites in 15 states, including the Village of Boys Town, Neb., founded by Father Flanagan and surrounded by very expensive homes.

The rest of America loves Boys Town. Give us a chance, neighbors. I am a 1941 graduate of Boys Town, and I am proud of what it is doing in Washington for your children.

MONSIGNOR JOSEPH W.

ARIANO

Silver Spring

Monsignor Joseph Ariano is a special assistant to the executive director of Boys Town USA.

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