- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 17, 2001

Bitoech's icy gullag

In the debate over stem-cell research, I have read nothing that brings the issues into focus as well as a sentence in Armstrong Williams' July 14 Commentary column, "Stem cells and cascading currents." Mr. Williams writes: "Far less attention has been paid to the ethical ramifications of funding the willful destruction of human embryos."
Nonetheless, some of us have paid attention to the ethical ramifications of embryonic-stem-cell research because we have been aware of the Catholic Church's long-held opposition to in vitro fertilization (IVF). The Church condemned IVF, in which the willful destruction of human embryos is routine, long before the horror of human experimentation on embryos even could be contemplated. As Mr. Williams probably realizes, a great deal of funding goes for IVF, including money from insurance plans.
In reality, the tens of thousands of so-called "surplus human embryos" that today are frozen in icy orphanages constitute a crisis all their own. There would be no call to use these human embryos had they not been created in the first place by ethically challenged physicians, scientists, universities and corporations that certainly knew they were creating a "disposal problem." If tens of thousands of fully grown human refugees were imprisoned in an icy gulag, world opinion would rally around saving as many as possible, one or two at a time. No one would suggest subjecting them to death by medical experimentation even for noble ends because they were slated to die anyway. Certainly there would be a call to stop whatever was imprisoning humans.
I believe President Bush will stick to his principles and his campaign pledge and avoid the ethical mistake of supporting federal funding for experiments on living human embryos and funding for research on stem-cell lines obtained through the questionable treatment of living human embryos. We have read his lips and know him to be a man of his word.
All of this is not to deny the genuine, heartfelt concerns of those who are hoping for medical cures from these questionable scientific explorations. Nor is there any denying that some children are allowed to be implanted, grow to full term and are born healthy, fulfilling the desires of many infertile couples to have children "of their own." Nevertheless, improper means cannot be justified by worthy goals. If we ignore this fact, we certainly will descend into a biotechnological nightmare of our own design.

WILLIAM L. PIERCE
Senior fellow and director, Washington, D.C. Office
Discovery Institute
Washington

A good man for the NEA

GOP political consultant Craig Shirley's remark that he doesn't consider New York State Sen. Roy M. Goodman, who reportedly is under consideration for the chairmanship of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), a "regular Republican" is way off base (Inside the Beltway, July 12). Mr. Goodman has served as the Republican Party chairman in New York County for the past 20 years, keeping the party alive and electing a congressman, state senator, assemblyman, councilman and judge despite a 3-to-1 disadvantage in party registration in Manhattan. As a legislator, he is noted for his economically conservative record as a leading tax cutter and enemy of governmental waste. He has been endorsed for the NEA chairmanship by leading conservatives such as Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas and Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska as well as all three of the New York directors of the American Conservative Union. Mr. Goodman is a staunch supporter of President Bush and led his county's delegation for Mr. Bush at the Republican National Convention. Very few have done as much for the Republican Party as Mr. Goodman.

WILLIAM F.B. O'REILLY
President
Metropolitan Republican Club
New York

Power companies' flawed deal unleashes price-control monster

In his July 14 Commentary column, "Energized headlines," Thomas Sowell argues that price controls generally defeat the purpose for which they are enacted. This is true, but it does not mean that prices cannot and should not be set in an agreement between a buyer and a seller. California's energy problems arose because such agreements did not exist or were ignored.
During the height of the California crisis, the free-market price of a kilowatt-hour (kwh) rose to extraordinary levels. According to the Dec. 15, 2000 report of Energy News Data, an independent provider of power industry information: "At their peak, Western power prices reached heights never before seen or even imagined as a wave of panic buying beset both electric and gas markets. Anticipation of a severe cold-weather blast sent reported prices in the Pacific Northwest to 5,000 mills/kwh on Monday and California Power Exchange daytime clearing prices to a record 1,407 mills/kwh midweek."
One thousand mills is equal to $1; therefore, the maximum price asked for one kwh was $5. In the Washington suburbs, a consumer pays about 8 cents per kwh. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that this energy is being sold by primary producers for about 5 cents per kwh, or one-hundredth of the price asked by private producers in California.
This situation arose because the electricity distribution companies in California buy some of their energy from independent power producers (IPPs). In the past, companies such as Southern California Edison produced their own power and operated as regulated monopolies. But many utilities faced environmental opposition to power-plant construction, and they found it easier to let IPPs build new plants and to buy power from them.
The power-purchase agreements apparently failed to place a ceiling on the prices charged.
Therefore, the resort to government-mandated price controls is an attempt to prevent IPPs from charging 100 times their cost of production when supplies are tight.

WILLIAM T. SMITH
McLean

Moved by Americans' sacrifice in Normandy

I read your July 15 story "Man finds father's memory alive in Normandy" was special interest, having visited the Normandy beaches and the American cemetery there earlier this month.
I was only a child during World War II and could not realize the scope of the war. However, seeing the thousands upon thousands of white marble crosses (and stars) in the reverently maintained Normandy American Cemetery brought home, most vividly, the magnitude of our efforts to win.
Everyone American who visits France must include these truly hallowed sites - both as a history lesson and to appreciate our good fortune today.

DOLORES DEMBUS BITTLEMAN
Washington

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