- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 14, 2003

Metro needs capable managers

I read with great concern Friday’s “Metro calls for higher fares” (Metropolitan). It is more than apparent that Metro General Manager Richard A. White and his cohorts running the system must be replaced. Washington-area commuters already pay a greater proportion of system costs than do commuters in other major U.S. cities with similar systems. That Metro’s management cannot balance a budget reflects nothing more than ineptitude on their part.

Most disturbing, however, is Mr. White’s assertion that Metro should continue raising fares every year in the future. While commuters are expected to pay more and more, we must examine what type of service is being provided. On a daily basis, scores of escalators are out of service and trains are delayed and overcrowded. Metro officials may be hoping that this poor service will convince commuters to look the other way while Metro’s hand digs deeper into those commuters’ pockets.

Until Metro is overseen by capable managers, the system will do nothing but continue to deteriorate.

DENNIS POTTER

Alexandria

Our rights are inalienable

Nat Hentoff makes good arguments as to why Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor may be a bad choice for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (“Red meat for Dems,” Op-Ed, Monday), but he seems to be wrong about the origin of our civil rights.

Mr. Hentoff seems to make the argument that because God isn’t mentioned in the Constitution except for the date at the end of the convention, our rights come from government. Whether or not God gives us our rights (I happen to believe He does), the Framers made it clear in the Declaration of Independence and in the language of the Bill of Rights (which says “Congress shall make no law …”) that our rights exist with or without government.

Our government doesn’t “give” us our rights, as Mr. Hentoff’s refutation of Mr. Pryor seems to imply — it is constructed to respect them, to not abuse them, to be limited by them. Our rights come before any government.

The American Revolution was based on our inalienable rights and limited government. It should be U.S. History 101. I hope Mr. Hentoff simply made a mistake and doesn’t actually believe his wrong implication.

JAMES YERIAN

Athens, Ohio

Column ignores America’s own efforts for disclosure

Richard Rahn’s column (“Economic murder-suicide,” Commentary, Thursday) is interesting but flawed.

The “harmful tax competition” initiative he writes about is not a European Union initiative, but rather an initiative by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), originally driven by, among others, the Treasury Department. The United States effectively withdrew its support for that initiative in the last days of the Clinton administration. Its decision to withdraw support was not out of any concern that it was not feasible. Instead, the Treasury lost interest because it had developed its own unilateral manner of dealing with the real concern of all parties involved: access to information.

The Clinton administration developed, and the Bush administration has maintained, the concept of Qualified Intermediary Status. Financial advisers can register and receive benefits if they agree to obtain their clients’ consent to disclose information to the Treasury. Sovereign countries can also receive benefits for disclosure to the Treasury. The United States, using what amounts to bribery, was able to achieve the same objectives the OECD was after and was willing to use sanctions to get. But, while the United States does not publicly support the OECD’s initiative, it has not used its muscle within the OECD to have the project terminated.

In short, the United States has a parallel information disclosure mechanism for receiving information but wants to stand outside any system that would require reciprocation. The European Union, meanwhile, is simply moving toward the U.S. regime of taxing resident persons and corporations on their global income. We may or may not like it, but that reality must be made plain.

Essentially, Mr. Rahn’s argument is that individuals must be entitled to place their wealth anywhere, without disclosing it to their government, but if the tax law dictates that you must disclose all your nondomestic assets, failure to do so is a crime.

Without wishing to be unduly critical of Mr. Rahn’s view, it does seem to have been written from a narrow perspective of protectionism to permit the United States to protect its own tax revenues while wishing to deny other countries the same rights with regard to deposits made in the United States.

The OECD’s approach of seeking a level playing field on taxation was right in principle. What was wrong was that the playing field was chosen by high-tax, developed economies for their own benefit rather than by the low-tax, developing economies that most need it.

NIGEL MORRIS-COTTERILL

Chairman

Anti Money Laundering Network

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Misleading data on phonics

I am familiar with the study referred to in Tuesday’s article “Researchers verify reading ability gets a boost from phonics” (Nation), which examined a report by the National Reading Panel (NRP). The entire study is available at: http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v11n15/.

Contrary to what The Washington Times reported, the study on the NRP’s findings has some serious shortcomings.

For example: The study claims that the NRP recommended only systematic phonics instruction, to the exclusion of any other aspect of reading. In truth, the NRP was careful in several instances not to make such an exclusionary statement. The NRP also stressed the importance of direct, intensive, systematic, early and comprehensive (DISEC) teaching of how to help children comprehend what they read, especially by enlarging their knowledge of the meanings of words.

The study wrongly purports to be a precise re-examination of the experimental studies NRP analyzed. In fact, the study eliminated one of the 38 experimental studies on phonics instruction that NRP surveyed. At the same time, the study added the findings of three nonscientific studies of phonics tuition to its review.

The study thus was an obvious attempt to downgrade the conclusions of the NRP, seemingly driven by a dislike by the study’s team of researchers for scientific truth about phonics teaching.

PATRICK GROFF

Professor of education emeritus

San Diego State University

San Diego

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