- The Washington Times - Friday, August 5, 2005

In defense of the Boy Scouts

I was pleased to read such an insightful piece as the one offered by William Murchison regarding the president’s and the Senate’s backing of the Boy Scouts of America (“Backing up the Boy Scouts,” Commentary, Thursday).

For too long, we have allowed the civil-liberties fanatics to interpret the “establishment of religion” clause of the First Amendment as freedom from religion instead of its intended meaning, to guarantee freedom of religion.

The Boy Scouts of America and worldwide affiliates have, by encouraging the sponsorship of churches and developing awards within various sponsoring religions, demonstrated a more inclusive and accepting atmosphere than the one-note samba of the vocal liberal-left. Those secular humanists will not abandon their goal of destroying the Boy Scouts until they have established their godless ideals as the law of the land.

Religion, simply stated, is the adherence to a set of beliefs regarding the influence of a higher power on one’s life and experience. The enemies of the Boy Scouts certainly have established themselves as believers in a universe devoid of such influence and as such have relinquished the values of moral life to mere acceptance of the currents of society.

God bless President Bush, the Senate and Mr. Murchison for speaking out for the vast majority of us who choose not to accept such a sterile and vulnerable alternative to the proven and lasting values espoused in the Scout Law and Oath.

WILLIAM R. STRINGHAM

Vienna

Hydrogen not an energy solution

John Corrick’s suggestion that we run our economy on hydrogen instead of oil is the same as saying we should use batteries instead of fossil fuels (“Alternative energy resources,” Letters, Tuesday). Hydrogen isn’t a fuel source; it is an energy storage and transfer mechanism like a battery. Just as we have to ask how we charge the battery, we have to ask where the energy comes from to get the hydrogen.

Hydrogen is abundant, but it loves to combine with oxygen, in which form it covers three-quarters of the Earth’s surface. To get hydrogen to separate from oxygen, you can run an electric current through water. You can get that electricity by solar power, wind, hydroelectricity, nuclear power or burning fossil fuels, but each power source has drawbacks and limitations. Further, using electricity to separate out hydrogen loses energy. Using the electricity directly is more efficient. Storing energy through batteries instead of hydrogen may be more efficient depending on the application.

Hydrogen isn’t a solution to our energy problem. Most hydrogen currently is processed out of natural gas. As such, it can’t replace oil. Natural gas is closely linked with oil. Both are finite and depleting.

Mr. Corrick is right that we need to figure out how to get by without oil. The answer lies in conservation, efficiency, renewable energy and reduced population.

CARL HENN

Rockville

Math and science woes

“Income gap grows in U.S.” (Page 1, Sunday) and “Government report shows income gap increasing” (A16, Wednesday) lament the failure of American public schools to prepare students properly in math and science. I fully concur. The textbooks generally are horrible, the newer teachers often are not up to the task and (most important) local school boards remain blissfully unaware that any such problems exist.

However, there is another side to the issue that can be blamed directly on industry. Having worked for nearly 40 years in the engineering and computer-software fields, I am seeing less and less demand for “the math, science, and technology skills needed to secure high-wage jobs,” as reported in the second piece.

A quick look at the Sunday Tech Jobs section in The Washington Post will reveal few calls for any math or science training. Whereas just five years ago there were eight pages of tech jobs rich in truly high-tech positions with growth potential, now we’re down to two pages with entry-level and flavor-of-the-month technical requirements, low pay and little chance for career growth. Online, it’s the same story.

U.S. industry apparently doesn’t need people with math and science skills badly enough to actively recruit them. The general attitude seems to be: Hire specifically trained technical people out of college, use them for four years, discard same, repeat sequence. This sends a signal to the American student that there is no future for them in math and science careers in this country.

DAVID SWINK

Vienna

Free marketeers in Europe

Richard Rahn is right: An encouraging number of free-market think tanks are emerging throughout Europe, including Lithuania’s Free Market Institute and France’s Liberte Cherie (“Hope for Europe?” Commentary, yesterday). Two others, above all, deserve mention.

The first is Britain’s Institute of Economic Affairs. Founded in 1955, the IEA served as a second home for F.A. Hayek and hugely influenced Margaret Thatcher.

The second, founded in 1989, is France’s Institute for Economic Studies-Europe. IES-Europe has conducted hundreds of intense seminars throughout Western and Eastern Europe, bringing free-market ideas to thousands of Europe’s best young minds. Assisted by the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, IES-Europe also helps friends of freedom throughout Europe keep in close contact with one another.

DONALD J. BOUDREAUX

Chairman, Department of economics

George Mason University

Fairfax

‘Health’ committee is a lawyers’ committee

In “3 areas outlined for tort reform” (Metropolitan, Monday), you mention some of the suggestions for medical malpractice reform put forth by the D.C. Council’s Health Committee. It seems inappropriate to designate a committee whose eight members include five lawyers a “health” committee. A group with a majority of lawyers is a legal committee, with, at most, a secondary interest in health care. This is confirmed by the group’s refusal to consider caps on malpractice suits, something most doctors favor.

Idealistically, mandated mediation has potential in a non-adversarial venue. However, most doctors around the country feel that many malpractice lawyers don’t have a non-adversarial bone in their bodies. Their questionable methods in shaking down doctors with frivolous lawsuits leave doctors with little faith in the system.

Clearly, there are too many financial incentives for lawyers to pursue claims of even little value. Exorbitant contingency fees, the ability to hire medical experts to act as mercenaries and financial penalties that pressure doctors into settling are serious flaws.

The best way to handle this problem would be to treat liability like workers’ compensation. Injured patients would get their money faster and not have to wait the five or six years it now takes or undergo all the misery and turmoil that go with the court process. Physicians would be spared the anger and frustration that frivolous suits bring.

Who wants to be operated on or be treated by a physician undergoing a frivolous lawsuit, carrying around a smoldering resentment that can be a serious distraction? Not me.

DR. EDWARD J. VOLPINTESTA

Bethel, Conn.

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