- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Let the market determine prices

Deroy Murdock’s “Demonizing the drug business” (Commentary, Monday) makes some illuminating points about the charity work of the pharmaceutical industry. However, his analysis and the criticisms of drug companies from the left miss the point.

Americans tend to dislike anything that diverts significantly from the norm or mainstream. Most industries are subject to intense competition, which leads to lower-cost products and services.

Consumers have significant power through their exercise of choice. By contrast, when consumers become patients, they often lack the knowledge to make choices, and in the case of prescription drugs, they also find themselves dealing with monopolies created by patents.

I suggest that before we start suggesting major reform of this system or pro-drug-company ad campaigns, we should recognize the psychology of the observable consumer-patient distress that exists on this issue.

Ultimately, I think the real market-based answer is to enhance competition and consumer access to information.

MARK A. NEWSOM

Columbia, Md.

Tillman, a true noble

It is a travesty when an exceptional athlete of unquestioned patriotism who died for his country is outvoted in a poll by a filmmaker who produced a movie that incorporated teachings his own church has abandoned (“Noble and knave of the year,” Editorial, Saturday).

Certainly Pat Tillman should serve as a role model for our nation. Abandoning a $3 million per year contract, he served his nation with a patriotism that recalls the sacrifices our military men and women have made since the founding of our nation.

On the other hand, Mel Gibson, the most cited noble in the poll, made a movie depicting a version of the death of Jesus that is likely to provoke intolerance. Based on the teachings of a 19th-century nun noted for her virulent anti-Semitism, the film incorporates passages intended to inflame religious hatred rather than promote tolerance. Mr. Gibson’s reward was more than $400 million earned from the film. Pat Tillman’s legacy will be a never-to-be-forgotten example of what has made America great.

NELSON MARANS

Silver Spring

Balancing power on U.N. Security Council

Frank Gaffney Jr.’s “False friends” (Commentary, Dec. 28) raised a concern that has been percolating in my mind since the French and German anti-American campaign that preceded the Iraq war.

During the past several years, the European Union has acted as a single government in accordance with its objectives. This has affected its internal administration of society and its collective relationship with the outside world. In the former, the member states must relinquish power as the new central authority assumes its dominance. In the latter, when it comes to international relations, the member states maintain their ambassadors, their treaties (selectively) and their seats in the U.N. Security Council and General Assembly.

At present, the European Union has two permanent seats and an occasional rotating seat on the Security Council. There is talk of giving Germany a permanent seat. The French and German governments have proved themselves feckless in terms of defending freedom but quiet adroit at manipulating international institutions. My position is that a united Europe should get one seat at the U.N. Security Council. The current French seat ought to be given to the Japanese. This would provide a more rational and balanced council that is willing and able to defend freedom.

ANDREW MOSKOWITZ

Seattle

Pro-fishing, anti-cruelty

Columnist Gene Mueller is wrong in stating that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) intends to oppose sport fishing (“Antis spending big bucks in fight against hunters,” Dec. 29). Mr. Mueller cites a Scripps Howard story on the impending combination of the HSUS and the Fund for Animals as the source of his information, while in fact, the Scripps Howard report made no mention of sport fishing.

Mr. Mueller is right about one thing; HSUS is a political enemy to some so-called hunters, particularly those who engage in unfair and inhumane practices. At the top of our hit list are bear baiting, the shooting of animals in captive settings, the stocking of animals for live target practice and trophy hunting.

We’ll also be continuing our work to combat other forms of cruelty, such as animal fighting, the killing of animals for their fur, the exotic animal trade and puppy mills.

We invite Mr. Mueller and his readers to join with us in halting particularly inhumane and unsporting hunting practices and stop reflexively defending such outrageous practices as canned hunting. Mr. Mueller should be a watchdog for the industry, not a lap dog for it.

WAYNE PACELLE

President and CEO

Humane Society

of the United States

Washington

Too much credit

The Washington Times overstates the impact of the Bush administration’s Proliferation Security Initiative both as a factor in Libya’s decision to disarm its weapons of mass destruction and as a tool in the fight against proliferation of WMD and related materiel (“Progress on proliferation,” Editorial, Monday).

When Washington announced Libya’s fortunate choice, State Departmentspokesman Richard Boucher noted on Dec. 22, 2003, that PSI was “a more recent development” rather than being a factor in intercepting nuclear technology shipment to Libya. It wasn’t until February 2004 that President Bush made the connection publicly between PSI and Libya’s disarmament, and even then he conceded that British and American intelligence had “pieced together” Libya’s connection to the Pakistani proliferation network “over several years.”

More than failing to be relevant to Libya’s decision-making, PSI failed to intercept an additional shipment of nuclear equipment that arrived in Libya months after a PSI-organized operation is claimed to have stopped the original shipment that prompted the United States to confront Libya in October 2003, as reported in both The Washington Post and the New York Times in May 2004.

Finally, PSI is distracting the United States from accomplishing the range of nonproliferation policy priorities outlined by Mr. Bush in his February address at the National Defense University. Outgoing Republican Sen. Peter Fitzgerald pointed out this problem in a June hearing of the Budget and International Security Subcommittee of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, when he asked, “if there’s no formal structure to the PSI, how do we know… you’re not shirking your other duties?” The lack of progress on the overwhelmingbalanceof stated administration priorities for nonproliferation is proof that Mr. Fitzgerald’s worries were prescient.

MICHAEL ROSTON

Editor

Nuclear Test Watch

New York

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