- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A global threat

In the column “In search of leadership” (Commentary, Monday) Donna Brazile complains that President Bush’s State of the Union speech failed to address core issues. She indicates that “we just don’t understand Mr. Bush … his objectives or what motivates him.” It is clear to me that vitriol and rage have consumed the opposition to such an extent that basic reason is hidden to them.

Those who wish to leave Iraq now, I urge you to study our enemy. Estimates that I hear on a regular basis indicate that 10 percent of Muslims in the world seek our demise. This means we’re in the midst of a war with at least 100 million intolerant extremists whose only terms are that we convert to Islam and Shariah law or die.

The writer also states that “global warming [and] rising health care costs … are all serious issues.” Perhaps. However, her misguided need to focus on the vagaries of weather trends as opposed to the real threat to modern civilizations is akin to the absurdity of the improvident judgment of a man who, fleeing from his burning house, decides to go back inside to get his umbrella because it’s raining outside.

MICHAEL LOGAN

Princeton, N.J.

Risks lead to innovation

On Friday, Hal Raveche wrote that “risk aversion has had a devastating impact on America’s leadership in technology” (“Technology innovation,” Op-Ed). Our nation’s technology economy needs exactly the kind of bold risk-taking initiatives called for in his column. For too long the entertainment-content industries have propped up their outdated, risk-adverse business models, using their lobbying muscle to deter crucial technological innovation. In particular, some in the movie and record industries employ litigation and legislation to place crippling restrictions or impose excessive fees on technologies that enable individuals to enjoy lawfully obtained music, videos and other content.

Now is the time for new and visionary initiatives from Congress. The best way to promote our nation’s technological leadership is with updated intellectual property laws. Those laws would not guarantee winners in the race to innovate but would allow American innovation to flourish. The United States has always been a global technology leader. If Congress and the courts continue to allow the record and movie industries to attack innovation through overreaching legislation, many of the freedoms that enabled the United States to gain its leadership foothold will disappear.

Congress must protect the rights of consumers, innovators, producers and creators to use digital technology as they choose — not just the way a few antiquated business models deem fit. Proactive, updated and consumer-friendly legislation is the best way to let continued innovation and technological growth flourish.

JASON OXMAN

Vice president for communications

Consumer Electronics Association

Arlington

Serbs and Dayton Accords

In response to the article, “U.N. envoy: Serbs cannot ruin Bosnia,” (Web site, Jan. 16) we are writing to point out that it is Sulejman Tihic, Haris Silajdzic and other Bosniak nationalists who are continually calling for the abolition of the Republika Sprska as a political entity in direct contravention of the letter and spirit of the Dayton Accords.

They seek the dissolution of the Republika Sprska’s political structures and security capabilities, and most importantly, the Republika Sprska’s identity, which is guaranteed by Dayton. Nary an objection or admonition emanates from the Office of the High Representative as the Bosniak leaders challenge the existence of the Republika Sprska with impunity.

Yet, when the Republika Sprska’s prime minister, Milorad Dodik, responds to the militant challenges to the status of the Bosnian Serb entity, and the integrity of the Dayton Accords, he is threatened by the High Representative (the same person charged with the responsibility of implementing Dayton) with ham-fisted threats and scoldings ill-suited for even pre-schoolers.

For reference, it is Mr. Dodik who has been struggling with the radical nationalists for the last decade. Through his leadership of the Republika Sprska and his Independent Social Democratic Party (SNSD), the Serb Democratic Party (SDS) suffered an unprecedented defeat in the last election. This is exactly the electoral outcome that the United States and the rest of the international community have been hoping for since the end of the war in Bosnia (and providing financial and technical assistance to achieve since at least the elections of 2000).

In his struggles to vanquish the hard-line nationalists, Mr. Dodik has continually put himself at great political and personal risk. He has staked his political capital to support the Dayton Accord at the behest of the contact group of nations that imposed it upon the people of Bosnia. Mr. Dodik continues to support Dayton, but it seems that the Office of the High Representative no longer does. Otherwise, the High Representative should be threatening Tihic and Silajdzic with sanctions for instigating challenges to the central tenet of the Dayton Accords — the establishment of the entities that comprise Bosnia.

The latest in a long line of High Representatives, Christian Schwarz-Schilling, is proving once again that the Office of the High Representative is a highly biased, anti-democratic, out-of-control Frankenstein-type creation wholly unaccountable to anything resembling due process as understood in liberal western democracies.

It is this behavior, among many other pathologies afflicting the Office of the High Representative, which prompted the experts at the European Stability Initiative to refer to the office as a “European Raj” (Journal of Democracy, Volume 14, Number 3, July 2003).

It is time for the Office of the High Representative to support Dayton, and the entities it created, or abandon Dayton and return sovereignty to the people of the Republika Sprska and Bosnia.

MICHAEL ARNO

GREGORY MINJACK

Special Representatives

Republika Sprska

Washington

Hey, Congress, where’s the money?

“Getting serious about Social Security repair” by Jay Ambrose (Commentary, Friday) touches on the problems with our Social Security program and with getting Congress to address the program’s future demise.

Mr. Ambrose stated that when members of the Senate Budget Committee asked Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke how soon they should act on the Social Security problem, he said 10 years ago. They could have started 20 years ago.

The Federal Employees Retirement System was initiated Jan. 1, 1987. New federal employees after that date were enrolled in FERS. Federal employees covered by FERS fully contribute to Social Security, and Social Security benefits constitute a major part of their federal pensions. This boost in Social Security cash income along with the cash income from taxation of Social Security benefits created a very large surplus cash flow.

The Fed borrowed the surplus cash over the years and issued special bonds that are carried as the Social Security Trust Fund in the national debt. At the end of 2005, the Social Security Trust Fund’s value was $1.81 trillion.

If the Social Security surplus cash flow was put into a real trust fund at the same interest rate, the $1.81 trillion would be available, at no cost, for saving Social Security. Recovery of funds from the present Social Security Trust Fund must come from the current federal budget at a tremendous cost to the taxpayer.

It is not to late to forestall the early demise of Social Security for another 25 years or so. To do so we must establish a real Social Security Trust Fund and finance it with the predicted next 10 years’ surplus cash flow.

The American people should not be facing a problem that should have been solved many years ago. Could the reason that Congress won’t act to save Social Security through its surplus cash flow be that they already have it factored as income in the out-year budgets? Let’s hear from Congress.

JOHN T. MCVICKAR

Vienna

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