- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 12, 2002

United is bankrupt, not ESOPs

Bruce Bartlett's column on employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) tries to equate the concept with Marxism ("Downward drift of a dream," Commentary, Monday). That would come as a considerable surprise to Ronald Reagan, Jesse Helms, the late Barry Goldwater and other distinctly non-Marxist types who have strongly supported the idea.
Furthermore, Mr. Bartlett says the bulk of the research on employee ownership shows it does not improve performance. That would come as a surprise to Joseph Blasi and Douglas Kruse, who in 2000 studied not a sample of ESOPs, but every ESOP set up over an extended period during the 1990s. They concluded that ESOP companies grow 2.3 percent to 2.4 percent per year faster than would have been expected if the companies did not have ESOPs. The largest study specifically of public companies with ESOPs done by Hamid Meharan, then of Northwestern University, now at the Federal Reserve reached a similar conclusion concerning ESOPs in these companies.
United Airline's ESOP was a failure, and the concept has not worked at some other companies. On the other hand, lots of other companies that are not employee owned have failed, and no one seems to editorialize about how investor ownership has failed as a model. Mr. Bartlett's conclusions are based more on what he wants to be true than what is true.

Executive director
National Center for Employee Ownership
Oakland, Calif.

Islam's strength in numbers

The projection that the Muslim population of the world will exceed other religions by 2023 should not be considered proof of the inherent value of that religion ("Inside the Beltway," Nation, Tuesday).
With numerous adherents being added by a very high birthrate, forced conversions in Africa and proselytizing in prisons, Islam has indeed expanded its numbers rapidly. That some Muslim countries execute Muslims who leave the faith further ensures against erosion in numbers.
On the other hand, with declining populations in much of the industrialized world, the number of Christians has decreased. Does this mean that Islam is superior? No. Rather, it proves that unchecked population growth and militant conversion efforts do pay off to the detriment of nations that have extended welcome and sanctuary to radical adherents of Islam.

Silver Spring

Foreign-policy disparities

According to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, "Any differences must be resolved peacefully and without resort to force or coercion."
Reading this comment out of context, one might conclude she has finally endorsed a diplomatic approach to Iraq. The problem is that she was referring to China and the threat suggesting that China would use nuclear weapons (i.e., "weapons of mass destruction") against Los Angeles ("Chinese general told threat against U.S. unacceptable," Nation, yesterday).
Alas, it seems that Miss Rice and the Bush administration's foreign policy can be summed up as follows: Resolve conflicts peacefully and without resort to force or coercion when dealing with countries capable of retaliating against us, but resolve them with force and coercion when they are sitting ducks.

Wyckoff, N.J.

Get along, little dogie

I love to hear a fellow Texan praised as Horace Cooper praised Rep. Dick Armey ("Armey rides into the sunset: Our heroes have always been cowboys," Op-Ed, Tuesday). Thanks so much for running this tribute.
Now for the nitpicking: One doesn't use a lariat to lasso "doggies," which are canines. The word should be "dogies." A dogie is a motherless calf, and a great lot of trouble to raise, even today. You have to hand-feed them; with no mothers to discipline and guide them, they run off and get into trouble. They were, and are, a royal pain to any cowboy.


Retirees are aware of services

Mike Causey ("Two million ex-feds likely in the dark on long-term care," Federal Report, Nation, Nov. 19) states that retirees have been left out of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program because of their inability to avail themselves of information available at the office or on our Web site www.ltcfeds.com.
Our data show that annuitants and retired members of the uniformed services are well aware of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program. People age 55 and older are responding to our direct-mail campaign (sent to more than 4 million, including all federal annuitants as well as retired members of the uniformed services) and participating in a number of the educational meetings held all over the country.
The vast majority of 800,000-plus callers to our call center are annuitants. We have placed many ads in federal publications targeted at annuitants and retired members of the uniformed services and have participated in national gatherings, including the Biennial International Convention of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees (NARFE), held this past September.
Annuitants of the federal government and retired members of the uniformed services have been given many opportunities to learn about the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program, which is evident from the larger-than-expected number of requests for program materials and number of applicants.
Annuitants seeking more information about the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program are urged to contact Long Term Care Partners at 800/LTC-FEDS (800/582-3337) or visit our Web site.

Chief executive
Long Term Care Partners
Portsmouth, N.H.

Single-sex success stories

I applaud Deborah Simmons' column about Moten Elementary School ("Boys and girls, not together," Op-Ed, Friday). Mrs. Simmons is right to call attention to the extraordinary success of this school, where academic performance skyrocketed after Principal George Smitherman converted it to a single-sex academy. Mr. Smitherman's move didn't involve spending more money or adding more teachers. The experience at Moten shows that it's possible to improve the quality of public schools without spending more money but only if educators are willing to think outside the box.
There was one significant error in the column, however. Mrs. Simmons asserts that "only 16 public schools in the United States offer single-sex programs." The correct number is 46, not 16. Thirty public schools in the United States offer single-sex classrooms in the context of a coed school. (For a complete listing, go to www.singlesexschools.org.) Students at those schools can choose either single-sex or coed classrooms. Another 16 public schools including Western High School in Baltimore and the Philadelphia High School for Girls offer only single-sex classrooms.

Executive director
National Association for Single Sex Public Education

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