- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 16, 2002

President, not columnist, has right plan for tech sector

When it comes to reviving the tech economy, President Bush has it right. Unfortunately, Jeffrey Eisenach does not ("Reviving the tech sector," Commentary, Wednesday).

Clearly, the high-tech economy has been battered, but there are two reasons why Mr. Eisenach's call for federal deregulation of the Bell companies would make matters worse.

First, this would undercut remarkably successful efforts already under way in Michigan, New York, Illinois and elsewhere. These states are successfully promoting phone competition through imaginative plans that would be prohibited under a federal pre-emption.

Second, such a one-sided federal action at this stage would be tantamount to an industrial policy of picking winners and losers.

Federal meddling typically does more harm than good, and this case is no exception. Any attempt to revise our telecommunications laws will inevitably mean years of litigation. That, in turn, will produce precisely the kind of regulatory uncertainty that harms investment and job creation.

That's why the president has been correct to shy away from proposing a laundry list of changes. In the long run, such willy-nilly actions can do a lot more harm than good.


CHARLIE BLACK

Voices for Choices

Washington

Give poor, huddled masses a better life back home

John Toivonen regards having refugees come to America as a grand and glorious thing ("Open the doors to freedom," Op-Ed, July 4). Maybe this was true 50 or more years ago, but not today.

Today's "refugees" often arrive on a plane subsidized by U.S. taxpayer dollars. Then they are told the best states in which to live, i.e., those that provide the best welfare benefits. Such a state is my own, Minnesota. Then they are told the best town in which to live, which often happens to be my town, Owatonna, where they collect welfare that is funded by local taxpayers.

Since the mass influx of refugees here, our taxes, both state and local, have gone up drastically. After all, someone has to pay for the welfare stipends, which the new arrivals may send back "home" to their relatives; build bigger schools and hire more teachers to teach the refugees' non-English-speaking children; house them; and to pay their medical expenses.

Defenders such as Mr. Toivonen say refugees help fill the cheap labor market. Yet cheap it has not been. We subsidize those low-paying jobs with taxpayer money that pays for the public services the refugees so liberally use. Lower wages force our own youths to move to places where they can make decent wages.

We are sorry that the refugees' native lands are in turmoil, but even the United Nations has said it would be best for everyone if they would stay home. The more than $600 million in grant money spent on federal refugee resettlement programs could be spent more wisely, and at a reduced cost, by helping people in their own countries. Maybe by doing that we would help ourselves and our own youths, too.


MAVIS GASNER

Owatonna, Minn.

Sportsmen flush out Humane Society charges

On July 6, The Washington Times ran a letter to the editor, "Don't be cruel to Humane Society," by Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Irwin. Mr. Irwin criticized Gene Mueller, The Times' outdoors writer, for what he called inaccuracies about HSUS in Mr. Mueller's June 19 and June 26 columns, which were based partly on a May 16 news release from the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance.

The HSUS CEO commented, "Gene Mueller is acting as a shill for the extremist U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance." Mr. Mueller merely provided an independent report based on documented findings.

HSUS says a great many things that we find disingenuous, but a lot of its dishonesty is contained in what it doesn't say. For instance, its name would suggest that it maintains animal shelters. In fact, it doesn't manage a shelter anywhere in America. I wonder how many of its supporters know that.

The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, on the other hand, represents more than 1.5 million constituents who enjoy outdoor sports. They are mainstream Americans who have been responsible for providing billions of dollars through taxes, license fees and direct donations to restore wildlife to its most plentiful state in more than a century.

According to HSUS' latest income-tax Form 990, less than 1 percent of its $67 million income was spent on grants and allocations for "wildlife, animal habitat and sheltering."

Rather, HSUS spends most of its time and resources trying to end animal use in America. For example, it has encouraged its members to support legislation to prohibit the hunting of mourning doves in Michigan and black bears in New Jersey. The group has consistently opposed sportsmen and wildlife biologists in attempts to pass federal and state legislation to promote and enhance recreational hunting.

HSUS opposes other forms of animal use as well. According to its Web site, it promotes materials that "support efforts to eliminate or restrict the use of performing wild animals" in circuses, and it has developed a campaign to "end the use of animal fur in this century." The organization's efforts are also "aimed at decreasing and eventually eliminating" animal use in research, and it promotes a vegetarian diet.

The anti-animal-use agenda that the Humane Society advocates is slowly being revealed. In essence, HSUS wants to stop Americans from hunting, fishing, seeing the circus and eating steak. If you or a loved one enjoys the outdoors, enjoys an occasional hamburger or owes his or her life to the use of animals in medical technology, thank a biologist, farmer or medical researcher. Don't thank the Humane Society of the United States.


WALTER P. PIDGEON JR.

President and chief executive officer

U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance

Columbus, Ohio

Let the stars get in your eyes

While The Times' reporting and editorial content are excellent, I do have one recommendation to make the paper even better, and it involves the weather page. Given the size and extent of the weather coverage, the page devotes very little space to astronomical data. The current format provides only rise and set times for the sun and the moon, plus the moon phase. Many leading newspapers also provide the daily rise and set times for the major visible planets, and some even include a small chart showing their locations at dawn and dusk. As an avid astronomer, I can access assorted online sites to obtain this planetary information, but it would be nice to have it readily available on the weather page. Including such data also might encourage casual sky watchers to look up and appreciate the beauty of the solar system.


STEVEN A. RABINOWITZ

Silver Spring

Uncertain government support may derail Amtrak's allies

The article "Area rail lines look to cut ties to Amtrak" (Page 1, July 9) showed no such thing. It revealed that commuter lines were looking for ways to continue service in case Congress allows Amtrak to go out of business, as it almost did this past week. That sounds like common sense, given Congress' unpredictability in funding this important national asset.

Amtrak is not the culprit; it's the victim. Buried deep in the story is the statement that Virginia Railway Express is "happy" with Amtrak commuter services but worried about the parent's financial health.

The problem with the article is that not one of the commuter rail lines is looking to "cut ties" with Amtrak. They are looking, quite properly, for more secure sourcing so that their riders will be less beholden to the whims of Congress. Competition will be good for all involved, including Amtrak if it is ever funded at the levels promised. The solution is the same one we have used for highways and airlines for decades: a steady source of capital and a commitment to system development, the way Europe and Japan do it. Is there room for private operators in that mix? You bet, once Amtrak's infrastructure is where it needs to be.


JAMES P. REPASS

President and CEO

The National Corridors Initiative

Providence, R.I.


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