- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Researchers stung their study used to attack needle-exchange program

We are writing in response to the article "N.J. senator to fight state's needle plan" (Nation, Friday). The article states that N.J. state Sen. Gerald Cardinale plans to use data from our research study in his bid to oppose the initiation of a needle-exchange program in New Jersey. We strongly oppose this misuse of our study.
Research from our group at Johns Hopkins suggests that sexual behavior is an important risk factor for HIV infection among drug users, but in no way suggests that prevention programs such as needle exchange are unnecessary or ineffective. In fact, we and other researchers have shown that use of needle-exchange programs is associated with lower rates of HIV infection and needle sharing, greater admissions to drug-abuse treatment programs, fewer discarded needles on the street and no increase in crime. In the absence of a needle-exchange program in Baltimore, the role of needle sharing in spreading HIV among drug users would likely have been far greater. In our view, needle-exchange programs should be supported fully at the federal, state and city levels. These programs not only reduce the spread of HIV and viral hepatitis among persons who cannot or will not stop injecting, but they represent ideal venues to distribute condoms, offer STD screenings and diagnoses and make referrals to medical and drug-abuse treatments.

Associate Professor
Bloomberg School of Public Health
Johns Hopkins University

Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies
New York Academy of Medicine
New York

Columnist selectively critiqued Trade Rep's remarks

In his recent commentary, William R. Hawkins either deliberately distorts or simply does not understand U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick's reference to Sir Norman Angell's 1910 book "The Great Illusion" ("Basing policy on an illusion," Op-Ed, July 12 ).
To build his case, Mr. Hawkins quotes two points Mr. Zoellick made about globalization as it existed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in speeches about trade policy: First, that a "powerful combination of new technologies and new ideas combined with quickening economic openness led to a world of seemingly infinite possibilities;" and second, that "Angell maintained that the new complex financial and commercial interdependence made war useless and unlikely in the modern era."
Mr. Hawkins thinks Mr. Zoellick's reference to Mr. Angell is naive. Curiously, however, he does not quote the next paragraphs of Mr. Zoellick's remarks, which make precisely the point Mr. Hawkins accuses him of missing: that thinkers such as Mr. Angell were themselves dangerously naive. Here is the text that Mr. Hawkins chose to omit from his column:
"[Angell and many others] gravely underestimated the enemies the anarchists and terrorists of their day that the first modern era of globalization had spawned. They expressed defiance through political assassination, killing leaders all across Eurasia and North America. In June 1914, it was a terrorist's bullet that finally pushed Europe over the edge into a new dark age. The hopeful prospects of 100 years ago were overwhelmed by the dangerous ideas of the early 20th century: fascism, authoritarianism, communism, corporatism, isolationism and protectionism.
"The world learned anew that ideas can lead to cruelties and tragedies: wars, depression, mass starvation and genocide."
High praise for Mr. Angell? A claim that free trade makes war impossible? Only through a skewed edit by Mr. Hawkins. The actual purpose of the passage on Mr. Angell's work, of course, was not an endorsement but a warning: that technological improvement, social progress and economic openness are insufficient to promote peace and prosperity.
Mr. Hawkins would have benefited from some research before rushing off to write misinterpretations based on inaccuracies. I would suggest an article that Mr. Zoellick wrote in 1997 in the journal Survival, in which he pointed out that Mr. Angell himself eventually admitted that the thesis of "The Great Illusion" was wrong. "Balance of power had a bad smell with nearly all liberals, including this one," Mr. Angell acknowledged in 1951, but they "came to see that power politics were the politics of not being overpowered." Or Mr. Hawkins could have read a similar reference to "The Great Illusion" in a 1997 article in the National Interest by [Deputy Defense Secretary] Paul Wolfowitz a man few would accuse of not appreciating the role of power in foreign policy.
It is entirely possible, of course, that Mr. Hawkins was simply ill-informed about Mr. Angell. On the other hand, given the manner in which Mr. Hawkins distorted Mr. Zoellick's words, one cannot help but wonder if representatives of the questionably named U.S. Business and Industry Council are willing to say anything in their campaign against the freedom of Americans to trade.

Deputy Press Secretary
U.S. Trade Representative

Bright lights darken prospects for community

"Lights out" (Metro, July 12) is a scare piece that truly puts readers in the dark.
The lead runs: "It could be all dark on the western front if a small group of Loudoun County activists gets its way and forces residents and businesses to shut off their lights as early as 9 p.m. to preserve the night sky." Yet even level-headed readers unaware of growing ire toward retailers that flood the night with stagelike intense lighting will suspect hyperbole was a substitute for old-fashioned fact checking. More clues follow with business owner quotes in response to the reporter's worse-case-scenario questions, even though the proposal is in early draft stage.
But the less perceptive will join the mob, prodded by those always eager for fresh grist for their own mills. Shortly after "Lights out" ran, Rush Limbaugh seized on the story, repeating the rumor of "all lights out at 9 p.m," and so continued the bashing of lighting-standards advocates.
Developing community lighting-use standards is very similar in intent to more prevalent noise ordinances. Both involve recognizing that too much of a good thing is an unwarranted intrusion on others.

Indiana Council on Outdoor Lighting Education

Options are not funny money

Alan Reynolds' piece on stock options in Sunday's Commentary section is excellent ("Expensing: One for the books"), but I think Mr. Reynolds missed two key points.
First, when a corporation grants a stock option to an employee, there is no immediate outlay of any kind that properly can be considered as a charge against earnings, notwithstanding the fact that the option has value to the employee. When the option is exercised, the corporation issues stock to the employee at a price below its value in the marketplace. (If this were not the case, the option would not be exercised.) At this point, the corporation theoretically loses the difference between the then-value of its stock and the amount it collected for it under the option.
While this difference may not be reflected in earnings in an exact dollar amount (as it properly should not be, because the corporation has not lost anything it started out with), one cannot lose sight of the fact that there still will be a related reduction in earnings for the market to consider not in total corporate earnings, but in earnings per share, because there are now more shares outstanding. Thus, it is totally misleading for critics to claim that the cost of stock options is not reflected in corporate earnings, and, thus, not in the marketplace.
Even so, there still remains a problem with options: namely, that many key executives have been left free to grant themselves an overabundance of them. Theoretically, shareholders should be able to prevent this, but, practically speaking, this is not the case, which leaves room for some argument that legislation in some form may be necessary to curb this excess.


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