- The Washington Times - Friday, July 5, 2002

Hilliard's own failure defeated him, not outsiders

By partly blaming Jews for his primary defeat, now-lame duck Rep. Earl F. Hilliard, Alabama Democrat, is, as always, full of well, not the truth ("Rift between blacks, Jews cited in election," Tuesday). Artur Davis, who defeated Mr. Hilliard, did, indeed, receive much monetary support from Jewish donors. It must be pointed out, as well, that Mr. Hilliard received plenty of cash from Arab interests. Perhaps those connections he made during his visits to Libya's Col. Moammar Gadhafi paid off.
Despite the focus on his pro-Palestinian stance, there was little mention of foreign policy at all during the campaign. Mr. Davis pointed out that Mr. Hilliard's failures stemmed from taking his constituency for granted. That's why 56 percent of voters joined me in voting against him in the runoff.

Tuscaloosa, Ala.While Rep. Earl F. Hilliard's failure to support a recent resolution condemning terrorist attacks in Israel was a factor in Jewish support for his opponent, The Times' article neglected to mention his proposal that sanctions against Iran and Libya be lifted, his visit to Col. Moammar Gadhafi in Tripoli, his citations from the House Ethics Committee and his failure to deliver to the people of his district.
As the United States' war against terrorism continues, Alabama voters clearly wanted their views better reflected in Washington, as local papers long editorialized. Finally, for all of Mr. Hilliard's accusations, he actually raised a higher proportion of his campaign funds out of state than did Artur Davis.
Certainly there is no reason this race should cause a rift between blacks and Jews.

Hasbrouck Heights, N.J.

Smallpox redux

Criticizing my commentary ("Small thinking on smallpox," June 20), Jerome M. Hauer of the Department of Health and Human Services writes that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) held public forums in New York City, San Francisco, San Antonio, St. Louis and Washington ("HHS is thinking big on smallpox," Letters, June 28). True enough. But these forums were hastily put together, not widely advertised to the public and consequently not very well attended.

That hardly constitutes a wellspring of public opinion and input as part of the decision-making process for smallpox vaccination policy particularly when the CDC made clear well in advance of the final Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meeting in Atlanta on June 19-20 the policy direction in which it was heading, regardless of limited public input.

He also expresses concern over the possible transmission of the smallpox vaccine live virus to individuals who may develop life-threatening complications. Certainly, Mr. Hauer is aware that such instances are very rare and generally the result of household contact or children-to-children contact. This can be mitigated by the use of a semipermeable membrane dressing that prevents viral shedding. A self-quarantine is another option, and a decision could be made not to vaccinate children under a certain age (e.g., 5 years old, 9 years old).

Ultimately, Mr. Hauer demonstrates that his mind-set is still one of looking at smallpox as a public health problem to be handled by a small priesthood of "experts" when he writes that "the health of the American public must be our primary concern." He fails to appreciate or understand that smallpox bioterrorism is a national security problem and that the responsibility of the federal government is to protect the public from and prevent future terrorist attacks, including those potentially using the deadly smallpox virus.

So while the CDC's limited number of hastily arranged public forums meant that its largely predetermined policy recommendations were not made "behind closed doors," the thinking of its ACIP was driven by closed minds.


Senior defense policy analyst

Cato Institute


Social Security not prime for privatization

Alan Reynolds' suggestion ("Pension Pirates," Commentary, June 24) that my study on the decline of retirement wealth makes a case for privatizing Social Security is flawed and deceptive.

The purpose of my study, "Retirement Insecurity," (funded by the Retirement Research Foundation, to further correct Mr. Reynolds' misinformation) was to measure how well people now nearing retirement age can expect to do in retirement. The surprising finding in this research was that despite the boom times on the stock market, retirement income adequacy declined from 1989 to 1998.

The key to understanding this trend is to look at the middle, or median, rather than at average wealth, a number that is skewed by the tremendous growth in wealth among the very few at the highest reaches of the income scale. From 1983 to 1998, only households with net worth of $1 million or more gained retirement ground, and even though 401(k) plans increased by nearly 1,000 percent during this time, the number of Americans with private pension coverage remained largely unchanged.

My study shows that, unlike the more speculative private investment options, Social Security offers virtually universal coverage and is a solid foundation on which to lay additional retirement building blocks that include private savings and investments.

If Mr. Reynolds wants to better understand the potential pitfalls of privatizing Social Security, he should listen to an Enron worker whose retirement was riding on a 401(k).


Department of Economics

New York University

New York

Don't blame it all on dad

"Revenge incites parents who kill" (Nation, June 24) gives the false impression that fathers are more likely to abuse children than mothers.

The article quotes Nancy Ruhe-Munch, executive director of the National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children. According to her, cases in which a parent kills his or her child are "not as rare as you might think; normally, it's a stepparent. But it's not uncommon for the parent himself [to kill his offspring]. Usually, it's the father."

This is untrue. According to a Department of Health and Human Services report released in April 2001, "The most common pattern of maltreatment (44.7%) was a child victimized by a female parent acting alone. Female parents were identified as the perpetrators of neglect and physical abuse for the highest percentage of child victims. In contrast, male parents were identified as the perpetrators of sexual abuse for the highest percentage of victims."

Additionally, while acknowledging "there is no 'typical' child abuser," Prevent Child Abuse Wisconsin reports that data collected by 21 states show that 61.8 percent of child abuse perpetrators were female.

Many people want to excuse Andrea Yates for murdering her children because she suffered from postpartum depression. Some even want to blame her husband. Nevertheless, it should come as no surprise that the majority of perpetrators of child neglect and physical abuse are female.

The facts are there. Only after they are admitted can the reasons for such misbehavior be understood and dealt with.

Like many social concerns, only after you admit there is a problem can it be dealt with.


San Antonio

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