- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Don't blame Uncle Sam for Wall Street's woes

I frequently look to The Washington Times for sound and reasoned conservative views. So you can imagine how amused or, rather, amazed I was to read Richard Rahn's Op-Ed column claiming that the federal government is primarily responsible for the miserable state of the stock market ("War against the stock market," June 11).

Certainly taxes and regulation negatively affect the economy, but both have been around for a long time. As a firm believer in the free market and free enterprise, however, I am appalled by the conduct of those directly responsible for Wall Street's malaise the management of some major corporations. The inexcusable conduct of too many corporate leaders and their rewards for failure have depressed the stock market. The fact that about 900 corporations have had to restate their earnings reports or change their accounting practices after the gross misconduct at Enron, Arthur Andersen, Global Crossing and Tyco should indicate who is most to blame. This time it's not Uncle Sam.


JOSEPH J. HONICK

Tucson, Ariz.

The rights and wrongs of self-righteous indignation

In yesterday's Commentary column "Not on her Main Street," Linda Chavez describes how she and her husband went out of their way to harangue a merchant offering historic relics for sale in the charming community of Purcellville, Va. Specifically, they objected to the sale of a Nazi-era artifact (a swastika-emblazoned German flag) but not the sale of Soviet-era artifacts. Their reasoning: They live in a wonderful town.

Mrs. Chavez admits the merchant was operating legally and writes that there is no question that he had a First Amendment right to sell his war trophies in public. So, one wonders what makes her think she has any right to interfere with this poor man's exercise of that right on his property? According to her column, she is justified because the merchant had the temerity to disagree with her where she makes her home. Mrs. Chavez writes that the vendor could go anywhere else and operate his flea-market business without her objection, but she doesn't want him selling such artifacts in her neighborhood.

This small-minded hypocrisy is astounding coming from someone with a sterling record of dedication to the U.S. Constitution and what it means to our way of life. Mrs. Chavez notes in her column that the table of historic artifacts was set up in front of an antique gun store, to which she has no apparent objection. I know of many Americans who would gladly picket and close a legally operating gun store (even one selling "antique" guns) if they felt their shrill, obnoxious behavior could prevail over the rule of law. Would Mrs. Chavez support that?.

I have met other Americans who would do the same to close the state-run ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) store that vends spirituous liquors right off Business Route 7 in Purcellville; still others might try their hand at closing a church or two in the sleepy town if the denomination didn't preach their brand of salvation.

As Mrs. Chavez notes: "Having a legal right to do something doesn't necessarily make it the right thing to do. And this distinction seems increasingly not to occur to those preoccupied with their legal right to behave in whatever appalling fashion they choose." I hope that in time she and her husband might see that they are the ones behaving appallingly, not the vendor.

What makes Purcellville so special isn't necessarily its location in Virginia's verdant steeplechase country or its closeness to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, but the fact that it is just one of countless communities where Americans can live in harmony, even alongside those with whom they may disagree. At least, if the Chavez family doesn't object.


GEORGE STILL

Burke


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The critics of Linda Chavez's outraged reaction to her encounter with an antique dealer selling a Nazi flag have it all wrong ("Inside the Beltway," June 13). The efforts of Mrs. Chavez, her husband and her son to persuade the dealer to sell the Nazi item on the Internet rather than in the public square were well within their own Constitutional free-speech right. Their intense debate was in keeping with our robust democratic tradition.

Calling attention to the hateful nature of the swastika should not be trivialized as mere political correctness. There is nothing artificial or inflated about Mrs. Chavez's reaction to the Nazi symbol, which stands for mass murder and psychopathic theories of racial superiority. She herself has noted that the dealer had a First Amendment right to sell such items but that "having a right to do something doesn't necessarily make it the right thing to do." And opposing hate is not a "liberal" or "conservative" position.

Mrs. Chavez is a private citizen. She does not represent the government. The dealer made his own choice of whether to display or remove the item. So when one of her critics says he doesn't want the power "to determine what hate is to reside in Washington, D.C.," he is raising a false and deceptive non-issue. Another critic seems unable to distinguish the flaunting of a Nazi flag for sale from the context of its display in a museum dedicated to genuine historical knowledge and public education.

Mrs. Chavez is to be commended for her public-spiritedness and sense of decency. She understands that silence and passivity in the face of "little bigotries" pave the way for greater wrongs to follow.


ABRAHAM H. FOXMAN

National Director

Anti-Defamation League

New York




Linda Chavez's contention that it was OK for her husband to go on someone else's private property and start a shouting match because a vendor was selling something he and his wife "find offensive" is typical of the mind-set that predominates among our so-called public intellectuals: that they know what is right and the rest of us should follow suit.

There is a more specific critique of their behavior, however, and that is the object of their self-righteous indignation: a Nazi flag. After World War II, soldiers returned home with all manner of battlefield trophies, and nobody thought it was in bad taste. Why? Because they were souvenirs from a defeated enemy. Now they are historical artifacts that should remind us that Nazism has been relegated to the flea market of history. But even those few who want to use them as rallying points for Nazi-style hatred should be welcome to their right to do so, despite what Mrs. Chavez or her husband think about it.


CHRISTOPHER MCKEON

Washington

Immigration, on the level

An insightful article last Thursday, "Illegals in U.S. exploit loophole," reveals that until April 2001, illegal immigrants received permanent resident status through a law dubbed 245(i), by which aliens can apply for green cards without leaving the country. However, the article quotes Frank Sharry, executive director of the National Immigration Forum claiming the problem does not lie with 245(i). According to Mr. Sharry, "The problem is that we have few legal immigrant visas, that our legal immigration levels are overly restricted and do not match up to the reality of immigration in this country."

Mr. Sharry should be reminded that legal immigration is at its highest level in the history of the United States. Our nation granted permanent resident alien status to an average of 1 million people each year throughout the 1990s and 1.5 million last year. Mass immigration caused more than 70 percent of our 3.3 million person annual population growth during the 1990s the fastest among industrialized countries. Census Bureau statistics indicate that we are on track to reach a half-billion U.S. residents by 2050 and 1 billion by 2100. In other words, we'll become the size of China today.

According to George Borjas, Harvard University professor of public policy, the negative impact of our mass-immigration-generated population growth includes: an annual taxpayer cost of more than $70 billion for public services (i.e., after subtracting immigrants' tax contributions); $133 billion in depressed wages for American workers; and one acre of wild land or farmland lost for each person added to the population.

Mr. Sharry apparently welcomes an increasingly crowded America with negative returns. Some of us don't.


ZACH BOREN

Carrying Capacity Network

Washington


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