- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 6, 2003

When it all goes South

I agree with Sen. Zell Miller’s comments (“How Democrats lost the South,” Page 1, Monday). He reminds me of my grandfather, who was active in New York state politics with the Democratic Party.

The party is going to have to reinvent itself, perhaps even return to its libertarian roots of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison — a belief in limited government, individual liberty and freedom.

Government doesn’t create wealth. The interaction of individuals and the private sector does that. We have seen tax and spending increases — impoverishing forces.

Make the right choice and create a better future. Thank you.

GEORGE E. BARTHEL JR.

Peachtree City, Ga.

In regard to the book excerpt “How Democrats lost the South”: As a transplanted Southerner, I see one Democrat whom I call “a hard dog to keep under the porch.” Presidential candidate Howard Dean never depended on his party to find out what he should believe or what Americans need. He went to the people.

As a result, Democrats and Republicans voted for him again and again, and he never lost an election. As a physician and governor of Vermont, he understood that all Americans need secure jobs, good schools, affordable health care and housing. He delivered, putting this state at the top of the heap, and without running up a debt. North or South, to know this smart, practical, independent and hardworking man is to love him. He’s a Democrat Southerners can trust.

ANN DWYER

Montpelier, Vt.

Sen. Zell Miller decries “’[t]he Groups’ and money. Money and ‘the Groups,’” (“‘Able Democrats, but left-wing all the way,’” Page 1, Tuesday) when it comes to the inordinate and generally unwholesome influence lobbyists have on the nation’s legislative agenda.

Mr. Miller states that “when ‘the Groups’ say ‘frog,’ each party jumps,” and that “the Democrats clearly win the vertical leap when ‘frog’ is yelled by NARAL Pro-Choice America or by the [government labor union] AFSCME” or, one supposes, environmental groups such as the Sierra Club. Mr. Miller ignores the fact that the resources of these liberal groups pale in comparison with the tens of millions spent by right-leaning business lobbies, which generally outspend the left.

How else to explain the lavish giving of business lobbies in congressionalraces,President Bush’s commanding lead in fund raising and the vehement opposition of Republicans such as Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell to even modest campaign-finance reform? The gun, tobacco, pharmaceutical and agribusiness lobbies do more than their share of yelling “frog,” and Republicans can jump with the best of them.

ROBERT BERRY

Montgomery Village

Messy mercantilism

Bruce Bartlett says Spanish mercantilism failed because the gold and silver mined in Spain’s colonies was “wasted” (“Tariff temptations,”Commentary, Wednesday). How it was wasted gives the lesson for today. According to historian Jaime Vicens Vives, “A great number of foreign vessels were constantly docking in the port of Seveille, bringing in manufactured products and taking away gold and silver from Mexico and Peru … imports were almost double exports,” which explains why the precious metals were scarce in Spain only weeks after the arrival of the American treasure galleons.

Historians have tracked the flow of specie across Europe as it stimulated industry and employment in those countries that created and sold goods to Spain — countries that would use their new capabilities to displace Spain in the balance of power. Spain was the first global superpower, but it let its economic base fall away.

Mr. Vicens Vives cites as an “absurd defence” of this ruinous policy the claim by Alfonso Nunez de Castro in 1675 that “Madrid is the queen of Parliaments, for all the world serves her and she serves nobody.” A financial collapse hit in 1680 because such a trade imbalance could not be sustained even in an empire that could pull money out of the ground.

Today, the United States pulls money out of the air, printing or borrowing dollars to finance its unsustainable trade deficit, with the import-export ratio approaching 2-1. Americans are consuming, but foreign industries are expanding to command the future. This is the core of Adam Smith’s criticism of mercantilism; consumption is a false measure of wealth. The real “wealth of nations” is the ability to produce, a hard truth of history Mr. Bartlett ignores when he embraces the surge of imported goods coming from a rising China.

WILLIAM R. HAWKINS

Senior fellow

U.S. Business and Industry Council

Washington

Back to basics

As a 1998 Haverford graduate, I was both heartened and a little surprised to read Melana Zyla Vickers’ article “Freshmen shortchanged” (Culture, Oct. 31): heartened because I agreed with her criticism of liberal arts colleges today, but surprised because Haverford’s curriculum is not really as traditional as the article and accompanying graphic would imply.

In fact, I had the dubious honor of being the sole conservative editorialist at Haverford who criticized the freshman English course offerings. While Haverford does offer a more traditional freshman writing course, it is substantially more work and credit-hours, and the college fails to tell students that the standard freshman writing course focuses on a political movement du jour of the professor’s choosing. Mine was black female writers of the 20th century. To this day, every classic I have read has been outside of college.

Perhaps even more disturbing, however, was students’ response to my article in the college newspaper criticizing the curriculum. I was branded publicly and indelibly as a racist and bigot. I even was threatened physically and warned by students that they would seek to have me expelled. In my mind, such intolerance to different perspectives is the worst sin of liberal arts colleges today. A politically correct curriculum is bad, but the unwillingness to question it is worse.

ILANA GREENSTEIN

Washington

Tune in to cable for local coverage

Regarding Jennifer Harper’s article on local broadcast coverage (“Study finds ‘near blackout’ of local public issues on TV,” Nation, Oct. 28), I was struck by the omission of any mention of cable television and its substantial contribution to coverage of local events.

Cable television is not only offering 24-hour local news channels in about two dozen markets, but in many cases, also is providing coverage of state, regional and local events that is far superior to anything on broadcast television.

Cable operators, for instance, are providing a wide array of local news reporting. Channels include a growing number of state public affairs networks — 20 and counting — that often are based on the C-SPAN model and that offer in-depth coverage of state government and politics. In addition, cable-based regional news networks, such as News Channel 8 here, offer round-the-clock coverage of local news and events. Cable’s many local public, education and government channels often provide gavel-to-gavel coverage of local government, community and civic meetings.

Together, these channels offer cable subscribers — television viewers — a far more complete picture of the local community than can be received from broadcast television alone.

Just as with children’s programming, coverage of science, politics and other matters critical to Americans, cable has filled the void left behind by the changing nature of broadcast television through its commitment to local communities.

ROB STODDARD

Senior vice president

Communications and public affairs

National Cable & Telecommunications Association

Washington


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