- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Work toward cooperation

It’s refreshing to read that the democratically elected president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, has again received a decisive victory in the recent recall referendum and that this has been verified by international monitors including former President Jimmy Carter (“Chavez survives recall; observers find no fraud,” World, Tuesday).

It seems to me that the United States should learn to live peacefully with the Chavez government in Venezuela and that we should tone down the rhetoric and work out a productive way of conducting our relationships that would benefit both countries.

Furthermore, in my opinion, the Bush administration should apologize for what appear to have been undemocratic efforts to throw this Venezuelan election by using “dirty tricks” that seem to have included bribing Venezuelan recall organizers and obtaining Venezuelan voter registration lists.

I believe the Bush administration should bring an end to its interventions in Venezuela and end what appear to have been continuing attempts to subvert and topple Mr. Chavez.

It is time for the United States to accept democracy in Venezuela.



To catch a rat

Does Richard Rahn imagine that there are people who possess the knowledge and means to capture Osama bin Laden, and who could in principle be bribed to do so, for whom $25 million is insufficient incentive (“How to find Osama,” Commentary, Sunday)?

When U.S. and British intelligence and special forces have been unable to do so, is there some merry band of mercenaries just waiting to have their reservation wage met? Not every problem has a market-based solution.

There are several unsolved math problems that have a standing $1 million prize for whoever solves one. The greatest mathematicians in the world have tried to do so. Raising the prize to $10 million or $100 million would not hasten the solution. In neither case will a larger purse lure anyone competent.


Los Angeles

McGreevey’s mismanagement

Although William F. Buckley Jr. makes an interesting comparison between the infidelities of New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey and Bill Clinton, the more significant issue at hand is the mismanagement the governor perpetrated upon New Jersey’s taxpayers (“What did McGreevey prove?” Commentary, Tuesday).

After raising taxes by more than $3 billion in his first two years, Mr. McGreevey capped off 2004 by raising taxes on cellular phones, cigarettes (the state’s tax already was highest in nation), cosmetic surgery and tires. Worst of all, he successfully passed his so-called “millionaire tax,” which boosted the state income-tax rate on incomes of $500,000 or more to 8.97 percent — a 41 percent increase. This soak-the-rich mentality gives New Jersey the sixth-highest income-tax rate in the nation and only worsens the state’s lousy business climate (ranked 40th nationwide).

Mr. McGreevey’s rush to raise income taxes was only one part of his effort to expand government and make the rule of law irrelevant. He also boosted spending by 13 percent in one year (the largest increase in state history), and he recently won a decision from the state’s Supreme Court allowing him to stretch New Jersey’s constitutional balanced-budget requirement to borrow $1.9 billion and feed his spending habit.

Corruption in New Jersey politics is nothing new. Unfortunately, Mr. McGreevey’s most lasting legacy is likely to be slower economic growth and fewer jobs.


Director of government affairs

National Taxpayers Union

Alexandria, Va.

Just consequences for malpractice

Your article “Edwards’ malpractice suits leave bitter taste” (Page 1, Monday) should not have been included in the news portion of your paper. It belongs under the byline of a columnist so readers can be informed in advance that they are reading opinion instead of fact. Not one iota of medical information was incorporated to tell readers why a particular suit won by Mr. Edwards might not have been a case of actual malpractice.

Insurers and doctors, bitter over costs of malpractice insurance, do not offer any facts to support this condemnation of Mr. Edwards for winning compensation for people legally found to have been egregiously damaged. Judges have the right to vacate judgments they think were awarded by juries misled by good acting on the part of plaintiff’s counsel. Few, if any, cases are ever won in the absence of medical evidence or “good science” presented by the defendants, if not the plaintiffs.

I worked with children having cerebral palsy for most of my 23-year career and know that medical error caused many cases of oxygen deprivation and/or birth trauma leading to brain damage. It takes more than $1 million to educate and support a damaged child for a lifetime.

If doctors are going to enjoy the financial benefits they deserve for treating the sick, they also must be willing to reap the financial consequences for errors that cause a patient lasting harm. Most doctors are not sued for their errors simply because the time, effort and investment needed to prove one’s case is beyond the reach of the average person. Only lawyers stand between many victims and any hope of financial recovery. One can never recover the intangible losses.

State medical societies must do more to police incompetent physicians who injure multiple patients without loss of licensure or even official censure. Don’t blame the victims of medical errors for obtaining some compensation for the permanent loss of a normal life or of life itself.


Cos Cob

A different view at UDC

William L. Pollard’s recent letter to the editor (“The community and the university,” Saturday) praising the mission and students at the University of the District of Columbia is impressively eloquent but belies his administration’s record.

His administration has burdened UDC with an unrealistic expansion of overpaid senior administrators, including the authorization of six vice presidents whose questionable credentials have caused havoc and outrage within the university community.

His administration repeatedly has prioritized personal perks associated with his presidential trappings, including opulent office amenities and a lavish, fully refurbished residential mansion, while student campus facilities and services continue to deteriorate and diminish rapidly.

His administration habitually has ignored the recommendations of the University Senate and the tenets of shared governance. It has failed to vigorously investigate missing financial records and further circumvented the three cornerstones of sound public policy: transparency, integrity and accountability. Overall, his administration has embodied an exaggerated sense of entitlement to allocated municipal funds by demonstrating a “trickle down” attitude regarding student, staff and faculty well-being.

In future comments, Mr. Pollard needs to acknowledge that the tarnished image of UDC, as properly reported in The Washington Times (“Panel demands upgrades at UDC,” Metropolitan, July 9), was the result of his own administration’s mismanagement of taxpayer funding.

He apparently has failed to recognize during his two-year tenure at the helm of UDC that the public provides for the financial support of UDC and that it is entitled to full accountability in assessing his legal responsibilities. It is time for an attitude change by his entire executive team in the direction of prudently benefiting all of the university’s stakeholders.


Professor of accounting

University of the District of Columbia


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