- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 14, 2005

Ehrlich’s hiring and firing practices

The witch hunt being perpetrated by Maryland Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch, reported by S.A. Miller (“Miller mum on bias charges,” Metropolitan, June 30) is another example of how far some Democrats will go to maintain, and abuse, power.

The investigation into Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s administrative practices is nothing but an orchestrated campaign to malign the governor before November 2006.

While the investigation is hypocritical and unseemly, the worst part is that I, and all Maryland taxpayers, will be footing the bill for these shenanigans. When they say it will be fair, we must all learn we cannot take them at their words. Mr. Miller and Mr. Busch are Mr. Ehrlich’s most vocal opponents, but if their investigation is going to go forward, let’s look at Mr. Miller and Mr. Busch’s hiring and firing practices. They are the ones who helped change the rules in 1998, which increased the number of appointees to 7,000.

I don’t want to pay for these power plays by Mr. Miller and Mr. Busch. Neither should anyone else.



AL EISNER

Wheaton

Financial support for biotech firms

James C. Greenwood is correct to emphasize how much support small businesses in biotechnology need in their early stage of growth (“Support smallbusiness,”Op-Ed, Wednesday). Indeed, many would go bankrupt without research and other grants. Even later, marketing support is needed to ensure that their goal of developing new medicines, vaccines and diagnostics remains on track.

Given the nature of business risk facing small biotech firms, it is natural that groups of investors, organized as venture capital funds, are necessary to finance start-ups.

Unlike software companies, which can be financed by a few individuals because they often can produce a product for sale in a few months or a year, biotechs require many years of support before they yield tangible products and services for sale.

The Small Business Administration would do well to undertake a study specific to this important industry to see how its programs and policies could be tailored to this industry’s very specific needs.

DR. SUNIL CHACKO

New Info Solutions LLC

McLean

Mr. Greenwood makes a good case for restoring federal grants to biotech firms in his Wednesday Op-Ed column, which would be expected of the president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, but perhaps a better approach would be to eliminate the entire grant-making program and return the money to taxpayers.

The awards, made under the Small Business Administration’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, have been eliminated for companies receiving a majority of their funding from venture capitalists and other large investors. The two Missouri Republicans sponsoring legislation to restore these subsidies, Rep. Sam Graves and Sen. Christopher S. Bond, and others from the school of “because the government is going to spend this money anyway, this is how it should be spent,” want to stimulate U.S. industry, which is laudable, but is this the right approach?

If the government were to get out of the business of targeting “seed” money and return that money to taxpayers, who in many cases would invest it, the market would be awash in potential venture capital. Given Congress’ ability to shrewdly invest $25,000 for the study of mariachi music in Clark County, Nev., and $75,000 for the Paper Industry International Hall of Fame in Appleton, Wis., it clearly is advisable to allow the free market to decide which biotech firms and which new drugs to back. The fact that these firms already draw venture capital shows that they would succeed if government subsidies were refunded to the vast American investor class.

DALE JOHNSON

Ashburn

Short-term memory

An unwitting yet hideous example of the politically correct, can’t-we-move-on short memories of the elites exposed in Tony Blankley’s spot-on analysis “Short memories, politically correct lies” (Op-Ed, Wednesday) appeared concurrently in London’s left-wing Guardian. With nary a week having passed after the worst terror attack in London since World War II, a Blair Cabinet minister took to its pages to warn Englanders of “the greatest challenge facing the global community.” This greatest threat is, of course … climate change.

Yes, it is true. While the bodies of the victims of the real threat confronting civilized man still lay buried under an exploded train car, and the blood still ran in the tubes that for 80 such days and nights during the blitzkrieg harbored London’s brave citizenry, the current secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, Margaret Beckett, opened her stirring call to action with this obscenity. Why not name Y2K or the Loch Ness Monster instead as the greatest threat is anyone’s guess.

What is clear is that — all proper admiration for our plucky British cousins notwithstanding — this particular display from the leadership is a far cry from “we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills … .”

CHRIS HORNER

Senior fellow

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Washington

Electronic waste

Dana Joel Gattuso’s opinion column on electronic waste (“E-waste: Electronic paperweight crisis?” Commentary, Tuesday) was factually inaccurate and misrepresented the intentions of the Congressional E-Waste Working Group.

Ms. Gattuso argues that electronic waste is a fictitious problem. However, the inspector general of the Environmental Protection Agency released a report last year that identifies e-waste as the fastest-growing municipal waste stream in the United States. The same report found that 70 percent of the heavy metals in municipal landfills come from improperly discarded electronics. The EPA goes on to say that “heavy metals such as lead and mercury are highly toxic substances that can cause well-documented adverse health effects, particularly to children and developing fetuses.”

Unless Ms. Gattuso considers the EPA an “eco-activist group,” her conclusions are off-base.

California, Maine and Maryland have recognized that e-waste is a problem, and each has begun to implement a different approach to e-waste recycling. Twenty-six additional states also are considering e-waste legislation. Without federal action, both consumers and businesses will have to contend with an unmanageable patchwork of state laws.

The Congressional E-Waste Working Group was formed with the objective of investigating possible federal e-waste solutions and educating members of Congress about the issue. The working group’s first event was a forum titled “E-Waste: Is a National Approach Necessary?” Representatives from Hewlett-Packard, Panasonic, Sony, the Consumer Electronics Association, the Electronics Industries Alliance, the Consumer Electronics Retailers Coalition and Goodwill Industries all agreed to the value of a national approach.

We are committed to working with all stakeholders, including consumers, manufacturers, retailers and nonprofit organizations, to reach a common-sense national e-waste plan. Ms. Gattuso and the Competitive Enterprise Institute should contact us to discuss their ideas for reducing e-waste.

As the evidence continues to mount and as states continue to develop their own approaches, the need for a federal solution only grows. At some point, you can’t throw your hands up anymore; you have to roll up your sleeves and act.

REP. MIKE THOMPSON

REP. LOUISE SLAUGHTER

REP. RANDY “DUKE” CUNNINGHAM

REP. MARY BONO

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington

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