- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 24, 2005

Speak out against Sharia law

Ibrahim Hooper’s outrage over a Cal Thomas column (“CAIRrespondstoCal Thomas,” Letters, Saturday) would be more believable if Mr. Hooper himself hadn’t already provided enough quotable material to give people pause regarding his motives.

For instance, Mr. Hooper is on record as having stated, “I wouldn’t want to create the impression that I wouldn’t like the U.S. government to be Islamic some time in the future. … But I’m not going to do anything violent to promote that. I’m going to do it through education.”

I thank Mr. Hooper for not wanting to use violence to add the United States to the worldwide caliphate. However, the idea is disturbing regardless of the means used to reach this goal.

If one looks around the world, one could conclude that countries governed by Sharia law are economic and political basket cases, with draconian, barbaric punishments for minor offenses and institutionalized sexism, religious-based discrimination and “dhimmitude” or second-class citizen status for all non-Muslims. Call me crazy, but the prospect of living under either Taliban or Saudi-like rule somehow doesn’t seem very appealing.

As a Christian there are many aspects of U.S. society that I do not agree with, but terrorizing and killing those who disagree with me isn’t on my to-do list, nor do I consider those whose beliefs are at odds with my own to be infidels. They are nothing less than equal before the law, and just as worthy of life.

In the last paragraph of Mr. Hooper’s letter, he states that Mr. Thomas’ assertions “must be rejected by reasonable people of all faiths who seek a more peaceful future.” Well, I consider myself both peaceful and reasonable. However, peace at all costs simply isn’t in my makeup.

Unless and until groups like CAIR repudiate the very idea of establishing Islamic law in place of our constitutional order I will stand opposed to all of their efforts and will do my very best to educate my fellow citizens in that regard.



Trouble with the flat tax

Steve Forbes make a compelling case that the income tax is too complicated and needs reform (“Americans deserve flat tax,” Op-Ed, Wednesday). But his case for the flat tax falls flat. Much of the complexity of the tax code is due to the trouble of defining what income is. The flat tax wouldn’t eliminate this task. The rates we apply to income are the least complicated parts of our tax system. As long as we are taxing income, we will have an interest in writing in exemptions, exclusions and loopholes. Note that the Reagan-era tax simplification didn’t last long.

Tax simplification would eliminate a drag on our economy, but we can address other economic problems depending on what we replace our current system with. Our dependence on imported oil and our trade deficit are two linked weaknesses of our current economy that a flat tax would do nothing to address.

Instead of a flat tax, we should shift taxes off of income and onto oil. This would create an incentive to conserve energy and develop renewable alternatives.

The need to address our dependence on oil is more pressing than has generally been acknowledged. America’s oil production has been in decline since 1970. We have less than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, yet use around 25 percent of world oil production. The Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas now predicts that global oil production will peak around 2008. If we do nothing to address our oil addiction, the market will solve the problem for us by shipping our wealth to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, as the far more efficient Asians and Europeans buy what remains of the oil and our economy flounders. A tax shift from income to oil would serve our nation far better than the flat tax.



The role of a Supreme Court Justice

The Democrats’ response to President Bush’s announcement of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. as his Supreme Court nominee (“Bush names Roberts to Supreme Court,” Page 1, Wednesday) included Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, who said: “Now that he is nominated for a position where he can overturn precedent and make law, it is even more important that he fully answers a broad range of questions.”

Mr. Schumer’s statement that a Supreme Court justice can make law is wrong and gives a clear window into his ignorance of the powers and responsibilities of Supreme Court justices. It also doesn’t bode well for his understanding of his own position as a U.S. senator, which is to make laws.

Article I of the Constitution gives the legislative branch, not the judicial branch, such power. Our courts are charged with deciding arguments about the meaning of laws and how to apply the law.

Mr. Schumer’s comments should not be quickly dismissed. They are to be seriously considered because they reveal a gross flaw in his thinking and understanding of the roles of Congress and the judiciary. Such wrong thinking is especially troubling from a U.S. senator and helps explain the juvenile rhetoric that so often spews from Congress.



China’s competitive advantage

Bill Gertz’s articles on Chinese theft of U.S. technology are right on the money (“Chinese military buildup reaches beyond Taiwan,” Nation, Wednesday). Unfortunately, the problem is not them — it is us. The entire U.S. computer industry has moved to China already, if one counts Taiwan as part of China — which is official U.S. policy.

I’ve worked in Silicon Valley for 25 years, 16 of them at Sun Microsystems. Every company here has an “outsourcing strategy” for manufacturing, engineering and even customer service. If you told a venture-capital firm that you intended to do large-scale engineering or manufacturing in the United States (especially in California), they would laugh you out of their offices. What young American would want to go to engineering school when our MBA-led firms are outsourcing their engineering to China and India? A Ph.D.-level engineer in China earns about $15,000 per year. What American chip manufacturer can compete with Taiwanese companies TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.) and UMC (United Micro Electronics Corp.)?

The best engineers in China and India got their education in the United States. Many spent years working for U.S. firms on their H1-B visas. Now they’ve taken their knowledge back home, where they have an infinite supply of labor costing less than 60 cents per hour. They have no environmental laws, Social Security, workers’ compensation, etc. (Why do you think PCs and DVD players are so cheap?)

The fact is that any technological edge the United States now enjoys will evaporate in less than five years. Their engineers are every bit as smart as ours; there are more of them and their government supports them. U.S. businesses treat engineers as expense items and, with the approval of our government, spend billions of dollars in China every month. We are simply reaping what we have sown. The Chinese can now build Aegis cruisers and W-88 armed nuclear submarines. What a surprise.


Santa Cruz, Calif.

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