- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Junk economics

Steven Milloy presents an inaccurate picture of the economic consequences of climate policies (“Illegitimate son of Kyoto?” Commentary, Thursday). Indeed, he offers the same sort of baseless doom and gloom he purports to criticize.

Activities that produce greenhouse-gas emissions bring us substantial economic benefits. We easily travel long distances, heat homes and produce newspapers. These benefits are enjoyed by the people and companies that consume energy and the resulting products.

Greenhouse-gas emissions also create costs by changing climate, however. For example, temperatures and sea levels rise, storms become more common and intense, etc. Estimating the costs of climate change is complicated, but efforts suggest that a ton of carbon recently emitted causes $5 to $125 in damage.

Critically, these costs are paid by all, not just by those who consume energy. This public subsidy gives everyone an incentive to use energy, even when the resulting public costs exceed the private benefits, and that is a drag on the economy. As a result, policies that incorporate climate-change costs into the price of energy would actually benefit the economy.

Claims to the contrary rely on fear-mongering through statements of doom and gloom and lack economic credibility.

PAUL HIGGINS

Visiting research fellow

University of California at Berkeley

Pakistan a friend of U.S.

Arnaud de Borchgrave never lets an opportunity go by without showing Pakistan as a danger to the United States. (“Know your enemy” Commentary, Friday). Contrary to what he says, Pakistan has captured more than 600 al Qaeda members and handed them over to the United States. Pakistan is an established ally of the United States against the war on terrorism. Pakistani soldiers have given their lives fighting al Qaeda remnants near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Recently, Washington has designated Pakistan as a non-NATO ally.

Had the United States not put extreme sanctions and abandoned Pakistan during the 1990s, Islamabad would not have exported nuclear technology to the oil-rich states of Iran and Libya.

What Pakistan did in the past in regard to nuclear technology is a direct result of the U.S. disengagement policy applied to Islamabad for more than a decade. In short, Washington’s selfishness is directly responsible for Pakistan’s past Machiavellian behavior.

DAVID KHAN

Juneau, Alaska

Elections, public interest and money

The bipartisan bill that bears the names of Sens. John McCain and Russell Feingold, if not perfect, goes a long way toward reaching one of Carnegie Corp. of New York’s goals of enriching the democratic process and making sure that the public interest, not money, has the last word in our electoral system.

President Bush agreed to sign the legislation into law. In the 1990s, the board of trustees of Carnegie Corp. focused on the need to emphasize people, not money, in the election process, and one of their strategies called for campaign finance reform at the state and local levels.

For 14 years, we’ve worked for that reform — better disclosure of campaign contributions is a clear result — and we’re proud of the successes both locally and nationally.

Your editorial, (“Propaganda andthemoneytrail,” Wednesday), would have readers believe support from foundations like ours did not build on genuine grass-roots energy. I beg to differ.

Ask the folks in Arizona, Maine, New York City and North Carolina, for example, where nationally acclaimed campaign finance reforms have been passed and implemented by both elected officials and through ballot initiatives approved by the voters.

Since the birth of our democracy, it is the people — the citizenry — who toil in the vineyards to protect and strengthen our democracy. To suggest otherwise diminishes all who work to protect the public interest.

GERI MANNION

Chair

Strengthening U.S. Democracy

Program

Carnegie Corp.

New York

Minutemen are not vigilantes

President Bush’s disregard for the rule of law is obvious by his characterization of patriotic citizens who intend to assist border agents in enforcing our immigration laws as vigilantes (“Vigilantes” Editorial, Friday). I prefer calling the volunteers of the Minuteman project undocumented border patrol agents. They are just good-hearted Americans who are willing to do jobs the Border Patrol agents cannot effectively do because there are too few of them, thanks to Mr. Bush.

The objective of the Minuteman project is to highlight the failure of our government to secure our borders. These volunteers realize that our open-border policies are insidiously destroying America by causing untold social, economic and security chaos.

Mr. Bush’s solution is to pass a massive guest-worker program, which rewards illegal aliens and lawbreaking corporations that openly hire illegals. The president’s guest-worker program is just a ruse to continue his cheap labor open-border policies and will only exacerbate our immigration problems.

I hope the sight of these citizen volunteers patrolling the Arizona border will shine a big bright light on the failure of both the White House and Congress to get serious about enforcing our immigration laws. Those in Congress of both parties who continue to push for open borders should be ousted in the 2006 elections.

MARGARET MORTIMER

Warwick, Pa.

Big Brother’s snooping powers

The article “Alliance to fight Patriot Act” (Nation, March 23), perpetuates a common misunderstanding about secret searches and the Patriot Act. The government does have the power to secretly search Americans’ homes and offices and not ever inform them — but Section 213 of the Patriot Act did not give them that power.

Congress authorized such searches at the request of the Clinton administration in 1994, and the FBI has been conducting more of them every year since then. It does so under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows the FBI to enter homes and offices, copy everything in the computers and on the desk and never tell the homeowner the FBI was there.

In contrast, Section 213 of the Patriot Act does not authorize secret searches. It simply attempts — not very well — to standardize the practice in place before September 11, whereby the government can delay notifying someone of a search if it persuades a judge that there is some good reason for the delay.

Congress does need to address the problem of unconstitutional secret searches — by revisiting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, not the delayed-notice-searches section of the Patriot Act.

KATE MARTIN

Director

Center for National Security Studies

Washington

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