- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Race and an ‘odious’ bill in Hawaii

I read with interest Ralph Z. Hallow’s article about the Akaka bill, which is scheduled to be debated by August (“Akaka bill seeks ethnic-Hawaiian government” Nation, Monday). This legislation is very important to Americans of all races and racial blends because it seeks to take advantage of racial preference. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka’s sleight of hand is evident in his statement, “All my bill does is clarify the political and legal relationship between native Hawaiians and the United States, thereby establishing parity in the federal policies towards American Indians, Alaska natives and native Hawaiians.” The truth is that various Indian tribes have a special political status with the United States as a result of their being nations, not races.

The governments of Hawaii, ancient and modern, have never had a racial basis — period. Supporters of the Akaka bill seek to establish a racially based nation, not to “restore” one. At this point in our cultural evolution, it is hard to believe we are considering race as a basis for anything.

This is an especially odious way to preserve the flow of federal funds to special-interest constituents.

BILL JARDINE

Kamuela, Hawaii

Gun rights in Washington

While reading your article “Bill seeks to let residents keep guns for safety” (Metropolitan, May 20), I came across some quotes from D.C. officials that left me puzzled.

In response to a proposed bill that would allow D.C. residents to own handguns, Mayor Anthony A. Williams said, “I am incensed by any proposal that is an insult to the memory of the people who have died in this city due to gun violence — in particular the three children who have died from gun violence this year.”

In the same article, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said, “They’re trying to see to it that more children get killed.”

The District has some of the strictest gun-ownership laws in the country. The three children who have died from gun violence this year obviously weren’t protected by the existing laws. This bill seeks to give citizens the right to protect themselves in their own homes. By making personal protection a crime, the District’s leaders have made the city a safe haven for the people their laws sought to disarm.

CARSON EVANS

Alexandria

A concession to Islamists

The decision of an Italian judge to indict author and New York resident Oriana Fallaci for being “offensive toward Islam” and to those who practice that religious faith is a violation of her right to free speech and an absurd concession to Islamists at war with Western civilization (“Fallaci trial tied to ‘insulting’ Islam,” World, May 25).

Miss Fallaci, like any individual, should have the right to criticize any religion or ideology, free from government censorship or retaliation. If Muslims (or Italian judges) don’t like Miss Fallaci’s books, they are free not to buy them. They have no right, however, to punish or silence her.

DAVID HOLCBERG

Ayn Rand Institute

Irvine, Calif.

Social Security woes, tradeoffs

Peter Ferrara’s Friday Commentary column, “Personal accounts preferred,” quotes my statements out of context.

I confirmed at a recent conference that shifting from wage to price indexing would eventually make traditional Social Security benefits insignificant as a share of pre-retirement earnings. However, Mr. Ferrara does not clarify that full benefits, including those from personal accounts, would not become insignificant.

Social Security’s Office of the Chief Actuary has projected that under progressive price indexing, the replacement rate of full benefits for one- and two-earner couples with medium earnings would exceed about 80 percent of scheduled benefits under present law through 2075.

Another neglected detail in Mr. Ferrara’s piece is that price indexing of traditional benefits could be terminated after Social Security becomes self-sustaining. Under Robert Pozen’s proposal, that would be expected to occur by 2072. If progressive price indexing is designed to be transitory, benefit growth would revert to matching wage growth for all earner groups after 2072.

Finally, though Mr. Ferrara contends that Social Security’s financial problem could be resolved solely through personal accounts without any changes to promised benefits or taxes, his own proposal includes unspecified back-door cuts — not to Social Security benefits, but in terms of caps on discretionary spending growth.

However, if I receive my future Social Security checks as under present law but must spend more to maintain my family vehicle because the government cannot resurface the highways in my neighborhood, or if my family must suffer domestic terrorist attacks because the feds cannot keep terrorists out of the country, how could I be just as well off, as promised?

JAGADEESH GOKHALE

Senior fellow

Cato Institute

Washington

Traffic cameras: a D.C. cash cow

As The Washington Times knows, much of the motivation for the automated red-light and speed camera systems in the District is to increase revenue (“Traffic-camera craze won’t eliminate all threats,” Metropolitan, Thursday).

If most posted speed limits were set with known scientific tools at the levels that promote the minimum number of accidents, cameras would not produce many tickets.

If the lights were timed for the actual speed of approaching traffic and if a few other simple engineering items were corrected, red-light and speed cameras would not produce many tickets.

The District’s camera programs only work by deliberately misengineering the posted limits and traffic lights to make the whole traffic pattern more dangerous. The District deliberately facilitates a higher-than-needed accident rate to produce more ticket revenue.

JAMES C. WALKER

JCW Consulting

National Motorists Association

Ann Arbor, Mich.

Unfair media coverage for David Rosen

When David Rosen was charged with two counts of making false statements to the Federal Election Commission about the cost of the star-studded gala for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Senate campaign, there was an immediate rush by the Republican Party and their compliant media to link Mr. Rosen’s wrongdoing to Mrs. Clinton, resulting in front-page “news” and conjecture (“Hillary ex-aide acquitted of lying,” Nation, Saturday).

Now that a jury has acquitted Mrs. Clinton’s former campaign manager of all wrongdoing, will this news attract the same amount of media attention as the accusations, or will it be buried in the back of the paper? If the latter, the public will gain a clear understanding of media commitment to the truth, as opposed to distribution of Republican propaganda and manipulation of public opinion.

OLGA BASAYEV

Hermosa Beach, Calif.

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