Sunday, May 6, 2007

A new religious test

Edd Doerr, in lamenting the Supreme Court’s recent decision banning partial-birth abortion (“Church, state and JFK,” Letters, Saturday), asserted that the justices who happen to be Catholic elevated their church’s teaching over sound legal reasoning and women’s “rights.” (Rosie O’Donnell made the same point, by the way, which speaks to the merits of the argument).

In any event, this accusation is interesting. Mr. Doerr seems to be suggesting that any court decision should first be compared with the religious background of the judge(s) and, if found to be compatible with any aspect thereof, immediately reversed, lest “religion” be perceived as being of any moment in the world of legal reasoning. And we can’t have that.

Had Mr. Doerr’s preference been in place during the last 50 years (heck, how about the last 200?) a slew of social changes would not have occurred: the modern civil-rights movement was pushed into the national conscience by Martin Luther King, a Christian minister, and courts have been in lockstep ever since the Voting Rights Act that minorities are equal to anyone else. But since virtually every mainline religious body recognizes the concept of equality before God, I guess we should reverse that whole idea and go back to “whites only” and “separate but equal.” At least that way it couldn’t be said that anyone’s church was dictating our social policy.

Mr. Doerr means well, I’m sure. But a society that would promote civil rights cannot separate itself from its religious underpinnings and remain civil for very long.



Trade deficit benefits

Economic growth requires market-driven investment, and investment requires savings. So the editorial “The GDP” (Editorial, Saturday) was right to argue that a fall in Americans’ savings rate threatens to reduce the U.S. economy’s growth rate.

But why do you often lament the U.S. trade deficit? The larger is this deficit, the greater are the amounts that foreigners invest in America. And the more that foreigners invest in America, the higher is the U.S. economy’s growth rate. Research and development in the United States funded with dollars from South Korea is just as productive as the same R&D would be were it funded with dollars from South Carolina.

If Americans truly are saving virtually nothing, we should be especially pleased that foreigners so willingly save and invest on our shores.



Department of Economics

George Mason University


The immigration debate

In response to the article, “Reid sets immigration bill debate” (Page 1, Saturday), Sen. Harry Reid may be overplaying his hand in demanding fast action on a guest-worker bill being crafted by the White House. A large segment of Democrats want a soft bill that would create a massive amnesty, while the Republican right is solid in its opposition to a fast track toward citizenship.

In any event, it appears that the House will have the final word and there is a growing optimism among the hardliners that they will be able to stop any legislation, determined to hold off until the next Congress, where they hope to regain the majority.


San Diego

Judicial mistemperament

The judge who is suing a dry-cleaning business over the loss of his pants needs to be watched very closely (“Judge sues cleaner for $65M over pants,” Web site, Friday). Apparently, he rejected several more-than-generous offers to replace the pants, but would rather destroy the business owners.

I understand that he is up for reappointment. I would question the temperament and wisdom of such a judge; would this “unusual attitude” find its way into his decision-making process? Given his actions, I would be quite hesitant about continuing this man’s career as a judge.


Abingdon, Md.

Mugabe and his crimes

The assaults of President Robert Mugabe against his opposition party and the Zimbabwean people deserve censure, not forgiveness (“Mugabe amnesty outrages exiles,” Page 1, Saturday). His persecution of political opponents and his Draconian attack on the economy have reduced a once-peaceful and prosperous country to abject poverty and despair.

Justice demands that Mr. Mugabe be given a fair trial for his purported crimes. If found guilty of breaking any laws, he should be punished accordingly. And, if found guilty, those with a generous heart may want to forgive him. Forgiveness is not a substitute for justice.


Senior fellow

Ethics and Public Policy Center


The importance of NIH

The editorial “Unhealthy cuts” (Editorial, Friday) strikes at a looming crisis — the prospect that the Bush administration’s proposed budget cuts for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) could cripple broad-based medical research initiatives, compromise promising studies and weaken our global leadership in health research. What is questionable is the editorial’s assertion that “a simple loss of public interest” is behind a loss of commitment in Washington to funding for NIH.

Americans recognize the importance of NIH and other agencies and how their funding fuels our medical and health research pipeline. An August 2006 poll commissioned by Research!America says that 55 percent of Americans would like to see funding increased for the NIH; 41 percent are happy with current (2006) funding.

People across the United States know that our future health and economic prosperity hinge upon continued increases in funding to the NIH. It is important for their voices to be heard and for Congress to renew and sustain their past commitment to this critical mission. Americans aren’t too busy to worry about this, but maybe Congress and the administration are.


President and CEO



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