- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Testing elderly drivers

I recall that back in the early 1970s, when I was growing up in the Netherlands, a test for elderly drivers was introduced for citizens over the age of 72. My father, who had been an excellent driver for more than 40 years, at first balked at the idea but then changed his mind when he realized that such a test is in the best interest of everyone who uses the road on a daily basis (“Elderly drivers cry foul in D.C.,” Page 1, Monday). The statistics after the test was in place clearly showed a reduction in serious accidents in the Netherlands, which today has the lowest road fatality rate of any country in the world.

We should not leave it to the grown children to decide when the keys are going to be taken away from Mom and Dad.

Let’s leave this to the trained professionals so all of us can be assured of safer roads. Easing the renewal policy is not going to be in anyone’s interest.

I sincerely hope Maryland and Virginia will follow and install a similar road test for older drivers.



Cut military spending

In 2003, I moved from Washington to New Hampshire to enjoy smaller government. I am happy to say that the government here is less intrusive, but I am sad to see that national Republicans such as Rudolph W. Giuliani are still not committed to reducing the size of government (“Giuliani vows to cut a fifth of civilian federal workers,” Nation, Tuesday).

After declaring the need for an “across-the-board spending decrease” for the federal government, Mr. Giuliani effectively recanted by advocating an even larger increase in military spending.

Needlessgovernment spending, whether in the form of domestic pork-barrel projects or $500 billion wars in the Middle East, burdens American taxpayers and the economy as a whole. Real conservatives should shun big-government candidates like Mr. Giuliani.

One Republican running for president, Ron Paul, consistently stands for small-government conservative values, and only his candidacy can redirect the Republican Party from its spendthrift ways.


Wentworth, N.H.

All violent crime is hate crime

The House has voted to add “sexual orientation” to the list of criteria that can be used to label a violent crime as a “hate crime” (“House moves to add gays to federal hate crime laws,” Nation, Friday). You’d think a body that was so bent on getting out of Iraq would find better ways to spend its time.

Every violent crime is a hate crime, and every violent crime should be prosecuted on the basis of the action it entails and the outcome (Did someone die? Was someone injured?) not on the basis of its motivation. To single out a few categories of individuals because of their race, ethnicity, sexual preference or gender is to grant them a higher level of protection than anyone else, and in a society based on equality, that is manifestly unfair.

Also, since when is it up to Congress to legislate on violent crime? That surely is the responsibility of the states, not the federal government. Where is the Supreme Court when we need it?



Misconceptions about ‘immigrants’

M.L. Pinkard’s May 3 letter “Another Trojan horse” claims that expanding the guest-worker program to include more immigrants would increase crime and contribute to the “decimation of the very core of our culture.”

Mr. Pinkard’s claims represent a common misconception about immigrants that prevents immigration reform that could benefit both immigrants and Americans. A study released earlier this year by the Immigration Policy Center found that immigrant men ages 18 to 39 had incarceration rates five times lower than those of natives. The authors of the report even stated that “the problem of crime in the United States is not ‘caused’ or even aggravated by immigrants.”

Perpetuating the myth that immigrants are a detriment to society prevents hardworking immigrants from coming to America to improve their lives and prevents all Americans from enjoying the benefits these immigrants bring to our communities.


Pleasant Grove, Ala.

Employee ‘choice’ in perspective

In his column “Card-check vs. secret ballots” (Commentary, Saturday), James Sherk is following a by now familiar line of attack on the Employee Free Choice Act: Talk about the secret ballot as “a fundamental American right” and tiptoe past the substantive issues. Far down in his discourse, however, Mr. Sherk slips up. He remarks in passing that the representation election gives employees the opportunity of “hearing the other side.”

Now that’s worth thinking about. Should employers have a voice when their employees are organizing? Seems fair enough until you consider that Mr. Sherk’s employer, the Heritage Foundation, never afforded liberals a chance to argue that forming the Heritage Foundation wasn’t such a hot idea. Nor have I ever heard of employees arguing the pros and cons with their employers about joining the assorted business groups lining up against the Employee Free Choice Act. Sounds silly even to say it. Why isn’t it silly when applied to labor unions?

So, for his next column, Mr. Sherk should explain to us why labor unions should be treated any differently than any other voluntary association in the exercise of the full freedom of association that is the glory of this country.

That’s for starters. Other questions — big questions — are raised by the proposed changes in the way unions were established under our labor law. To suggest that the only issue worth discussing is the sanctity of the secret-ballot election is to insult the intelligence of your readers. Even people who don’t like unions deserve better than that.


Professor emeritus of history

University of California at Davis

Kensington, Calif.

Not a religious test

Jack Webb (“A new religious test,” Letters, Monday) completely misunderstands Edd Doerr’s Saturday letter, “Church, state and JFK.” Mr. Doerr in no way suggested an unconstitutional religious test for public office, only that the five justices in the majority in Gonzales v. Carhart improperly wrote their religious doctrine into law, thus overturning precedent, elevating their judgment over that of physicians and ignoring the health and rights of women.

I’m sure Mr. Doerr has no problem with Martin Luther King, as he was not pushing his religious views on anyone, only promoting civil rights for all. Then, too, the late Justice William Brennan, a devout Catholic, was one of the architects of Roe v. Wade, and, like John F. Kennedy, was a great champion of our constitutional separation of government and religion. Most Catholic Democrats in Congress respect Roe and freedom of choice.



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