- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 22, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The national ID hoax

The editorial “Real facts on REAL ID” (yesterday) fails to articulate how nationally standardized driver’s licenses and IDs would prevent future terror attacks.

Nobody was looking for Timothy McVeigh or for the Sept. 11 terrorists before their attacks. “Clean skin” terrorists — people without histories of terrorist activity — will defeat an identity-based security system like this every time.

This is why state legislatures across the country have rejected REAL ID’s multibillion-dollar unfunded mandate. This is why privacy advocates and security experts are right to lament collecting scanned copies of law-abiding citizens’ basic identity documents into government databases.

Though a lobbyist for this national ID system believes the use of data on would remain “narrowly defined,” this is a promise as hollow as the notation on old Social Security cards: “For Social Security Purposes — Not for Identification.”

JIM HARPER

Director

Information Policy Studies

Cato Institute

Washington

School choice

It appears as if Edd Doerr has been selling his compulsory-state-schooling snake oil for so many years that he can’t bring himself to admit that the U.S. Supreme Court has found no constitutional bar to aiding parents who choose religious schools for their children (“Separate church and state,” Letters, Friday). As a resident of Maryland, he should reflect on his state’s marvelous history of religious liberty before he argues that parents of faith have no right to select the type of schooling they have to pay for. Parents who like the job the public schools are doing should be free to send their children there. Parents who do not should be free to take their education dollars elsewhere. It’s known as the marketplace, Mr. Doerr.

ALEX BROWN

Springfield

Taxing commentary

I was puzzled and bothered by the way Steve Chapman’s column “Bad energy ideas” (Commentary, Sunday) lumped Sen. John McCain’s energy policy in with those of Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton. If it were true that changing gas taxes (or any other form of excise value-added or use taxes) had no real effect on consumption because “prices are now at the level required to balance supply and demand,” sales or VAT tax increases similarly would have no effect on consumption and would only transfer wealth from sellers to the government.

Of course, this is not true. In a competitive market, sellers will raise or lower their prices to an optimum level, taking into account their costs. When a cost is uniformly lowered on all suppliers (whether it be a reduction in the price of raw materials or a mandated tax or fee) there is just as much reason to believe prices will go down as there is to believe they will go up with a tax increase.

The Washington Times has properly noted and editorialized against the latter on many occasions. Mr. Chapman has not based his argument on any special elasticity or other quality of gas but rather on the general effect of a tax decrease. He is wrong, and your readers ought to know this.

ALBERT HALPRIN

McLean

High papal regard

I commend Pope Benedict XVI for his profoundly moving address to the United Nations, which emphasized the need for universal human rights based on natural law as a condition and foundation for world peace (“Pope praises U.N. human rights goals,” Page 1, Saturday).

The West in particular has largely accepted a public or social morality that emphasizes terms such as progress, freedom, liberty, equality, justice and peace. However, these concepts are vague and largely confined to party politics, where they are open to all kinds of abuse.

Moral consciousness is, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, “purely a species of functional rationality. In such a world where calculations are the norm, it is the calculation of consequences that ultimately determines what is moral and immoral.” Nothing is good or evil in itself. There are no absolute values.

When human interests and values are based on reason alone, apart from the truth that transcends them, the individual and his human rights, dignity, worth and capacity for self-realization are at the mercy of caprice. Religion, on the other hand “favors conversion of heart,” which provides the proper context for commitment, dialogue, authentic human rights and ultimately peace.

Religious freedom, therefore, must be considered a fundamental right that precedes the state and cannot be severely curtailed or denied by it. Put more broadly, and as Pope John Paul II put it, religious freedom is the “first freedom.” It is “the premise and guarantee of all freedoms that ensure the common good.”

PAUL KOKOSKI

Hamilton, Ontario

Serving up backstabbers

Rick Amato’s article (“Miscarriages of justice,” Web-only Op-Ed, Thursday) regarding our imprisoned servicemen was quite an eye opener. I haven’t seen those details or revelations in any other publication.

It is not enough to be terrified when one’s son goes off to war, but now, as the mother of a young son on the front lines in Afghanistan, I have to worry about him languishing in the brig for doing his job well.

Like many of our children fresh from their high school graduations, my son could have chosen to stand in a drive-thru booth asking customers if they want to “supersize your order.”

Instead, with supersize courage, he chose to serve his country as a Marine in battle. It is truly frightening to think after all the expensive training he has received to become a lean, mean fighting machine, he could spend his life in prison.

He knows the danger of collateral damage and the value of innocent human life. He understands that the cowardly Islamic terrorists sometimes literallyhide behind the skirts of their women and children. He knows how to protect himself and his buddies using learned self-defense tactics — i.e., kill the enemy before it kills you.

My first thought is that political correctness has run amok. This is not a peacenik-sponsored video game in which one gets bonus points for missing the innocent child with the sad brown eyes; the terrorist has compromised this child, not the serviceman.

This is real life, and I would much rather my son preserve his own life and that of his mates anywhere, anytime.

Call me cruel, but after all, war is killing people and destroying surroundings for the greater good. It’s not “please ma’am, can you move a bit to the left for just a second?” Resume shooting.

Thanks to Mr. Amato for exposing these shameful scenarios.

LAURIE ASHER

San Diego


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