Correcting the Record

Editor, USA Today Dear Editor: Your editorial headlined “ Our view on Black Friday: Is your cashier cranky? Big Brother may be watching” (Nov. 28) caused me to think that government is using private retailers to snoop on citizens. But no: you're referring simply to the fact that private retailers gather information electronically about how quickly their cashiers serve customers. I have no idea whether such monitoring is a good or bad business practice. More to the point, despite your self-confident pronouncement to the contrary, nor do you. A great beauty of economic competition is that it DISCOVERS what consumers... continue reading
Editor, The New York Times 229 West 43rd St . New York , NY 10036 To the Editor: Bob Herbert wants President Obama to "begin addressing on day one the interests of those who are not rich and who have not had the ear of those in power" ( "A Team of Whizzes," Dec. 2). Sounds reasonable – but it's not. In a free society prosperity is achieved by persons who take initiative for themselves – persons who do not sit around, brandishing excuses, waiting for their needs to be "addressed" by Great Leaders. Insofar as any person's needs become... continue reading
Editor, The New York Times Book Review 229 West 43rd St . New York , NY 10036 To the Editor: Reviewing Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, David Leonhardt favorably quotes the author: "We look at the young Bill Gates and marvel that our world allowed that 13-year-old to become a fabulously successful entrepreneur ... But that's the wrong lesson. Our world only allowed one 13-year-old unlimited access to a time-sharing terminal in 1968. If a million teenagers had been given the same opportunity, how many more Microsofts would we have today?" (" Chance and Circumstance," Nov. 30). True. But Gladwell misses the... continue reading
Editor, The Wall Street Journal 200 Liberty Street New York , NY 10281 To the Editor: Arthur Bowring is correct that pirates raise costs to consumers (" The Price of Piracy," November 25). Having to confront predators possessing the brute force to seize their cargoes and persons, merchants naturally cut back on their commercial activities and demand premium payments for whatever services they continue to perform. But it's no stretch to arrrggggue that pirates share much in common with the stationary bandits we call "governments." Governments, too, routinely threaten to seize persons' assets and persons if those persons don't pay... continue reading
Editor, The Boston Globe Dear Editor: Dan Wasserman's cartoon today depicts countless gloomy Santa Clauses queued up before a "Unemployment Benefits" office. 2008 will indeed be a sad year for shopping-mall Santas, but other Santas are quite jolly. I speak of politicians. Like shopping-mall Santas, their job is to entertain requests from strangers for goodies. These strangers (like those on the laps of shopping-mall Santas) give no thought to who pays for the requested goodies - so their requests are childish and ample. Politician Santas are naively taken at their word that they can create wondrous things for all good... continue reading
Editor, The New York Times 229 West 43rd St . New York , NY 10036 To the Editor: Carole Artigiani asserts that "The wide involvement of youths in the Obama campaign suggests a renewed understanding of the role of government in addressing the needs of citizens" (Letters, Nov. 20). I wonder. Just this morning WTOP News radio in Washington reported the results of a new survey by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute that found, among other distressing facts, that 36 percent of America 's college graduates cannot name the three branches of government, and that one in five cannot name a... continue reading
Editor, The Wall Street Journal 200 Liberty Street New York , NY 10281 To the Editor: G.M. CEO Rick Wagoner's case for a taxpayer handout to his firm is a lemon (" Why GM Deserves Support," Nov. 19). The bulk of it is annual-report-style bragging about G.M.'s wondrous innovations at lowering costs and improving product quality – all of which, if true, makes one wonder why his firm so desperately needs a handout from taxpayers. And the rest of it is either irrelevant – many of the firms that will pony up more taxes to pay for the bailout also... continue reading
Editor, Washington Post 1150 15th St., NW Washington , DC 20071 Dear Editor: Martin Feldstein and George Will each offer excellent reasons for opposing a bailout of Detroit automakers (Opinion, Nov. 18). Here's another: resources given by government to these corporations must be taken from somewhere else. Government cannot conjure billions of dollars of resources out of thin air. The number of different places from which these resources will be taken is large and spans a continent. So it's easy to overlook the fact that each of many productive firms from across the country will, as a result of this... continue reading
Editor, The Wall Street Journal 200 Liberty Street New York , NY 10281 To the Editor: Douglas Ayer correctly notes that "Populist anti-intellectualism has always played a part in conservative politics" ( Letters, Nov. 15). But contrary to the left's self-congratulatory myth, anti-intellectualism has always played a part also in so-called "liberal" politics. What reflects thought more shallow than leftist notions such as making poor people richer by giving them money taken from richer people? Or making workers better off simply by declaring low wages illegal? Or the fantasy that politics can be cleansed of special interests? The only difference... continue reading
Editor, Washington Post 1150 15th St., NW Washington , DC 20071 Dear Editor: Countless flaws infect the arguments – offered in your pages today by both Jeffrey Sachs and Robert Samuelson – for a government bailout of GM, Ford, and Chrysler. Not least among these flaws is the common presumption that these firms are too big to be allowed to fail. These firms certainly are big, meaning that they use unusually large amounts of productive resources. If they have reasonable potential to put these resources to good use in the future, Chapter 11 bankruptcy will likely uncover this fact and... continue reading