Backtalk

March/April 2010 Issue

Economies of Fail

Your articles all point to the elephant in the room: Economic theory has no room for moral considerations. "There is one and only one social responsibility of business—to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits"—Milton Friedman. Given the theory, what do you expect in practice?
KENNETH S. FRIEDMAN
Black Hawk, Colorado

As a retired teacher (40 years), I felt sick when I read David Corn's "Thank You, Sir. May We Have Another?" Our citizens can't see what is truly wrong or where to place the blame because of an educational system that teaches how to score highly on a standardized test without knowing what is causing people to lose their homes and their jobs.
ASHLEY JONES
Alameda, California

Nomi Prins' "The Real Size of the Bailout" is extremely misleading. It implies that $14.4 trillion was "spent" by the Treasury and Federal Reserve on various bailout elements. When the Treasury and Fed agreed to temporarily guarantee money market mutual funds' stable value, they "spent" nothing. Many so-called bailout outlays by the government were not "spending" but lending. You have only "spent" money when you part with it permanently in a one-way transaction. Playing fast and loose with terms like "spent" and "paid" contributes to distorting and poorly reporting what has happened.
TOM MANNING
Pendleton, South Carolina

Doing God's work?! Must we remind [Goldman Sachs CEO] Lloyd Blankfein that all Christian, Jewish, and Islamic fundamentalists are "doing God's work"? Doing God's work has positioned this nation, and this planet, with one foot in hell and the other on a banana peel.
L.P. ENGRISSEI
Vashon Island, Washington

Stop Horsing Around

While eating his "fist-thick" steak with a Bureau of Land Management employee, Michael Behar failed to realize he was being fed a line of bull ("The Mustang Redemption"). He concluded that wild horses are destroying their rangelands while reproducing faster than "rabbits fed Viagra." This decades-old propaganda has allowed the BLM to wipe out our wild horse herds while continuing to permit grazing on western rangelands by millions of head of cattle. The wild horse "controversy" has nothing to do with science and everything to do with politics and greed.
GINGER KATHRENS
Executive director
The Cloud Foundation

Fictional Profits

Ted Genoways blaming writers for the demise of literary fiction ("The Final Chapter") is like blaming journalists for the collapse of journalism—both have very little to do with the real cause, money. The root of publishing's problems—whether it is a big, private conglomerate or a small university publication—is the demand that art be a moneymaking enterprise.
CHRISTOPHER WUNDERLEE
Seattle, Washington

Lipstick on a Policy

"Grand Old Party" illustrates the schism within the GOP and the myopia of the party's leadership. In 2008, the only candidate who energized youth, Ron Paul, was ridiculed and shunned by the establishment. Many libertarians like myself have given up any hope for a third-party candidate, so we're left trying to influence one party or the other. Until the GOP mainstream realizes that a neocon foreign policy and the disastrous war on drugs are both parts of big intrusive government, youth will see right through the hypocrisy.
ROBERT ECKERSON
Lincoln, Nebraska

Gone With the Wind

Renewable energy generation is more expensive to build than fossil fuel plants, and since the late 1990s renewable energy certificates sold to homes and businesses have provided a welcome stream of income to green-power developers that nudges them into profitability. With RECs, it doesn't really matter that the wind farm ("Tilting at Windmills") isn't in your backyard (you might not live on a ridgetop); developers can build where the resources are and have a national market.
JEFF SWENERTON
Communications director
Center for Resource Solutions

Spare Change

I'm sorry that I'm only managing to donate $5. My husband and I work for Ford—we build the Mustang. We just returned from a layoff to readjust inventory. In two weeks we'll be laid off again. I wish Americans would buy American. We're damn good workers and our sweat and lives go into every vehicle. I LOVE your articles. I love that I can hear a truth. I owe you something, even if it's only $5.
PATRICIA WELCH
Temperance, Michigan