Letters to the Editor - Aug. 10

August 10, 2011

Several solutions exist for debt crisis

To the editor:

There are several solutions available to help solve the debt crisis. One of the foremost among these is putting reasonable tariffs on imports.

The economist Ian Fletcher, author of “Free Trade Doesn’t Work,” has identified eight fatal flaws with free trade. Free trade is not sustainable, nor do financial resources respect international boundaries. Tariff-free trade creates income disparity, and technology is not easily transferred between industries to compensate for lost markets.

Leslie Gelb, former president of the Council on Foreign Relations, in his book “Power Rules” laments the failure of the State Department to understand the function and the importance of economics in international affairs. At one time in our history, tariffs were the major source of revenue. The 200 or so billion dollars per year a reasonable universal tariff would generate is minuscule compared to the positive impact on American industry and technology.

The international playing field is not level. Germany uses a refundable value-added tax to act as de facto tariff; Japan limits imports through excessive regulations; and China has cheap labor and an undervalued currency — all of which adds up to a transfer of technology and wealth overseas.

According to international banking authority and author John Wolfe in “Crisis by Design,” the Federal Reserve in 1988 made a deal with the Bank for International Settlements to disrupt Japanese industrial growth, thereby limiting Japanese exports. The Basel I accord created weighted bank reserve ratios that favored home mortgages over commercial loans. The result was devastating to the Japanese economy and is one of the underlying causes of the current crises in the U.S. mortgage market and the economic downturn. A tariff would have served the same purpose without the negative side effects.

The Economic Policy Institute has estimated NAFTA alone has cost 766,000 high-paying jobs. Computer models by economists Ralph Gomory and William Baumol have rewritten international economic theory and show the fallacy of America’s free-trade policy. Politicians need to take a serious look at the benefits of revising tariff policy and put an end to trade appeasement.

Jim Hassinger

Kudos to former publisher for years of dedication

To the editor:

On July 24, Tim Rowland paid tribute to the career of now-retired publisher John League. I’d like to add to the list of overdue kudos for League.

I routinely read a wide variety of local daily and weekly newspapers from around Maryland. Each paper has its individual strengths and eccentricities, but The Herald-Mail under League always seemed to be unlike any other newspaper, with regular features not found elsewhere.

The local town columnists give a flavorful picture of good things happening all over Washington County. What other local newspaper gives an insightful monthly report on the local economy — house and auto sales, etc.? What other local newspaper gives regular reports on the food inspection results for local eateries?  

Mail Call is frequently goofy and unenlightened, and allows some people to display pure ignorance, but it is an unvarnished, humorous and fascinating look at local issues and personalities.

And while some other papers now also run “What’s wrong with this picture?” types of stories to highlight persistent problems that defy easy solution, it was The Herald-Mail that brought this to Maryland newspapers.

I could go on and on about other unique aspects of The Herald-Mail under League, but the point is the newspaper has always displayed a willingness to flex, adjust and innovate; to listen to reader suggestions; and to find solutions to newspaper industry economic challenges.

When there were problems or glitches in subscriber services, or when I felt the need to complain about an editorial policy, I could write to League, and while he would never write me that he’d solved the issue or concern, invariably I would see evidence the problem was addressed and solved.

I say with genuine admiration that League’s love for this newspaper was clearly evident in every issue I’ve seen over the two decades I’ve subscribed.

Douglas Scott Arey
Jessup Correctional Institution, No. 130196 EA-111

FAA issue took back seat to debt, deficit problems

To the editor:

Tim Rowland suggests that those who wanted to cut the subsidies to Hagerstown and 12 other “rural” airports should be blamed for the FAA partial shutdown and the “$200 million loss.” (I have no idea where this figure came from. Or who lost the money.)

There is another view of this. Those who wanted to keep the subsidies were willing for the FAA to partially shut down and the U.S. Treasury or someone else take a $200 million loss.  They could have agreed to the cuts early, and that would have averted the shutdown and prevented the loss to somoene. But that would have meant cutting or killing their sacred cow.

Note that the Treasury receipts do not go into the general fund but were dedicated. Since they weren’t collected, they weren’t spent. So who lost? And if someone lost, then someone else gained. Who? I lean toward the second explaination.

But here is a third factor. The FAA shutdown was not top priority. So the FAA issue got the back seat, if it was even riding, considering the attention given to raising the debt ceiling and starting to reduce the deficit. As soon as that was out of the way, the issue got attention and the FAA got back into buisness. And if you think the cutters “won,” guess again. The decision now goes to the Secretary of Transportation, which means that the local airports will make their pitches for the continued subsidies and no one will offer a rebuttal.

That’s a win in name only; not a real “win.” It’s lipstick on a pig.

H.E. Erbes
Hedgesville, W.Va.

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