Congratulations on your excellent August issue. I especially liked the Adam Reed article on Three Mile Island and John McClaughry's book review of New Age Politics.
David R. Henderson
Department of Economics
University of Santa Clara
Santa Clara, CA
Adam Reed's article in the August issue was excellent. It combined the suspense of a detective story with a new perspective on the nuclear industry (new to those of us who are not experts).
San Diego, CA
Why is it that John Anderson has become the television media's choice for "independent" candidate, and Ed Clark, who is a true "independent," is relegated to polite obscurity (that is, ignored by the commentators)? If one looks at the backgrounds of the two non-major party candidates, the only obscure difference, aside from ideological, is that Mr. Anderson is or has been a member of Mr. David Rockefeller's subrosa organization, the Trilateral Commission. This is a fact which Mr. Anderson has tried to downplay. Since membership in that organization is by invitation only, it must be surmised that Mr. Rockefeller operates a charm school of inestimable success. How else could such a marginal candidate as Mr. Anderson, a man of few ideas, achieve such widespread media credibility and acceptance?
I don't wish to imply that the news networks are orchestrated by the Trilateral Commission; however, don't the facts suggest an investigative look-see into the formula for success? The results could be interesting and informative.
Raul R. Romandia
Don't Trust Antitrusters
Arthur Shenfield's "Antitrust: Free-Market Dilemma" (Sept.) is excellent, but Mr. Shenfield underestimates the enemy. After establishing that the antitrust laws are illogical and counterproductive, he lets the politicians and bureaucrats off the hook by assuming they enact and enforce those laws out of ignorance or stupidity. How could a top-level politician or bureaucrat have worked his way into a position of power if he was unintelligent? Make no mistake about it, our rulers are not dimwits. They know exactly what they are doing. They are not passing these laws to control monopolies, as Mr. Shenfield assumes. They are doing it to acquire power. Their antitrust arguments are just smoke—camouflage to mask their real intentions.
I'd like to see writers who expose the irrationality of government controls take their analyses just one step further by asking, If the controls are indeed counterproductive, then why do they still exist? I think the answer will be found in Thomas Jefferson's remark: "An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens." But a dishonest man…
I very much enjoy reading the different opinions in your magazine; it has sparked much thought on my part. While many topics are easily identified as either libertarian or not, there are some that seem to defy classification, for example, nuclear power, waste disposal, and off-road vehicles. It is this last subject that concerns me most at the moment. In the September issue there was an article by M.D. Isely. This article about ORVs makes some pretty amazing statements about the effects of this particular "sport." No one who lives near an area that has been blessed with these "sportsmen" can deny there have been drastic changes in the landscape since their arrival.
I can testify to this from first-hand experience; several years ago I enjoyed the quietness and aesthetic, ecological, and wildlife interest of a 600-acre tract of land behind my house. That was before the ORVs discovered it and quickly reduced it to a single-use area, whereas it used to support many uses simultaneously (i.e., hiking, horseback riding, bird hunting, fishing, and just plain sitting and looking off into the distance).
This seems to be the crux of the matter: does one person on a trail bike have the right to disrupt any number of other less noisy and destructive people? One may cloud the issue by dragging the BLM into it and saying, "Look here, the government is trying to ace me out of something again." This is irrational reasoning, for it implies that any action that the government may not like is correct on its face, ipso facto. If these dirt bike and dune buggy libertarians are truly allowed to use the desert, the wilderness, etc., as they see fit, we have in our midst the immediate seeds of our destruction as a whole; people who wish to live in freedom can support only so many who refuse to grow up, for that is what most of these people are: perennial juveniles who care nothing for other people's rights or the rights of our own mother earth.
J. Charles Williams
The editors reply: Off-road vehicle users have undoubtedly had different effects in different areas. Mr. Isely described his own first-hand experience and suggested that the proposal of the Bureau of Land Management to prevent any vehicle access to large parts of the desert wilderness is both unnecessary—because much of that area is not even suitable for ORVs—and discriminatory, preventing enjoyment and use the area by anyone without the means or the time to travel by horse or on foot. The point of "dragging the BLM into the issue" is to show the inherent difficulties of rational management of resources that everyone has a right to because everyone owns them. If Mr. Williams owned the 600-acre tract behind his house, the rights to its use would of course be much clearer. He could prevent the uses he finds objectionable and, because it would be his and not everyone's, would not have to attempt to balance the uses of all comers. Wouldn't a system of private property, where ORV users would have to own or "rent" the land on which they engaged in their sport, be the most effective way to confine such use to limited areas?
The Improbable Becomes Probable
In Neil Smith's The Probability Broach the hero comments that most people "would have taken to the hills, fought for centuries, if necessary, rather than surrender to tyranny." Furthermore, no one "has the authority to surrender." This sounded somewhat far-fetched to me until the Russians invaded Afghanistan.
Robert B. Peirce
While I find myself in almost total agreement with Charles Fried's article, "Ordering People Around" (Sept.), I do note that he reiterates a dogma which has gone unquestioned in most publications for a considerable length of time, the dogma being the fact that it takes a great deal of public money to educate a physician. The figures often quoted range from $18,000 to $20,000 per year. Certainly a cost like this is not borne by a student's tuition payments.
Having graduated from medical school in 1968, I recall that the first two years of my medical training had an overabundance of professors. For example, there were eight professors of physiology for 65 students in the class. Five of these were graduate students in physiology, and the entire course was oriented toward them. Each of the professors, while being paid a year's salary, participated only to a small degree in our education. Two professors teaching full-time would have been more than adequate to cover the subject. In the third and fourth years of medical school, the clinical years, most of the professors were busy with their private research of their private practice. I can recall two professors who had time to teach me as a medical student. We students spent over half our time doing "scut work" (essentially, running errands for our superiors). Graduate students and residents combined were in the main responsible for our teaching.
The costs that are often quoted are grossly inflated and exaggerated and reflect subsidies for graduate students, research, and other projects surrounding the medical school and do not in truth reflect the cost of educating a medical student. I, for one, certainly would have been happy to borrow the money to pay any additional tuition costs to have received a medical education worthy of the profession.
M.R. Grate, Jr., M.D.
Thesis Not Embraced
If you do not receive many letters critical of Edward Cline's perverse comments on Last Embrace (Aug.), it may be due to the limited exposure this film enjoyed outside the largest metropolitan markets. Let me dispel three of the alleged "incoherencies" upon which he hangs his overblown thesis concerning the decay of our culture: (1) The agent who attempts to kill Hannon-Scheider is the unbalanced brother of Scheider's late wife, who blames Scheider for her death; it is not a departmental assassin acting on official orders. (2) The fact that the Janet Margolin character shows up in his apartment could suggest that she is in league with his employers—after all, mystery creators are supposed to plant false leads—but is also entirely consistent with her private motives as they are ultimately revealed. (3) The bathtub murder is very obviously real, not a dream, and Scheider drives Margolin to the scene of the crime to confront her; she chooses death over the alternatives of prosecution or killing Scheider to complete her scheme of vengeance. Last Embrace is a "gem" of the mystery genre, and it is a shame it has not been more widely exhibited around the country. Mr. Cline's wrong-headed essay is better evidence of cultural decline than anything in the film.
David C. Amidon, Jr.
Director of Urban Studies
Mr. Cline replies: First, I am surprised that anyone even remembers Last Embrace; after a very short run at a few showcase theaters, it closed. This was about two years ago.
Second, Mr. Amidon's comments only lend credence to my thesis. His strenuous remarks are not dissimilar from those I overheard in the audience; there were as many patrons who were certain about particular facets of the story as there were those who were not. For this reason, I will not attempt to refute Mr. Amidon's points. I do not recall any of the characters being identified as anyone's unbalanced brother (unless someone mumbled something to this effect somewhere in the dialogue), nor can I say with certainty that Margolin was (or was not) dreaming erotic murder (it didn't help, from the standpoint of continuity, to show Margolin, in the very next scene following the "murder," opening her eyes, head on pillow, in her N.Y. apartment). I can't deny that what Mr. Amidon says is true; when one is being broadsided by stylistic chaos at the expense of clarity, one is likely to miss a few points, and when one is discussing such a mess as Last Embrace, such points as he raises become minutia not worth another breath of worry.
Finally, one should have thought that Last Embrace was indefensible as a work of art in any respect; what outraged me was the fact that the director paid far more attention to his plagiarisms than he did his plot. Curiously, Mr. Amidon has nothing to say on this matter.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Letters".