Charles Murray Bears No Blame

I enjoyed the interview with Manhattan Institute Senior Research Fellow Charles Murray (May 1985), but your interviewer was wrong when he stated that Murray "had been an architect of the Great Society programs of President Lyndon Johnson" in 1965. Murray spent approximately half of 1965 at Harvard, receiving his undergraduate degree in history in June of that year. He joined the Peace Corps after graduation and spent the rest of the year in Thailand as a volunteer in the Thailand Village Health and Sanitation Program. There was about a week between the time he graduated from college and volunteered for the Peace Corps, not enough time for even Charles Murray to have much of an influence on the Washington politics of the day.

William M.H. Hammett
Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
New York, NY

The editors reply: Thanks to Bill Hammett for correcting a mistake that we should have caught in editing the transcript of the taped interview with Charles Murray. And our apologies, as well, while we're setting the record straight, for failing to mention in connection with the interview the important role of the Manhattan Institute in the publication of Murray's book, Losing Ground. The institute not only made it possible for the author to spend a year researching and writing the book but put forth great effort to see that the pathbreaking book got into the hands of policymakers and opinion leaders.

Common Sense Isn't So Common

In "Nuclear Winter: How Much Do We Really Know?" (May), Howard Maccabee stresses the fact that common sense would be used in the distribution of atomic-weapon bursts, which would prevent the hypothesized nuclear winter. If he knows of one example of commonsense usage during the past few wars, I'd like to know about it. The event slipped by me, while my back was turned. And to show one example from the years between wars by our government would be even harder.

He even cites the fact that several government agencies have commissioned studies to address the uncertainties of the assumption that catastrophic cooling would occur. The people who would be engaged in the inquiry would be bureaucrats—and could anything intelligent ever come of their collective deliberations?…

Roy Earl Duke
Oak Harbor, WA

Let Us Keep What Is Ours

Robert Poole's comments about Social Security reform ("We Must Touch the Untouchable," May) are sound. But his figures are too low. Anyone paying the maximum amount would have paid more than the total $12,828 he mentions just in the 13 years from 1970 to 1982. Going back farther, the maximum amounts were smaller but still would have added a few thousand. More important, Poole ignores the employer's contribution, an equivalent amount that the employer could have paid directly to the employee in the form of increased salary, since this is part of the employer's payroll cost for that individual anyway. Add to that the yield on these sums over the years and you have an amount well in excess of $30,000.

Of course, the real tragedy for many of us is what we could have done with that money, rightfully ours, if we had had it in our control all those years and been able to invest it ourselves. Some of us would have built it into a comfortable amount that could yield us more than Social Security, would not be subject to the whims of the clowns in Congress, and which we could pass on to our heirs. The denial of control over what is rightfully ours is the worst crime in this scam of the century.

Grace Schuettner
Clayton, MO

More Amtrak Con

Amtrak is willing to use whatever tricks might work in order to avoid having to give up taxpayer subsidies of passenger train service. But John Semmens's article ("Don't Let Amtrak Con You," May) left out one of their boldest advertising ploys: a poster, showing a photo of a bird—I think it's a seagull, the Amtrak reservations clerk I asked about it thinks it's a swan—with the caption, "Not everyone was meant to fly."

Lou Villadsen
Santa Barbara, CA

Free-Market Medicine Or Fascist Snake Oil?

Although I agree with most of what you said in your April Trends column "Heresy in the Temple of Organized Medicine," I believe you should look into the People's Medical Society more carefully before you promote it. The name should be a tip-off. While the group does have some worthy ideas, which you quoted, it also sees the crisis in malpractice insurance as a welcome entry to socialized medicine (or perhaps I should say fascist medicine, since it would be government controlled though nominal private ownership might be maintained). I think they also confuse antitechnology thinking with free-market philosophy.

There is a small group of organized medicine representing private practice called the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), which has been in existence for over 40 years. We have a committee of correspondence that studies delicensure. We also have an activist legal service, which is defending the liberty of contract, specifically with regard to the Deficit Reduction Act of 1984 as it amends Medicare. We would agree with you, however, that "organized medicine," namely the AMA, the American College of Physicians, and other prestigious groups, do support ideas inimical to freedom.

Jane M. Orient, M.D.
Tucson, AZ