In Defense of Bondage
The subtitle of "Broadcasters in Bondage" (September), Robert Corn's article assailing the fairness doctrine, was: "Free speech is a fundamental right? Not when it comes to TV and radio broadcasters, it isn't—and an odd coalition of liberals and conservatives wants to keep it that way."
The coalition may be odd, but it is also correct. Broadcasters surely have a constitutional right to say anything they want to, fair or unfair. The question is whether they have a right to do so while using my (and your) air. If they feel they are in bondage, they may release themselves easily by giving up their government licenses.
Ronald K. Mawson
Jefferson City, MO
Uncle Joe Not So Bad
I take exception to the claim of Alexander Jason ("Delivering the Goods to Hitler," August) that Stalin was a willing ally of Hitler. Stalin did what he had to do. He bought time and space because he realized the Soviet Union was not prepared to meet the German army alone. After all, England and the United States committed the first aggression against Russia when they invaded Siberia in 1918, in an effort to reverse the revolution.
Had the western nations, especially the United States, shown a more sympathetic attitude toward the Russian people, I believe the situation today would be much better than it is.
John E. Erb
Glenn Garvin's article on Pittsburgh jitneys ("Flouting the Law, Serving the Poor," June-July) was marred by the discussion of the economics of jitneys and taxicabs. Rather than showing lower costs through competition, the article seems to imply that for the most part jitneys are cheaper because the drivers violate the law—not having a chauffeur's license, avoiding income and Public Utility Commission taxes, and not buying special auto insurance (violating the insurance contract). The reader is left with the impression that if jitneys had to follow these laws they would cost as much as cabs, especially those readers who need convincing the most—public officials and other members of the "establishment."
Pickin' on Boone
Despite all the supposed authorities cited, your defense of unfriendly takeovers in the August issue ("Clear Thinking Overtaking Takeover Controversy") is rather lame.
Who can say that Phillips Petroleum and UNOCAL were badly managed or that their stockholders are now better off, post-Pickens, with companies in which "the hot blood of equity has been replaced by the cold water of debt," as UNOCAL's Fred Hartley so aptly put it.
Admittedly, some of the counter measures being proposed are extreme, but why doesn't REASON attack the real culprit, a tax system which is so biased in favor of debt and against equity that it leaves companies vulnerable to vultures like Pickens and Icahn?
Ronald J. Berkhimer
Walnut Creek, CA
This Land Ain't My Land
Many discussions on zoning such as your September Trends item "The Twilight for Zones?" focus on its impact on construction costs. This seems to miss the main point: zoning forces people to buy more housing than they need. Often, studies assume that without land-use restrictions the same types of housing would be built. These studies don't anticipate the many ways people would choose to economize on housing, given a chance to do so.
Also, while "change must come at the local level," it is my opinion that the municipal level is not the best place to fight zoning. Zoning's biggest victims are those would-be newcomers who get cheated out of a place to live. As outsiders, they are not in a position to conduct a political fight against that community's ordinances. So they must fight at levels where they are not outsiders: state and federal.
Jeff Riggenbach's review of Iacocca: An Autobiography (June-July) suggests Mr. Iacocca may want to run for president because he is engaged in the Statue of Liberty restoration. Riggenbach believes that is an indication that Mr. Iacocca wants to move beyond the auto business. Riggenbach guesses wrongly.
Mr. Iacocca was asked by President Reagan to head up the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. As the son of immigrants, Mr. Iacocca hastened to accept, for reasons spelled out in his book.
Riggenbach is suspicious of Mr. Iacocca's intentions because Mr. Iacocca is so outspoken on politics, especially issues that affect the auto industry. The chairmen of Ford and General Motors have strong opinions on political issues that affect our industry, too. I submit that Mr. Iacocca is more effective in communicating his opinions. That does not make him a presidential candidate.
Mr. Iacocca is not going to run for president. He has an excellent platform as chairman of a large industrial corporation. You will continue to hear from him, but not on the campaign trail. Many people admire Mr. Iacocca's straight talk. They should believe him when he says he is not going to run for public office.
Baron K. Bates
Vice President, Public Relations