No Party for the Republicans

Robert W. Poole, Jr. ("Winning One for the GOP, Editorial, Dec.) had some interesting ideas for eliminating the deficit, but they all share the common fault of requiring sacrifice and congressional action, so they just won't happen.

I propose, instead, that the president direct the Treasury to call in all federal debts and pay them off at their present worth, with money printed as fast as the presses will run.

This will immediately eliminate the interest charges as a burden, while correcting the value of the dollar to reflect the charges against it. We could then either switch to the gold standard or just let the buck drift. Who would care?

While this might be seen as diluting the estates of those who are holding dollars, does not the shadow of debt overhanging us do the same?

Once we are debt-free, perhaps we might even stay that way, but if we cannot rid ourselves of the habit of living beyond our means, then just print the money for our extravagances and drop this fiction that we ever had any intention of paying off our debt. Since inflation is the one tax that hits everyone, who could argue with the fairness of this plan?

Walter E. Wallis
Palo Alto, CA

In answer to Robert W. Poole's semi-rhetorical question, "Will the GOP get the message?" I say—when donkeys fly!

The Republican Party has consistently advocated spending cuts out of one side of its mouth and out of the other side spouted actual spending increases. With the federal deficit and recession or worse in the offing, "revenue enhancement" has easily found a home in both major political camps, so what's the use in counting on the GOP to steer away from what most political observers are trying to convince us is inevitable?

As for the GOP ditching the agenda of the religious right, I say—when elephants fly! Remember, Dumbo was only a storybook fantasy. I wish I could say the same for Pat Robertson and friends, but unfortunately, they're no dumbos by any stretch of the imagination.

Sally Anne Moore
Cincinnati, OH

Crusade in the Shade

Virginia I. Postrel's "Quiet Crusade" (Dec.) reinforces my impression that freedom of religion is an endangered constitutional promise. (It's ironic that the first freedom enumerated by the Bill of Rights is the most neglected by today's judges and legal experts.)

Her article also confirms the observation that many self-labeled "civil libertarians" are highly selective of which liberties they want enforced and for whom. The ACLU in particular seems to be engaged in a holy war against organized religion, seeking to bar religious expression from public institutions, parks, monuments, etc. The zeal to "separate church from state" is not unlike the hypocrisy of the old "separate but equal" doctrine: Permitting religious expression only in areas of community life not controlled (or funded) by an omnipresent government is nearly equivalent to censoring religion as an idea. It's easier for drug dealers to operate a rock house and openly peddle their wares than for decent citizens to open a church and worship their God.

Douglas R. King
Yorba Linda, CA

Road from Serfdom

Clint Bolick's piece "From Dependency to Dignity" in your November issue was superb. His argument that the 1873 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Slaughter-House cases has been as harmful to economic rights as Plessy v. Ferguson to civil rights is entirely persuasive. However, because a non–civil-rights objective—economic parity—is often mistaken today for a civil-rights objective, recovering the economic liberties denied by Slaughter-House will be much more difficult than desegregating public schools.

How has this mistake come about? Because we have been taught to think of ourselves not as individual Americans with civil rights but, rather, as members of one or another racial, religious, ethnic, or gender group with a sort of generalized claim to socioeconomic parity with other groups. Therefore, to secure the economic rights of all Americans will require the intellectual courage to challenge the received wisdom of the social sciences in addition to tackling entrenched economic interests.

Phil Lyons
Alexandria, VA

An Epidemic of Hype

James Taranto's Viewpoint ("All the News It's a Hit to Print," Dec.) was 100 percent on target. His point would be humorous if it weren't so dangerous. Not only are we in ever more danger of people demanding government "protection" from these types of problems, but people are also reacting irrationally to isolated incidents. Hysteria and paranoia rule.

My real reason for writing, however, is to expand on the "AIDS epidemic" idea. In addition to what Taranto says, the hypocrisy of the press should be noted. On the one hand, AIDS is this awful disease that we know very little about, which has the potential to wipe out humanity as we know it (so the government has to spend more money for research). On the other hand, we have nothing to fear in the workplace, at blood donation centers, and in the schools.

Jeffrey H. Pahren
Cherry Hill, NJ