Congratulations on the first two articles by Karl Zinsmeister (Oct. and Nov.) dealing with the unbelievable mess those of us in farming find ourselves in. I am looking forward to the next articles in the hope that they will throw some light on solutions which could permit farmers some voice in the future direction of their chosen profession. As a full-time commercial farmer for nearly one-third of a century I hold out very little hope that our freedom from big brother can come from within. With few exceptions our leaders are followers of the loudest and most populist crowds. They observe which way the herd is running, then run like hell to get in front.
The most we could hope for from your publishing of Mr. Zinsmeister's articles would be the salvation of U.S. farmers from our farm leaders and political leaders; the least would be a more intelligent discussion of the problem.
An INSensitive Agency
Thanks for "The Door Slams Shut" (Nov.). How do Americans stop a creeping, poisonous vine that if not cut back will destroy our crop of free plants? The Immigration and Naturalization Service is such a vine. It will get bolder as time goes on if we, as U.S. citizens, don't work to cut it out at its roots.
Even before the INS had their own forms in place, this belligerent agency was requiring U.S. companies to prove permanent or temporary citizenship of all employees. In companies with high turnover or multiple locations with a centralized payroll/personnel department, this can be a horrendous job.
I know of a case where a restaurant was short staffed and the chef offered a perfect stranger shift work in the kitchen. The stranger was, of course, a U.S. citizen, but somehow the INS form was forgotten in the dinner rush that evening. Multiply this incident by hundreds and you will understand why people are leaving payroll/personnel departments in droves.
The INS has already done audits to check up on whether or not companies are following their proof-of-citizenship form to the letter. One company I know of was fined thousands of dollars not because they were found to harbor illegal aliens, but because the correct box was not Xed or some other minutia was not inked in correctly.
I personally hate what the INS stands for. I will not be surprised for the day when this agency will be responsible for the demise of many young, fun, dynamic companies. And who knows how long it will be before Americans will have to show papers to get out of the country or when crossing a state line?
Jo Friedlund Murphy
San Francisco, CA
I think Doug Bandow shot himself in the foot by quoting Sen. Alan Simpson (R–Wyo.). Seems the old cowboy was onto something when he said, "We must distinguish between the right to leave the Soviet Union and the right to enter the United States." To observe that persons have a right to live in a nation at least as free as the United States does not translate into a right to live in the United States. If everyone has a right to live in the United States, the United States effectively has no borders and has a responsibility to right every wrong in the world.
Bandow writes that "people should be allowed in the United States if their basic rights are being violated." Working under that definition I don't see how the United States could possibly refuse another Mariel boatlift. In fact, every criminal and psychopath in the Third World seems to qualify for instant citizenship. A free people surely have some right to sort out the dangerous from those who would join their society.
With that caveat, Bandow is absolutely right that the INS is doing a horrible job of "guarding" our borders. There is no reason for thousands of talented, industrious would-be immigrants to be denied entry to a nation which could sorely use their skills.
Jeff A. Taylor
Did Martin Morse Wooster ("Honor Roll," Oct.) read the same March 1989 issue of The Washington Monthly that we published? I'm not sure. He charges that we're a "very authoritarian" magazine that's "content to rest on its laurels." That's an odd complaint to make about a publication that invites its present and former writers to criticize it, and, in an issue with a cover headline, "What's wrong with this magazine," devotes 26 pages to their comments. Is this evidence of authoritarianism or of resting on our laurels?
Another example of the way Wooster misrepresents the contents of the March issue is his reference to "Peters's notion that profits are somehow distasteful." But I specifically say on page 54 of that issue that I don't object to profits, explaining: "What I do object to is the pressure capitalism exerts to maximize profits," which "encourages corporations to take chances with worker safety, to pollute the air, to attempt to gain monopoly control."
There is an easy way REASON's readers can decide for themselves about Wooster's accuracy. In describing the response I wrote to the Monthly alumni in the March issue, he says, "Peters rebuts his critics with bluster and misdirection." My reply is only three pages long and takes only five minutes to read. If you'll drop me a line at The Washington Monthly, 1611 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20009, I'll send you a copy of the article free. In fact, as long as the supply lasts, we'll send you the whole issue.
Mr. Peters is editor of The Washington Monthly. —Eds.
Martin Morse Wooster commends John Judis for his analysis of Eastern European developments in the June 21 issue of In These Times ("Slow March Toward Freedom," Dec.). "Judis notes the superficiality of seeing the revolution in Eastern Europe as a triumph of capitalism," Wooster writes approvingly. "What the Poles and Hungarians want, Judis believes, is not to be Hong Kong but to be like Sweden or Austria."
In the same piece, Wooster jeers at an article in the July issue of The Progressive by Robin Blackburn, the editor of London's New Left Review, whom Wooster dismisses as "magnificently naive about the Soviet Union." I quote from Blackburn's article: "Soviet citizens don't want to spend so much of their time standing in line, and they want to see a greater diversity of goods in the stores. This doesn't mean they want capitalism, though the social democracy of Sweden and Austria does exert a definite attraction."
Someone is confused here. I don't think it's Judis or Blackburn or I.
Mr. Knoll is editor of The Progressive. —Eds.
Without meaning to belittle the memory or accomplishments of George Koopman, I must point out several misconceptions in Jacob Sullum's coverage of the AMROC Koopman Express (Trends, Nov.).
Firstly, it is untrue that the Koopman Express is "the first launcher designed for commercial purposes"; this title clearly belongs to the European Ariane booster, which, although designed largely in the public sphere, was and is used to launch commercial payloads.
Nor is it clear that AMROC can claim title to "the first commercially developed vehicle ever launched into space." This may arguably go to the now-defunct OTRAG organization, which had conducted successful test shots in the 1970s. If successful payload delivery is a criterion, AMROC may still be beaten by Orbital Sciences Corp. and their Pegasus air-launched booster; the AMROC attempt on Oct. 5 ended in failure on the pad.
Secondly, it is untrue that "unlike rockets that run exclusively on solid or liquid fuel, the AMROC launcher can be stopped and started." Every liquid-fueled booster has this characteristic to an equal or greater degree than AMROC's hybrid design. Virtually every stop-and-restart rocket propulsion system relies on liquid propellants.
Thirdly, it is untrue that the Koopman Express's "exhaust…is safer than emissions from most other rockets." Every liquid-fueled launcher produces the same, nontoxic emissions of water, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and sometimes nitrogen (though it is odd to see carbon monoxide considered "nontoxic").
It is understandable why Sullum might want to trumpet the prospects of AMROC. They are not part of the existing aerospace industry, which has developed launch vehicles under government sponsorship. Unfortunately, this also means AMROC has no comparable experience and will have to learn from mistakes—on their customers' and investors' money.
Michael J. Dunn
Mr. Sullum replies: I called the Koopman Express "the first launcher designed for commercial purposes" in the context of discussing private launch efforts—i.e., excluding government-sponsored programs such as Ariane. AMROC stands by its claim that the Koopman Express would have been the first commercially developed vehicle launched into space had last fall's attempt been successful (which is all that our story indicated). According to my research, OTRAG never achieved a successful launch.
Mr. Dunn is correct in pointing out that all liquid-fueled rockets, unlike solid-fueled rockets, can be stopped and started. I erroneously stated that the hybrid motor was unique in this respect.
Finally, AMROC President James C. Bennett said of the company's booster, "This is as benign as any of the rockets in use today and more benign than almost all." AMROC engineer Paul Estey assures me this is the case, since the rocket's exhaust does not include the hydrochloric acid, aluminum particles, and aluminum compounds commonly found in the exhaust of solid-fueled boosters, which NASA and the Pentagon use by themselves and in conjunction with liquid-fueled rockets.
The Envelope, Please
In his review of What Might Have Been? ("If Only…", Oct.), Charles Oliver states that John Lennon "never even got a Grammy." Wrong! Although Lennon never won a solo Grammy, he was a co-winner three times: 1966 Song of the Year, for "Michelle" (with Paul McCartney); 1970 Best Original Score for a Motion Picture for Let It Be (with McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr); and 1980 Album of the Year for Double Fantasy (with Yoko Ono). The Beatles, as a group, also won four other Grammys: 1964 for Best New Artist and Best Vocal Group, and 1967 for Album of the Year and Best Contemporary Album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. In fact, Lennon was co-winner of an Oscar for Best Musical Score (Let It Be). While Lennon never won a Nobel Prize, please give credit where credit is due.
Victor S. Wagher
Bowling Green, OH
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Letters".