Let's Play God!
After enjoying Veronique de Rugy's essay, "Government Failure Is Baked In" (November), I turned the page to read Ronald Bailey describe how genetic modifications of wild populations may be in our future ("Let's Play God!"). He briefly touches on both pros and cons, but then shocks readers with this lopsided conclusion: "The usual Luddites will strive mightily to scare policy makers into banning gene drives. But with proper safeguards, the benefits clearly outweigh the possible downsides." Really?
Name-calling as "Luddites" those who fear unintended consequences of tampering with the DNA of wild populations reveals a disrespect for reasonable scientific skepticism and an unnerving lack of savvy about government's track record for screwing things up in epic proportion.
I'd encourage the author to thumb back just one page. There he'll find a parade of public failures including corrupt government contractors, Affordable Care Act websites, Veterans Affairs cover-ups, and more.
The New Face of Television
Contra Peter Suderman ("The New Face of Television," November), modern TV didn't really begin in the 1980s or 1990s. It began way back in '77, when PBS aired the BBC series I, Claudius, complete with murders, political intrigue, insanity, torture, and an orgy. It was also PBS that aired the British program House of Cards, on which the new Netflix series was based. Had PBS, which libertarians love to disparage, not dared to show America what TV can be, the cable operators probably would have been a lot less willing to strike out as they did.
And let's not forget that PBS aired Milton Friedman's Free to Choose even as mainstream TV content always had a leftist bent. Let's give credit where it's due, even if that credit must go to an organization that doesn't fit our own ideas of how to finance entertainment.
Kenneth H. Fleischer
Los Angeles, CA
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