Use Soviet OilEditor: During the Cold War, the simplistic...


November 30, 1990

Use Soviet Oil

Editor: During the Cold War, the simplistic answer given by the man-in-the-street to the perceived threat of communism was, ''Give them all some money, make them rich capitalists and the problem will go away.''

Today, after the collapse of communism, a treasury of oil lies under Soviet soil without the technical knowledge, infrastructure, capital underpinning and will to extract it. Across the Mediterranean, the lives of young Americans are held hostage to the Iraqi dictator who threatens our usual oil supply.

Is fighting a war and destroying our young people more thinkable, more do-able than solving the technical, political and logistical problems of extracting Soviet oil? Remember, the Soviets need hard currency to build their economy and to pacify the rising expectations of their now restless citizens.

While we wait out the embargo on Iraq for several months, perhaps we could tempt some American entrepreneurial group to gamble on a future profit and help both our economies. We could bypass OPEC, which would help defuse some Middle Eastern tensions as we turn to the northern source of oil.

Is this too simple a solution? Remember there is nothing simple about war.

June Laffan.


Tax Disparities

Editor: After reviewing your front-page article on tax disparities between the city and the suburbs, I think you missed the forest for the trees.

I can see the same disparities within the same jurisdiction, i.e. what some taxpayer/users pay in property taxes exceeds the total yearly rent paid by others. This totally negates the age-old argument by renters and landlords that a portion of the rent pays their fair share of local government expense.

Obviously, the value of one's property has absolutely no effect on the tax-funded services received. A better barometer of personal cost to local government is the number of children one has in the local school system as 40-60 percent of the budgets go toward education.

A flat governmental charge with a head adjustment is the only truly fair method of financing governmental services, since one's income level also has no bearing on what one receives for tax payment.

Why does the adage, ''You get what you pay for,'' apply to everything you buy, except for tax-supported services?

R. Hausmann.


Black Liberation

Editor: Can it be that Haki R. Madhubiti's scathing critique of America and his oracles of black autonomy are more palatable to me, a white man, than to Garland L. Thompson?

In the end, Mr. Thompson's Nov. 15 Opinion * Commentary column, "A Clown In Purple," co-opts Mr. Madhubiti's thought to serve that mentality beloved of this city's racists, both black and white, that would have black men continue to hang out on street corners, whining about their lack of power until whites should hand it over to them. That is not Mr. Madhubuti's thought; that is not a reality to enable liberation.

It is, however, a very convincing posture for those who have glimpsed the fact that being "in power" does not lead directly to a bed of roses, and who consequently both covet and fear it -- or who will exploit that anxiety in others in order to take advantage of them. This dynamic is not confined to blacks; it is universal.

As Mr. Madhubiti indicates, the power for black liberation is now, as it always had been, in black hands. Mr. Thompson cries out one more time for "the nation (to) get a handle on its prejudices." Mr. Madhubiti implicitly answers, and I fully agree, that that is utterly immaterial. Black autonomy is none of white folks' business. Who decides whether or not black folk choose self-determination? There simply are no white folk in this picture.

Timothy H. Wright.



Editor: Can African-Americans make their own ethical judgments and declare their own values? The failure of the voters of Washington to elect Mayor Marion S. Barry to an at-large city council seat answers this question in the affirmative.

Recent events surrounding the trial of the District of Columbia's mayor have been troubling for the African-American community. It was embarrassing to hear allegations that the city's chief magistrate was really involved in the cocaine habit despite repeated denials on his part. The floodgates opened. There on TV for all the world to see was His Honor indulging in a snort with a woman who was not his wife.

Events moved swiftly, and the mayor was in the courtroom of Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson. A jury heard the evidence and was unable to reach a verdict on 12 of the 14 charges. He was found guilty of a misdemeanor of possessing cocaine in 1989. He was acquitted of a second charge of drug possession.

When the sentencing came, Judge Jackson sentenced Mayor Barry to six months in federal prison and imposed a $50,000 fine. Judge Jackson, who later amplified his thinking at a Harvard University seminar, based his sentence on the belief that, despite the jury deliberations, Mayor Barry was guilty of more than the one single count on which the jury convicted him.

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