Getting U.S businesses back on track
Some years ago Roger Smith, chairman of the board of General Motors, said, "small cars, small profit; big cars, big profit." That was the beginning of the end of the U.S. auto industry. That short-term thinking by overpaid executives opened the door to first the Volkswagen, then Japanese autos.
The American auto industry never seriously challenged the foreign imports because it meant cutting into their profit margin. The same principle applies to the steel industry. The first basic oxygen furnace was in use in Germany and Japan eight years before one was built in the United States. This gives an idea of how far behind the times we were and still are.
Japan has little or no raw materials, and imports most of them. But it still undersells us in foreign markets. Could it be that the Japanese are more interested in keeping their economy solvent and having full employment? President Bush keeps singing an optimistic tune as more and more people are laid off due to the neglect of past and present administrations, which concentrated our resources into building the most powerful and sophisticated weapons the world has ever known in the name of self-defense. Now that the Evil Empire is no more, the technical knowledge that brought this about should be directed to reclaim the lead we once held in exporting American-made products throughout the world.
While big business continues to lose ground and corporate raiders devour fledging companies, their first order of business is to lay off employees and cut costs. This adds to our unemployment rolls. Now these mighty moguls of the business world, along with President Bush, have the nerve to ask for cuts in the capital gains tax so they can reward themselves for a job well done. Isn't capitalism wonderful?
True cost of beef
It was gratifying to read of Great Britain's gift of food to the people of the former Soviet Union. But their decision to send beef is a regrettable one, particularly with regard to the environmental damage caused by beef cattle.
Sixteen pounds of feed grain are required to produce one pound of edible cow flesh. So, in comparison with the resources used to produce plant foods, beef uses 16 times the amount of land, water, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides and fuel for farm machinery. Beef cattle farming also causes massive topsoil erosion and water pollution.
As forests are cleared to provide fresh range lands, wildlife habitats are lost. And with the loss of the trees, we lose the source of much of the earth's oxygen production. Our irreplaceable tropical rain forests are currently being destroyed at the rate of a football field per second.
There are simply not enough resources on earth to feed the world in the manner to which we have become accustomed. A plant-based diet offers the only hope of ending world hunger. And it offers, perhaps, our brightest hope for preserving and restoring environmental health to our planet.
10 Good, evil and AIDS
In Randy Shilts' article "Good AIDS and bad AIDS" (Dec. 20) he stated that Kimberly Bergalis said it was unfair that she had to suffer from AIDS even though she "didn't do anything wrong."
He then states that it is "tragic that the United States lacks adequate 'prevention' programs in these areas," referring to the spread of AIDS.
I agree that we lack an adequate prevention program, but in my opinion, if you really want to prevent AIDS from spreading, there are steps we could take. Start by quarantining all who have tested positive with the AIDS virus. Secondly, test every person in the U.S. and do not allow immigrants who test positive to enter the country. Thirdly, make it clear to children that abstinence until marriage is the only option, not just to prevent AIDS but because the Bible makes it clear that promiscuity is wrong.
Unless we quit calling evil good and good, evil, there is no "prevention program" that will work.
I hope that one day soon the media, instead of feasting on Quayle, will be forced to eat crow. No one wants Vice President Dan Quayle to have the opportunity to show his mettle. I'm sure he would be able to fulfill his duties honorably.
Sharon Miller's article "The Post Office's stagnation program" (Other Voices, Jan. 3) does a disservice to every dedicated letter carrier in the city. When a carrier is on the street one hour after sundown in a strange neighborhood trying to read addresses on letters and magazines while walking down the sidewalk or up steps and also looking for a house number (which may or may not be there) it is no wonder you or your neighbors receive misdeliveries.
As for the frequency of misdeliveries, I challenge Ms. Miller to keep a record of the number of pieces of mail you received in a month.
Ms. Miller also mentions a check which was misdelivered and then retrieved by her regular carrier. This is the career employee by whom you should judge the U.S. Postal Service, rather than casual employees who receive no benefits, little if any training and half the pay for only 89 days of employment.
Stephen W. Smith
How to haiku
In Other Voices Dec. 31 there was a block of poetry at the bottom of the page. One part was entitled "Haiku Sequence for the Turning of the Year," and was written by Kathleen O'Toole.
A Haiku is a three-line poem, divided into 17 syllables. The first line has 5, the second has 7, and the third has 5. Only one of her verses qualified. So how come this is "Haiku"?
Roger Simon sparked my interest in this line of poetry, and I received honorable mention this year. He is right according to my English books.
Thanks for letting me blow off steam.