Federal Reserve must stop inflation before it...

Letters to the Editor

April 30, 1999

Federal Reserve must stop inflation before it starts

Federal Reserve Bank Gov. Laurence Meyer's suggestion that the Fed was seeing signs of inflation and might take corrective action, came as a surprise to some. Why, they ask, as The Sun did in its April 20 editorial "No rate hike needed now," if the economy is doing so well, should we raise interest rates?

The answer is that, since monetary policy changes take anywhere from nine to 15 months to be felt throughout the economy, policy-makers must be forward-looking. Last year's series of three interest rate cuts is just now being felt. Experience has shown that waiting too long to fight inflation is bad policy.

If unemployment is at its lowest level in decades, factories are producing at full capacity, and consumer confidence is high, why haven't we seen more inflation during this nine-year expansion? One possible explanation is that increases in productivity have offset inflationary pressures. Another is that Fed policy-makers have learned that a pre-emptive policy is a much better way to control inflation than a wait-and-see approach.

While monetary policy is not an exact science, Fed policy-makers debate and carefully consider the consequences of their actions before changing interest rates.

The Federal Reserve strives to foster economic expansion through price stability, not vice versa. While opinions differ, this bank feels that low inflation is one of the best ways to promote economic growth.

Rest assured that the Federal Reserve does not make changes in monetary policy on a whim. Our credibility and determination to maintain price stability have contributed to inflation being dormant.

William J. Tignanelli

Baltimore

The writer is senior vice president in charge of the Baltimore branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

The Colorado shooting and the Capitol shooting

As I pondered the Colorado school shooting, I was reminded of a similar tragedy that shocked the nation last summer: not of students killing other students, but of a mentally ill adult killing two U.S. Capitol guards.

How different public response was to the two shootings. In Colorado, no one suggested that to prevent further school violence we treat all school-children as potentially dangerous criminals. No one suggested that they be under constant supervision and threatened with incarceration if they acted "different."

There was general agreement that it would be damaging to our young people if schools became institutions of constant surveillance, with routine body searches and armed guards at every entrance.

But when a mentally ill adult was the culprit, rather than a "weird" teenager, no distinction was made between the few mentally ill people who commit such acts and the many who live peacefully in the community, posing no threat to others.

How ironic that the parents, teachers and mental health professionals responded in a positive way to the tragedy in Littleton, Colo., with demands for more counseling and mental health screening while only negative, coercive approaches were recommended following the Capitol shooting.

Mentally ill adults are confronted with legislation that criminalizes their illness and forcibly commits them to jails and mental institutions. Surely such a punitive approach is just as damaging to the adult as it is to the teenager.

Jean H. Walker

Finksburg

The writer ia a community mental health provider.

Banning guns wouldn't stop violence in schools

The bodies hadn't even been removed from the school in Littleton, Colo., before anti-gun activists began their war dance. But the events in Littleton reinforce the the argument that even if guns were banned, those who are intent on harming others will surely find a means.

In addition to the guns they carried, the Colorado killers had hidden more than 30 homemade bombs of various types around that school.

The rampage in Littleton underscores the need for laws allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons. I'm sure there were school administrators, teachers and students who would have given anything to have had the means to defend themselves and others during the killing spree.

Wayne Croft

Parkton

It's media images, not guns that foster violence

Jack Germond and Jules Witcover's April 23 anti-gun column ("Clinton should use bully pulpit to fight gun lobby") provides another example of The Sun's narrow and biased thinking.

Why not blame the real culprit behind the rash of violence we have seen in our schools -- the media?

Movies and television are rife with gratuitous depictions of mindless violence day after day. This steady diet of violence sets the stage for the easily led to follow their leaders -- the actors who claim to abhor firearms, yet use them as major props in their performances.

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